Today, things are different. The returning stars -- Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner -- are 'Twilight'-tested and approved, and the second movie, 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon,' enters its opening weekend with even higher expectations. Some Hollywood insiders believe that because of the heat surrounding its stars and the fact that 'New Moon' is opening in about 600 more theaters than the first film, it will sell more than $100 million worth of tickets through Sunday. When the first movie adaptation from Stephanie Meyer's 'Twilight' vampire novels opened a year ago today, the title was the attraction. Very few people were familiar with the actors cast in the roles of characters that fans had come to see and love only in their heads. Of course, the title proved to be enough: the movie had a $69.6 million three-day opening on its way to a $191.5 million domestic run.
Today, things are different. The returning stars -- Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner -- are 'Twilight'-tested and approved, and the second movie, 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon,' enters its opening weekend with even higher expectations. Some Hollywood insiders believe that because of the heat surrounding its stars and the fact that 'New Moon' is opening in about 600 more theaters than the first film, it will sell more than $100 million worth of tickets through Sunday.
Only the 2005 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,' the fourth picture in that series, cleared the $100 million hurdle for a weekend opening in November. Perhaps because the child in me is a boy, I think the Potter fan base was bigger then than 'Twilight's' is now. I expect 'New Moon' to rise over the $90 million mark but not get to $100 million.
If there are enough moviegoers left over to watch two other new movies -- the Sandra Bullock sports drama 'The Blind Side' and the animated adventure 'Planet 51' -- and popular hold-overs '2012,' 'A Christmas Carol,' and an expanding 'Precious,' the box office record for a single November weekend may be broken. Gitesh Pandya, the title character at boxofficeguru.com, says domestic theaters may take in more than $200 million this weekend.
Much of whatever is taken in will be for Roland Emmerich's '2012,' entering its second weekend after a $65 million opening last week. Action thrillers generally show a large drop in their second weekends and with teenage girls pulling their boyfriends out of the '2012' line and into the 'New Moon' line with them, the disaster movie may show an even greater drop. It still won't be the end of the world for Emmerich; look for '2012' to gross about $26 million to $28 million.
'Disney's A Christmas Carol' had a lower-than-expected opening three weeks ago, which many people attributed to its being released a few weeks too early. People tend to get into their traditional holiday mood after Thanksgiving. And the motion-capture animated movie did better than expected last week, so it may have legs all the way to New Year's. It faces some competition for family dollars from 'Planet 51,' a Spanish animated production, but not much, I expect.
'A Christmas Carol' should do around $16 million to $18 million over its third weekend and go up from there over Thanksgiving and through December.
'The Blind Side,' opening in 3,100 theaters, stars Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw as a couple who take in an underprivileged black football player and tutor him for his future, first as an All-America lineman for the University of Mississippi, and then a first-round draft pick for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens. Bullock won't be much of a draw for this kind of movie, but it has some family appeal. Look for it to do around $12 million this weekend.
'Planet 51, which features the voices of John Cleese, Jessica Biel and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, follows the adventures of an American astronaut on a planet whose rubbery green residents are enjoying a 1950s American lifestyle. The trailers look cute, but it doesn't figure to do much more opening business than the animated 'Astro Boy' did last month. I expect 'Planet 51' to do between $7 million and $9 million.
The year's critical and commercial indie hit, 'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire,' expands again this weekend, from 174 to about 600 theaters. Its per-theater average, which was $100,000 the first weekend and $33,762 the second, will drop by at least 50%, which might still give it a $10 million weekend.
Here's how I think the weekend will turn out:
1. 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon.' $90-100 million.
2. '2012.' $26-28 million.
3. 'Disney's A Christmas Carol.' $16-17 million.
4. 'The Blind Side.' $12 million.
5. 'Precious.' $9-10 million.