That’s not to say it didn’t make blockbuster dollars this weekend. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 did make its groove on several record charts. It had the third biggest opening day with $72m. It had the second biggest opening in November behind New Moon, the second film of the franchise. And it had the fifth largest opening in history. Those are some impressive placements in the grand scheme of things. But this is Twilight we’re talking about, and any way to shed a negative light on the subject is grounds for some back-patting.

The fourth film of the series, and first of the two-part finale, still had a very impressive debut, another clear indicator the franchise is anything but losing steam. Summit Entertainment did just right for themselves when they bought the rights all those years ago. It was a risky gamble a la Warner Bros. committing to the seven-part Harry Potter series, but, like Harry Potter, this one has proven to be paying off in abundance. With an additional $144m in foreign markets, Breaking Dawn – Part 1 is already nearing $300m worldwide, a three-fold return on the reportedly $110m film. With the final final movie of the series hitting November 2012, Summit is sure to be looking for their next big venture in long-term franchising. I’m not sure the Step Up series has it in it to make up for the Twilight movies ending, but, in a perfect world…

Also in that perfect world, the Happy Feet movies would be massive, blockbuster hits, as well. Sure, the first movie nearly brought in $200m domestic in 2006, upwards of $400m worldwide. However, Happy Feet Two didn’t even come close to the $41.5m opening weekend the first movie had. $22m for an opening weekend is nothing to sneeze at, but it isn’t anything to stomp your feet over, either, especially considering the animated feature market. Without much longevity, we probably won’t be in store for a third adventure with Mumble and his penguin family any time soon. At least not theatrically. The franchise could go the way of The Land Before Time and be an eight-part straight-to-DVD series. They could probably even get Robin Williams back.

One movie that did surprise with its ability to pull in box office numbers was Alexander Payne’s The Descendants. Granted, the film starred George Clooney, never a bad thing when you’re trying to rope in moviegoer dollars. But on only 29 screens, it didn’t seem likely the film would break $1m let alone chart. Not many of us were expected a $42,000 per screen average on this one, though. You know Fox Searchlight smells a winner, and The Descendants is sure to break out into wide release either next Wednesday due to the Thanksgiving holiday or the weekend after that. You can also expect Clooney to be a shoo-in for the Best Actor nomination, but that’s not for lack of deserving it.

The rest of the box office chart saw many films dropping rather heavily. Immortals had the biggest, over 60%, but Jack and Jill, Puss in Boots, A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, and In Time all had 50% drops or higher. In some cases it was much higher. It’s hard to compete when a new Twilight movie is out, even when you’re completely outside of its demographic. That demographic being “people who like really awful movies.” I guess that explains why Tower Heist didn’t drop all that hard. Oh, Ratner hate.

Here’s how the weekend broke down:

  1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 – $139.5m NEW
  2. Happy Feet 2 – $22m NEW
  3. Immortals – $12.2m (-62%) $52.9m total
  4. Jack and Jill – $12m (-52%) $41m total
  5. Puss in Boots – $10.7m (-56.6%) $122.3m total
  6. Tower Heist – $7m (-45.2%) $53.4m total
  7. J. Edgar – $5.9m (-47.4%) $20.6m total
  8. A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas – $2.9m (-51%) $28.3m total
  9. In Time – $1.6m (-59%) $33.4m total
  10. The Descendants – $1.2m NEW

That brought the whole weekend to $215m, not the biggest weekend in history, as I so naively predicted, but still an impressive number that puts the industry far away from a slump. The weekend numbers look to be up there if not quite that level of success. Breaking Dawn will continue to strive well through the Thanksgiving weekend, but families will be out in droves to see the likes of Hugo, Arthur Christmas, and The Muppets, all opening wide on Wednesday.

The Muppets will be eyeballing that top spot, but it will be tough to wrestle it away from Breaking Dawn. Even if you put Animal in there again Taylor Lautner. I mean, I know which one of those I’d put my money on, but I’m well outside the targeted millions and millions of Twilight fans who made Breaking Dawn an already success.

We’ll be back on Tuesday to see how the weekend is shaping up.


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