by Ray Subers
While it wasn't quite able to reach the series high mark, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1's outstanding estimated $139.5 million opening indicated that the sexy teen vampires are as popular as ever. What does appear to have lost some of its appeal, however, is dancing penguins: Happy Feet Two struggled to even open to half as much as its popular 2006 predecessor. Overall box office was up around 14 percent to at least $221 million, and the weekend could wind up ranking as the fifth-highest on record.
Breaking Dawn's $139.5 million opening is second-best among Twilight movies behind 2009's New Moon ($142.7 million). That's a small gap, though, and Breaking Dawn still managed to claim fifth place on the all-time opening weekend chart behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, The Dark Knight, Spider-Man 3 and New Moon. As is typical for the Twilight movies, its weekend was incredibly front-loaded with 51.6 percent of the gross coming from Friday showings (including its $30.25 midnight tally).
The audience was 80 percent female and 60 percent over 21 years old. That's more female-skewing than Eclipse (65 percent) but even with New Moon (80 percent). Also, the audience was younger for those movies (only 50 percent over 21 years old), though it's logical for the crowd to age along with the series. Breaking Dawn received a "B+" CinemaScore, which improved to an "A-" among females.
Happy Feet Two debuted to an estimated $22 million, or just over half as much as the $41.5 million that the first Happy Feet opened to on the same weekend in 2006. While that was going up against a weaker competitor (Casino Royale opened to less than a third of Breaking Dawn Part 1), Happy Feet Two did receive a bit of a boost from 3D with 50 percent of its weekend gross coming from 2,825 3D screens. The audience was 57 percent female and 53 percent under 25 years old, and the movie received a "B+" CinemaScore.
Immortals plummeted 62 percent to an estimated $12.3 million. That's an improvement over August's Conan the Barbarian (68 percent), but it's off from Clash of the Titans (57 percent) and 300 (54 percent). Through 10 days in theaters, the fantasy epic has earned just shy of $53 million.
Jack and Jill fell 52 percent to $12 million in its second weekend. The decline was better than that of star Adam Sandler's You Don't Mess with the Zohan (58 percent) and Grown Ups (53 percent), though those were both Summer releases that are less dependent on strong weekend grosses. This isn't an impressive hold for a late-year release, and the movie's $41 million total lags significantly behind all of Sandler and director Dennis Dugan's recent collaborations.
Against Breaking Dawn and Happy Feet Two, Puss in Boots took its first major hit this weekend. The animated prequel fell 57 percent to an estimated $10.7 million, which brings its total to $122.3 million. It will pass fellow DreamWorks Animation movie Bee Movie ($126.6 million) sometime this week, and there's still a chance that it closes ahead of Megamind's $148.4 million as well.
Easing 45 percent to an estimated $7 million, Tower Heist had the best hold among the Top Eight movies this weekend. Through its third frame, the Ben Stiller-Eddie Murphy action comedy has earned $53.4 million.
J. Edgar was off 47 percent to $5.9 million in its second outing. That drop is nearly identical to director Clint Eastwood's Hereafter last Fall, albeit with slightly lower grosses. J. Edgar has now made $20.7 million, and it looks like it's going to be a tough road to get past $40 million.
The Descendants cracked the Top 10 with an estimated $1.2 million from just 29 theaters. That's a stronger start than director Alexander Payne's Sideways and About Schmidt, though their patterns were more gradual so it isn't exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Those two movies finished with $71.5 million and $65 million, respectively, which is what The Descendants ought to be shooting for after this strong start.