The Twilight Saga is set for a total eclipse of the box office

072265H1.jpgTake a cup of “Romeo and Juliet,” a tablespoon of “West Side Story,” a dash of “Dark Shadows,” a sprinkling of “Beverly Hills 90210” and a bucketful of teen angst and you have “The Twilight Saga.”

Click here for more on “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” and its prospects in the weekend box-office derby.

Over a billion dollars in worldwide box office, the biggest single-day gross in box office history ($72.7M – “New Moon”), the third biggest weekend opening ever ($142.8M – “New Moon”) and an excitement nearly unrivaled in the world of film and you have proof that the hunger for vampires and werewolves is very much alive and well in the late-2000’s.

Based on the massively successful novels by Stephanie Meyer, the “Twilight” series struck a major chord with teens all over the world and was perfectly positioned for the big screen treatment.  Casting for the first film was vital to the franchise’s enduring popularity and the choice of Kristen Stewart as brooding teen Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson as the charismatic and sensitive Edward Cullen was a match made in movie heaven.  The two instantly became the “it” couple and Pattinson became a teen idol almost overnight as teen girls seemingly devoted their every waking hour to information about the star in magazines and on fan sites around the world.

061987H1.jpgOn Friday, November 21, 2008 Summit Entertainment unleashed the first film simply called “Twilight” on the world and it debuted to huge box office numbers and left analysts and journalists scratching their heads.  With no real reference point, speculation was all over the place as to how the film might open.  $69.6 million gave the film a number one debut and showed that teen girls could rule the box office if they rallied behind a film and that their increasing clout at the ticket window was no longer in question.  Nearly $400 million in worldwide box office later, it was a foregone conclusion that the second novel would be made into a film and give the franchise its first sequel.  Directed by Catherine Hardwicke the first film achieved huge success, but her tenure as director was over and Chris Weitz (“About a Boy,” “The Golden Compass”) was brought in to direct the second installment and the box office results would be breathtaking.

070389H1.jpgA double-take and then a feeling of disbelief as “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” posted a single-day gross of $72.7 million.  The date was Friday, November 20, 2009 and after an astonishing and record-breaking $26.3 million in midnight screenings, the film obliterated all existing single-day records and made believers out of those that may have thought the success of the first film was a fluke.  Saturday was no slouch either with a whopping $42.3 million in domestic revenue and a Sunday that added another $27.8 million. The final weekend tally was $142,839,137: the third biggest opening weekend in history and the biggest non-summer debut ever!  The worldwide weekend figure was equally impressive with $260.9 million.  The love triangle hinted at in the first film was brought to the forefront as Taylor Lautner and his newly-found (and cinematically exploited) six-pack abs may have been responsible for countless millions in additional box office revenue.  

Of course this meant that the third film would be put on the fast track with only seven months separating the two films (as opposed to the full-year between “Twilight” and “New Moon”).  “Eclipse” would now become a full-fledged summer movie release.  Another change of Director seemingly continues to invigorate the franchise with David Slade (“Hard Candy,” “30 Days of Night” and The Stone Temple Pilots video for “Sour Girl”) creating the best of the three films.  “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” boasts more action, pathos and humor than the other films and therefore could have the most audience crossover potential (translation: guys won’t hate it).  Long term box office prospects could be strong as well with expected positive word-of-mouth via the various social networking platforms as well as more traditional channels.

“The Twilight Saga” has already established itself as one of the most successful movie franchises in box office history and when the film opens on Wednesday, June 30, that reputation should be further solidified with huge lines of fans, press reports of fan fever, strong reviews and mind-blowing box-office numbers.  All that and then we have “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” to look forward to on November 18, 2011.