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.
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.
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."
"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 $221 million. The thriller, which stars Daniel Craig and is the biggest Bond movie ever at the box office, has taken in more than $700 million worldwide.
DreamWorks' "Lincoln," the Steven Spielberg-directed tale of the 16th U.S. president's fight to abolish slavery, took in a better-than-expected $34 million to raise its domestic gross after three weeks to $62 million. Distributor Disney has to be pleased with its per-screen average of $16,896 on 2,018 screens over the weekend, best of any movie in the top ten.
"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. Audiences -- 52 male, 60 percent 25 and older -- gave it an "A" CinemaScore.
"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% male and 52% over the age 25 years, gave it a "B" CinemaScore.