LOS ANGELES Vampire romance "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" drew $30.25 million in box office blood at midnight screenings on Friday, eclipsing its predecessor and giving it a strong start to the weekend.
The film, which is the first part of the final segment in the series of films about a young woman and her bloodsucking lover, is expected to bring in upward of $140 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices over its opening weekend.
The series, which is based on the popular "Twilight" novels by Stephenie Meyer, is one of Hollywood's most lucrative franchises. "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" debuted in June 2010, and raked in $30.1 million in midnight showings. It went on to suck nearly $700 million from worldwide box offices.
The record for U.S. and Canadian ticket at midnight is held by the recent, final installment of the "Harry Potter" movies, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2." It debuted to $43.5 million at midnight and went on to claim another record: the best three-day weekend with $169.2 million in the United States and Canada.
But producer and distributor Summit Entertainment has cautioned box office watchers not to compare the two movies too closely due to several differentiating factors, including that the "Twilight" films are aimed mostly at females while "Harry Potter" targets broader audiences.
The "Twilight" movies made stars of Kristen Stewart, who plays the lovestruck Bella Swan, as well as Robert Pattinson as vampire Edward Cullen and Taylor Lautner as werewolf Jacob Black, both of whom vie for the affection of Swan.
Edward eventually wins Bella's heart and in "Breaking Dawn - Part 1," the pair are married. Their wedding and honeymoon are among the highlights of the new movie.
"Breaking Dawn - Part 1" also began its release in 54 markets outside North America on Friday, but early international ticket sales figures were not yet available.
The movie cost $110 million to make after production budget remakes. "Breaking Dawn - Part II" will hit theaters in 2012.