UPDATE WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 25:
Here is a mid-week box office update. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse officially surpassed the domestic total of New Moon several days ago. The film took in another $75,817 on Monday from 557 locations for a per theater average of $136, representing a decrease of 53.5% from Sunday, and $75,445 on Tuesday from 557 locations, representing a 0.5% decrease from Monday. This adds up to a cumulative domestic total of $297,368,060 after 56 days in release. Adding in overseas returns of $380.6M gives Eclipse a current worldwide total of $677,968,060.
For those comparing the films in The Twilight Saga, at this point in its release history (after 56 days) New Moon had taken in $291,300,411. Eclipse is now at $297,368,060. Both films hit the $250M mark on the 16th day. The total domestic gross for New Moon was $296,623,634 (after 132 days). Eclipse has now broken that total by $744,426 (after 56 days). The film is now within striking distance of the elusive $300M mark. It needs about $2.6M to get to that number. It took New Moon 20 more days to earn an additional $2.6M after its 56th day, and Eclipse is clearly doing better. On the other hand, New Moon was still in 1,167 theaters after 56 days while Eclipse is in 557 locations. Still, even after New Moon’s theater count had dropped to 444 (after 63 days) it still went on to take in another $3.8M. Therefore, it should take no more than one more month for Eclipse to earn another $2.6M and pass $300M.
Now wouldn’t be a bad time to start planning for your DVD release parties. The street dates for Twilight and New Moon were both on day 121 of their theatrical runs (Saturdays). Following that line of thinking, Eclipse’s 121st day will be October 28th, a Thursday. The following Saturday would be October 30th — Halloween weekend. On the other hand, sources have told me that Summit is planning for a holiday season release — some say November while others say Christmas time.
Keeping track of records, the film with the least number of days to reach $250M was The Dark Knight, which hit $261,847,503 after eight days. New Moon is in 13th place, having taken 16 days to reach $251,530,186. Eclipse lands just behind it in 14th place, taking 16 days to reach $251,371,417. This puts the film ahead of Shrek the Third, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and Iron Man 2, which all took 17 days to hit $250M.
So far, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse has set all-time box office records for Opening Wednesdays, Single Day Wednesday Gross (non-adjusted), and Single Day Wednesday Gross (adjusted for inflation). It is in second place for Opening Day Gross, Single Day Gross, and Non-Opening Thursday Gross. Release records include Widest Releases, Widest Independent Releases, Widest Opening Independent Releases, Widest PG-13 Rated Openings, and Widest PG-13 Rated Releases.
There’s been quite a bit of discussion online regarding the film’s box office success. In particular, I wonder about the fairness of comparing the Twilight films against each other. Despite the fact that Eclipse has now passed New Moon in domestic totals, the validity of judging one against the other is questionable given their strikingly different release schedules. As I’ve been saying since it opened, the idea was not to compete against or beat New Moon’s early numbers. That may be a goal of some people but the idea is to make money, and maybe set some records in the process.
First, remember that the film’s opening weekend started on a Wednesday. There is no way that a “weekend” that begins on a Wednesday can be compared to a “normal” 3-day weekend (when New Moon opened). So any comparison between the two based on how many “weekends” it’s been out simply isn’t valid. Next, look at the time of year the two films were released. New Moon came out during the Thanksgiving-Christmas holiday season. It’s a big time of year for Hollywood but still doesn’t compare to summer, when they put out their “tentpole” films — the potential blockbusters that will keep the studios in the black for another year. The competition is much more fierce beginning Memorial Day weekend through the 4th of July. It’s simply a different marketplace.
Is Summit happy with the film’s box office returns? I don’t know but I’m fairly sure they must be. Again, the goal was not to “beat New Moon.” That may be something the press or some others will latch on to but it may not be a fair comparison. It was very easy to compare Twilight to New Moon since they opened at the same time one year apart. Not so much New Moon to Eclipse. I think it’s wise to judge the film on its own merits a box office success, with DVDs and more to follow.