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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spotlight: Twilight (2008)

When relatively unknown Summit Entertainment targeted the high profile weekend-before-Thanksgiving to release their modestly budgeted teen vampire romance, many people paid little attention, assuming Disney's computer-animated pic Bolt would rule the weekend.

Based on Stephanie Meyer's popular quadrilogy of books, people underestimated the cult following the books commanded, as Summit's $37 million investment stunned the industry raking in a whopping $70.6 million in its debut weekend, accounting for nearly half of all ticket sales in the marketplace. The film clobbered both the sophomore outing of Quantum of Solace as well as Disney's big-budget family comedy debut Bolt.

The $70.6 million debut was the fourth largest in November history, behind only the three Harry Potter films which opened in November: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire's $102.7m, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's $90.2m, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets's $88.3m. With audiences largely consisting of teen girls, some of whom watched the film multiple times over its opening weekend, the studio quickly green-lit the production of two sequels.

Starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, the vampire pic gained bad press when director Catherine Hardwicke was suddenly dismissed from directing the studio's planned two sequels. Rumors swirled of difficulties the studio had working with Harwicke, and Summit quickly named Chris Weitz (Golden Compass, About a Boy) as the new helm.

Twilight's phenomenal domestic run ended with $186 million in ticket sales, with another $139.7 million added overseas, making it the highest grossing vampire pic in history and giving the next two films astronomically high expectations. The studio has announced that the next two films are titled New Moon and Eclipse, just like their respective books. New Moon has a tentative release date of November 2009, with rumors that Dakota Fanning could potentially bare fangs in the sequel.

Budget: $37m
Opening weekend: $70.6m
Domestic Gross: $185.99m
International Gross: $139.68m
Worldwide Gross: $325.66m

source(s): eonline.com, einsiders.com

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