'Twilight' keeps shining with $42M second weekend

Associated Press Modified: November 27, 2011 at 3:00 pm •  Published: November 27, 2011
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The latest "Twilight" movie has plenty of daylight left with a second-straight win at the weekend box office.

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1" took in $42 million domestically over the three-day weekend and $62.3 million in the five-day Thanksgiving boom time from Wednesday to Sunday. That raised its domestic total to $221.3 million, while the Summit Entertainment release added $71.5 million overseas to lift the international total to $268 million and the worldwide take to $489.3 million.

Debuting at No. 2 was Disney's family flick "The Muppets," with $29.5 million for the three-day weekend and $42 million over the five-day holiday haul.

Three other family films rounded out the top-five: the Warner Bros. sequel "Happy Feet Two" at No. 3 with a three-day total of $13.4 million and $18.4 million for five days; Sony's animated comedy "Arthur Christmas" at No. 4 with $12.7 million for three days and $17 million for five days; and Paramount's epic adventure "Hugo" at No. 5 with $11.4 million for three days and $15.4 million for five days.

Between "Breaking Dawn" and the blitz of family films, analysts thought Hollywood had a shot at record revenue over Thanksgiving, one of the year's busiest weekends at movie theaters. But viewers did not come in anywhere close to record numbers.

"I was pretty surprised by this. I just thought this was the perfect combination of films in the marketplace," said Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com. "Maybe there was just too much out there."

Domestic revenue totaled $234 million from Wednesday to Sunday, well below the $273 million record set two years ago, when "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" led the Thanksgiving weekend, according to Hollywood.com. Receipts also fell short of last Thanksgiving's $264 million haul, when "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" finished on top.

Studio executives concede it's growing harder to lure fans into theaters given all the portable games, devices and other electronics people have to fill up their entertainment time. A so-so Thanksgiving on a weekend with such a good variety of movies could be a sign that Hollywood simply has to live with diminished expectations.

"I don't know that choice is ever a bad thing, and in terms of a weekend for families, this is one of the best," said Dave Hollis, head of distribution for Disney, which brought "The Muppets" back to the big-screen after a 12-year absence. "The challenge is breaking through and being relevant and meaningful and fresh enough to take the more finicky customers and have them choose you."

Disney reported that "The Muppets" drew a good mix of families and couples without children who fondly remember Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang on "The Muppet Show." The film stars Jason Segel and Amy Adams as fans helping to reunite the Muppets for a telethon to save their decaying studio.

"Breaking Dawn" was holding close to the pattern set by "New Moon" two years ago, though domestic revenues were off slightly. Factoring in higher ticket prices since "New Moon," the audience shrank even further for "Breaking Dawn."

"I think the audience has changed a bit. Everybody's grown a little older, and I guess we lose a few of our patrons to age," said Richie Fay, head of distribution for Summit.

With no big new releases coming next weekend, though, "Breaking Dawn" has a shot at making up some ground, Fay said.

"Happy Feet Two" has failed to live up to its Academy Award-winning predecessor, a blockbuster that took in nearly $200 million domestically. The sequel about dancing penguins has managed just $43.8 million since opening Nov. 18, a 10-day total that barely matches the opening-weekend gross of the 2006 original.

"Arthur Christmas," from the British animation unit Aardman that made "Chicken Run" and the "Wallace and Gromit" films, has long-haul potential because of its good reviews and holiday story line. The voice cast includes James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie and Jim Broadbent in a Christmas Eve romp about a child's present that falls through the cracks in Santa Claus' high-tech delivery operation.

"To have the one picture that really is kind of carrying the torch as a Christmas picture really bodes well for the future," said Rory Bruer, head of distribution for Sony.

Distributor Paramount has similar long-term hopes for Martin Scorsese's "Hugo," which also has great reviews. Based on a children's book, "Hugo" follows the adventures of an orphan boy who tends the clocks in a Paris train station and becomes caught up in unraveling a mystery that connects a surly old man (Ben Kingsley) and a mechanical automaton the youth is trying to repair.