(updates with quotes from "Twilight" director in paragraphs
10-11; Disney comment in paragraph 12)
By Dean Goodman
LOS ANGELES Nov 23 "Twilight," the vampire
romance that has spurred feverish anticipation among young
female moviegoers, took a bigger-than-expected $70.55 million
bite out of the weekend box office in North America, according
to studio estimates issued on Sunday.
The teen smash crushed the competition, including "Bolt," a
Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) canine cartoon that made its debut at
No. 3 with a disappointing $27 million.
"Twilight's" showing was the best opening weekend for a
movie since "The Dark Knight" launched with a record $158
million in July.
Last weekend's champion, the James Bond outing "Quantum of
Solace," slipped to No. 2 with $27.4 million.
"Twilight," the first in a planned franchise based on the
best-selling books by Stephenie Meyer, was released by nascent
independent studio Summit Entertainment LLC. Studios such as
MTV Films and Fox Atomic had passed on the project.
Not unlike each new "Harry Potter" movie, the film has had
fans on tenterhooks for months, in this case young girls and
their mothers. Many fans camped out overnight ahead of the
film's world premiere in Los Angeles on Monday. Hundreds of
"Twilight" performances set for midnight Thursday sold out
Going into the weekend, industry pundits had forecast a
three-day opening somewhere above $50 million but that target
was blown out by the film's $36 million take on Friday -- a sum
that almost matched its official budget.
Women accounted for three-quarters of the audience and 55
percent of viewers were under the age of 25, Summit said. It
was confident the movie could spread its appeal to other
"Where the young girls are, the young boys soon will
follow," said Richie Fay, president of domestic theatrical
distribution at Summit.
The film's director, Catherine Hardwicke, said she attended
a screening on Saturday afternoon where a thirty-something
woman told her that she had already seen the film eight times.
But the audience also included "a ton of men ... some pretty
old dudes," Hardwicke said.
British actor Robert Pattinson stars as the brooding
vampire Edward and Kristen Stewart plays the object of his
affection, Bella. A sequel is in the works, based on the second
book, "New Moon." Hardwicke has the option to direct, but said
she wanted to make sure it is planned the right way since it
involves werewolves and an Italian setting.
"Bolt" features the voices of John Travolta and Miley
Cyrus. Pundits had forecast an opening upward of $40 million.
Disney said it would have preferred an opening in the $30
million range but hoped to recover in the coming Thanksgiving
The last Disney cartoon -- as opposed to any from its Pixar
division -- was "Meet the Robinsons," which opened to $25
million in March 2007. Just two weeks ago, rival studio
DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc DWA.N sequel "Madagascar: Escape
2 Africa" opened to $63.1 million. It fell two places to No. 4
this weekend with $16.0 million and a total of $137 million.
"Quantum of Solace" has earned $109.5 million after 10 days
and remained the No. 1 film internationally with sales of $40.6
million. Its worldwide total stands at $418 million. The film
was released by Columbia Pictures, a unit of Sony Corp (6758.T)
(SNE.N), which produced the film with closely held
(Editing by Bill Trott)