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©Summit Entertainment
© Summit Entertainment
'Twilight' finale wins record holiday box office weekend

By Todd Cunningham

The holiday movie season is off to a record-breaking start after blockbusters "Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2" and "Skyfall" powered the biggest Thanksgiving weekend ever at the box office.

Search: Animal rights group protest real wolves at 'Breaking Dawn' premiere

With Oscar front-runner "Lincoln" continuing to over-perform in terms of expectations and awards hopeful "Life of Pi" off to a strong start, the overall box office hit $288 million and easily eclipsed the previous standard of $268 million set in 2009.

The "Twilight" vamps and vampires are making it a long and lucrative goodbye. Summit Entertainment's franchise finale took in another $65 million over the five days and stayed at No. 1 in its second week. Its overall domestic gross is $226 million. "Breaking Dawn 2" will take in $43 million between Friday and Sunday, the best ever second-weekend for a "Twilight: film.

It added another $97.4 million from 73 territories and has taken in $350.8 million overseas, giving it a worldwide total of $577 million in two weeks. Summit parent Lionsgate's international unit went over the $1 billion for the first time  and put the studio at over $2 billion worldwide, another first.

Also on TheWrap: 'Lincoln' Women: How Sally Field and Gloria Reuben Stole Daniel Day-Lewis' Show

The success of "Breaking Dawn 2" makes Lionsgate's $412 million acquisition of Summit in January look pretty good right now.

"It sure does," Lionsgate's president of domestic distribution Richie Fay told TheWrap Sunday, "It's not just reflected in the flow of product and stock price, but in Lionsgate's position in the industry. We've stepped up into the majors, Summit has been a big part of that, and we're very proud."

Fay said he thought the unusually large number of strong movies drove the holiday record.

"I think a lot of people may have gone to the cineplex with one film in mind, and if they couldn't get in to see that one, they were just fine with seeing another one."

Also: What did the critics say?

"Skyfall," the 23rd film in the James Bond franchise added $51 million over the long weekend and became the first 007 movie to cross $200 million in the U.S. Its domestic total is now $221 million. The thriller stars Daniel Craig and is the biggest Bond movie ever at the box office. It added another $41 million overseas this weekend and has now taken in more than $790 million worldwide.

"Rise of the Guardians," the 3D family film from DreamWorks Animation, debuted with $32.6 million over the five days. Paramount had hoped for more from "Rise of the Guardians," which was at 3,653 locations, 2,900 of which were 3D or Imax screens. But its holiday themes and "A" CinemaScore offer hope it will play well through the holidays. This is the last movie Paramount will distribute for DreamWorks Animation, which has signed a new five-year deal with Fox.

Another of the week's wide openers, Ang Lee's lyrical epic "Life of Pi," will finish the five days with $30 million, well above expectations. Fox had the PG-rated "Pi" in 2,902 theaters -- 2,633 of which are 3D -- so it had the advantage of premium ticket pricing going for it.

"We've been pinching ourselves since Wednesday when we saw where this was going," Fox's head of distribution Chris Aronson told TheWrap Sunday.

Its subject matter -- an Indian youth is lost at sea with a ravenous Bengal tiger aboard his small lifeboat for much of the film -- and $120 million production budget made it a box-office wild card for Fox. But the strong start should enable Fox to build on word-of-mouth and awards buzz over the next month.

"We took a chance because we believed in the movie. Our whole team did a great job on this movie and it's great to see it rewarded," Aronson said. "But mainly you have to appreciate the vision of Ang Lee and Elizabeth Gabler."

Gabler is the Fox 2000 executive credited with keeping the adaptation of Yann Martel's 2001 best-seller alive through seven years of twists and turns -- and several directors -- in development.

"Pi" opened No. 1 in the four overseas territories -- India, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan -- and brought in $17.5 million. China led the way with $10.5 million, followed by India at $3.4 million and Taiwan, Lee's home market, at $2.2 million.

"Red Dawn," the MGM remake of the 1984 John Millius invasion film acquired and distributed by FilmDistrict, opened with $22 million over the five days. Shot in 2009, the "Red Dawn" reboot was to have been released in 2010, but was delayed by financial troubles at MGM.

Audiences, which were 62 percent male and 52 percent over the age 25 years, gave it a "B" CinemaScore.

The Top 10 (3-day weekend totals):
"Twilight: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2," $43M
"Skyfall," $36M
"Lincoln," $25M
"Rise of the Guardians," $24M
"Life of Pi," $22M
"Wreck-It Ralph," $16.7M
"Red Dawn," $14.6M
"Flight," $8.6M
"Silver Linings Playbook," $4.6M
"Argo," $3.8M

Also on TheWrap:
'Rise of the Guardians' Barrier-Breaker: The First African-American to Direct a CG Animation Film
 A Year-End Box-Office Surge Signals Turnaround for 2012

Nov 25, 2012 4:31PM
I'm so happy it's the last one... now can they actually pick some well written books to turn into movies?? I saw a trailer for the third movie I think, during an MTV award show. it was so wooden I thought it was a parody...
Nov 26, 2012 5:11AM

still grossed less than Harry Potter

Nov 25, 2012 5:26PM
I still don't think Kristen and Rob are back together. Producers of this movie knew that the only way it would totally kick **** at the box office would be if die hard fans of the series truly believed that they've reunited. I would like to think they've worked things out and are happy now, but I'm just not seeing it. Several months from now when Twilight is out of theaters I suspect that they will announce they've broken up again.
Nov 26, 2012 6:17AM
Any fantasy series is better than Twilight.

It's a shame that Harry Potter had to end so soon.

Nov 26, 2012 12:26AM
The hype on these particular movies makes me sick.  Shoddy script, shoddy acting, but glorified by all, mainly because a lot of very young people like vampires, weirwolves, and ghouls.  That's all these movies are, is fantasy sci-fi, and none of these actors had to show any real skill to "make it".  Surely the 3 of them have better uses for their talents, before they get totally type-cast.
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