SUNDAY CENTS: ‘Twilight’ning strikes again!

Posted by · 4:26 pm · November 22nd, 2009

The Twilight Saga: New Moon*All historical figures cited are adjusted to today’s dollars.

Well, that happened.

“The Twilight Saga: New Moon” proved the franchise was no one-hit wonder by opening with $140.7 million over the weekend, breaking numerous records in the process. The $72.7 million pulled in on Friday is a new single day record, leaving “The Dark Knight” in the dust.

The November opening weekend record of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is disintegrated. The two days Chris Weitz’s film took to reach $100 million equals the fastest on record. The weekend figure is the fifth-biggest debut of all time and the per-theater average is the fourth-best for a film on over 4,000 screens.

All that is to say that the “Twilight” franchise has now aligned itself with the biggest and brightest of all box office stars. Any conversation that includes Batman, Spider-Man and Jack Sparrow must now include Bella and Edward.

While I’m sure the movie is terrible, I for one think this is great for two reasons. First off, any time a film can reach massive heights without appealing primarily to males aged 18-35, it’s a victory for everybody. We all want diversity in the marketplace and success like this causes studio executives to shake up the way they think about audiences.

But let’s also get something else straight here: You simply cannot make this amount of money by only appealing to one demographic. So pre-teen females may drive the box office but boys are going too. Men are going.

The second reason I’m apt to stick up for this film is because I find it a tad hypocritical that the same viewers who line up excitedly for films like “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” like to come on here and express their disgust at “New Moon.” I can’t see a single difference between the two and it seems to me that you either support big, dumb Hollywood entertainment or you don’t.

Far more troubling to me is the massive success of Sandra Bullock’s “The Blind Side.” This is the epitome of lazy, manipulative, racist Hollywood bile and it walked away with $34.5 million this weekend. This is a positively blockbuster figure and with word of mouth bound to be positive, it may get close to $150 million before all is said and done.

You have to go all the way back to “Rocky IV” in 1985 to find an inspirational sports drama that debuted better and that’s including hits like “Remember the Titans” and “Seabiscuit.” Somehow, before 2009, Sandra Bullock had never opened a film over $26 million and she’s now done it twice in five months. Somebody give that woman’s agent a raise (and let’s just pretend “All About Steve” never happened).

“Planet 51” simply couldn’t compete with the other two new titles and had to settle for fourth place and $12.6 million. For computer animation, that’s on the low end of the spectrum and the film should finish around $50 million. I swear to God I wrote the first five pages of a script with this exact plotline after seeing “Independence Day” at age 13. Only mine was a super serious drama and page five is where I realized that aliens wouldn’t speak English and I couldn’t figure out how to proceed. If only I still had the floppy disk I saved it on, I could cook up a lawsuit.

“2012” dropped 59%, as did most holdovers, which all wilted under the one-two punch of the weekend’s top openers.  Regardless, the top 12 films at the box office have only combined to gross more on the weekend “The Dark Knight” opened. Batman accounted for 63% of that record tally, while “Twilight” hogs up only 57% of the gross this week, so movie-going in general is the winner here.

In limited release, “Broken Embraces” earned a typically robust $54,000 per screen for Pedro Almodovar. If it can reach the $10 million heights of “Volver” and “All About My Mother,” then we can maybe start talking about Penelepe Cruz being in the race for Best Actress.

I forked over my $7.50 to “The Maid” and “Antichrist” this week. Sebastian Silva’s domestic drama is almost assured a place on my top 10 of the year as it hit all the right chords for me, while the Lars Von Trier is a beautiful, gargantuan mess of a movie. Plenty of problems, but garish acts of filmmaking like this are why I go to the movies.

Michael Tully at Hammer to Nail sums it up best for me by saying the film “provides us with what we so desperately need in cinema, a full-throttle act of pure creative expression from a freakishly gifted mind.”

What did you guys see this weekend? Any cinephiles out there man enough to admit seeing and loving “New Moon?” Here are the weekend’s top domestic grossers, courtesy of Exhibitor Relations:

Weekend of Friday, November 20, 2009

→ 32 Comments Tags: , , , , , | Filed in: Box Office · Sunday Cents

32 responses so far

  • 1 11-22-2009 at 4:28 pm

    mark said...


  • 2 11-22-2009 at 4:32 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...


  • 3 11-22-2009 at 4:42 pm

    Hardy said...

    No mention of Precious’ stellar expansion? The 17,500 PTA is amazing.

  • 4 11-22-2009 at 4:50 pm

    Robert said...

    My guess is that yes, Bullock’s reps will start some FYC ads for Best Actress, and that other than a potential Globe nomination, she won’t figure much in the awards race, including at the Oscars.

  • 5 11-22-2009 at 4:56 pm

    Bob McBob said...

    why did you stop predicting the grosses for the following weekend?

  • 6 11-22-2009 at 5:03 pm

    James D. said...

    Like I said in the Friday Forecast, the audience that I saw going to see New Moon (not me, though!) was a lot more than teenage girls. I went at noon on Friday, when all the kids were at school, and I saw older women and even some younger men going. I had not seen the theater in the middle of the day so crowded in some time.

  • 7 11-22-2009 at 5:04 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Bob: We’ve split the column. Weekend previews are on Fridays.

  • 8 11-22-2009 at 5:12 pm

    Chris said...

    Went to see “The White Ribbon”. As creative as it is, I think it is hugely flawed and too simplistic in its approach. I’m afraid Haneke gave too much away in it which he’d rather have concealed like he did in “Caché”, which still haunts my mind three years after seeing it, while I think there’s nothing to add to my thoughts about “The White Ribbon”.

  • 9 11-22-2009 at 5:18 pm

    rosengje said...

    Thanks for your defense of the New Moon figures, Chad. I have been struggling with this issue for a few weeks. While I hate everything that the Twilight franchise stands for, particularly because I am a member of the target demo, I do think girls are entitled to the same type of dumb franchise that boys have become so accustomed to. I wish that my colleagues would pursue more exciting options and think that people would be surprised about how much more they can identify with the heroines of “An Education” or even “Precious.” I have a lot of issues with the content of the Twilight books, but the misogynistic tones of so many complaints against them has put me in the unfortunate position of having to defend their value, such as it is.

  • 10 11-22-2009 at 5:24 pm

    rosengje said...

    Also: this weekend I saw a restored print of “Rashomon” at the Ritz in Philly. Philly has a surprisingly active film community and it was a great experience. I also saw a completely sold out showing of “Precious” at the larger multiplex in the area on Thursday night. It was probably the first time having a more active audience felt appropriate.

  • 11 11-22-2009 at 5:35 pm

    SHAAAARK said...

    Twilight is ultra-misogynist, though. It’s indefensible in its attitudes towards women and relationships. That it’s so successful shows a total failure in modern parenting. Maybe we need to reinstate corporal punishment?

  • 12 11-22-2009 at 6:01 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    I’m inclined to agree with SHAAAARK. How could any self-respecting woman like a movie that celebrates a teenage girl becoming completely dependent and subservient to a man?

  • 13 11-22-2009 at 7:13 pm

    Jen said...


  • 14 11-22-2009 at 7:17 pm

    Morgan said...

    Exactly. If it were just bad female-driven entertainment, I’d be fine with it — at least, as you say, this will wake them up to the fact that girls actually go to movies — but it’s not. It’s relentlessly sexist and demeaning and I find it really worrying that a whole generation of young girls are being raised on this absolute garbage.

  • 15 11-22-2009 at 7:19 pm

    PerishtheSun said...

    I most definitely agree with SHAAAARK. Of course women (and young girls) deserve entertainment that has them in mind but to think that all women want is this kind of ultra-misogynistic, badly written movie is not going to do us any good.

  • 16 11-22-2009 at 7:26 pm

    Patryk said...

    Rosengje: I also went to see “Precious” this weekend, but I can’t see what you mean by “a more active audience…” I was surrounded by a half filled auditorium with at least 3 screaming infants and cell phone ring tones galore and way too many audience members speaking directly (loudly) to the screen. All as if they were in their own living room. I now know why I usually choose midweek matinees to enjoy film.

  • 17 11-22-2009 at 8:32 pm

    Joel said...

    I saw “New Moon,” actually, and really enjoyed it. But then I like the books, so…

  • 18 11-22-2009 at 8:34 pm

    Joel said...

    I’m hoping to see “An Education” tomorrow, however, after my only day of classes this week.

    Oh but I did catch “The Brothers Bloom” on DVD and pretty much loved it. Not perfect, but it’s a hell of an entertaining movie.

  • 19 11-22-2009 at 8:36 pm

    Me. said...

    However watched that crap should consider suicide. This is the saddest thing I’ve read in a long while.

  • 20 11-22-2009 at 8:45 pm

    James D. said...

    Does anyone know what is going on with The Road? It seems like all the local theaters have pulled it from their Wednesday lineup.

  • 21 11-22-2009 at 9:19 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    It’s opening in 100 screens on Wednesday James.

  • 22 11-22-2009 at 9:27 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ***Rosengje: I also went to see “Precious” this weekend, but I can’t see what you mean by “a more active audience…***

    I think I know what Rosengje means, because I had a packed house too and the audience was as responsive as I’ve ever seen. Laughs at the appropriate moments, audible winces, cheers, sighs of disbelief… I couldn’t have imagined it any other way. They were very into it.

  • 23 11-22-2009 at 9:27 pm

    Finwë said...

    To steal from someone else:

    Girlfriend wants to go to New Moon, boyfriend has no choice.

    Boyfriend wants to go to Batman, girlfriend doesn’t go because she doesn’t want to.

    2 tickets for New Moon, 1 for Batman, New Moon makes more money. Pretty simple.
    How it effects the marketplace, I don’t know. In Hollywood’s brain, it means more romantic comedies, Miley Cyrus, and mashups of the two (how terrible does the Last Song look?). It does not mean we get masterpieces geared at women and young girls, it means we just get more Twilighty crap.

  • 24 11-22-2009 at 10:28 pm

    McGuff said...

    I got a chuckle at the theatre this weekend when the couple behind us in line, maybe 35, lambasted anyone who would see a stupid movie called “men who stare at goats” only to see the pair buy “New Moon” tickets. That incident, combined with half the females I know taking one of the weekend nights off to see it made me guess this number was coming.

    I saw “An Education” instead. I thought it was a really fantastic 3.5 star movie, with the most likable film character of the year. Carey Mulligan is fabulous, but then again, I can’t say anything bad about any acting performance in the film. I thought Nick Hornby rushed through the ending a little bit, falling into the adapted screenplay trap of resolving the story truthfully despite clearly not loving the direction. I could see his passiveness, where the first 90 minutes I just saw brilliance.

  • 25 11-22-2009 at 10:42 pm

    Morgan said...

    I guess I have the biggest problem with “The Blind Side” being called racist bile. Especially when black people aren’t finding it offensive. I saw it, I’m black and had no problem with it.

  • 26 11-23-2009 at 1:33 am

    mike said...

    c/s morgan. The Blind Side, is actually a true story, unlike Precious.

  • 27 11-23-2009 at 1:34 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    I’m still in shock. This was a totally ruined weekend and this sealed the deal.

  • 28 11-23-2009 at 3:28 am

    Glenn said...

    Kris, I actually LOLed at that up the top. Thanks.

  • 29 11-23-2009 at 5:57 am

    A.J said...

    Well now you have a double Golden-Globe nominee in Sandra Bullock. Will that translate to an oscar nomination?

  • 30 11-23-2009 at 7:27 am

    Erik said...

    I still don’t know what i find more disturbing. The fact that the movie is about a relationship between a 17-year old girl and a 108-year old man, or the fact that a 108-year old man is still in high school. Either way I find te movie deeply, deeply disturbing (oh, and i’m not too crazy about the fact that it glamourizes two “young” people with major depression who spend a whole movie attempting suicide all the time, but i’m sure no one will look to Bella and Edward as role models, right?)

    And I thought the Dark Knight was dark…

  • 31 11-23-2009 at 8:46 am

    Hero said...

    I’ll admit it–saw New Moon and liked. So did my husband, who wasn’t even close to being the oldest man in the theater.

  • 32 11-23-2009 at 3:13 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Having useless females that rely on the male characters doesn’t make New Moon worse than other blockbusters. It makes it the same.