New Moon wins box office
To say that 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' exceeded expectations at the box office this weekend is like saying Secretariat ran away from the field in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Yeah, he ran away ... by 31 lengths! And that's about the distance between 'New Moon' and 'The Blind Side,' the weekend's surprising runner-up.

'New Moon' sold an estimated $140 million worth of tickets since its midnight showings Thursday and its last screenings Sunday night, making it the third-best opening for one movie, behind 'The Dark Knight' ($158.4 million) and 'Spider-Man 3' ($151.1 mil). The most optimistic forecasts had 'New Moon' grossing just north of $100 million. Instead, on Friday it broke the record for single-day box office take, with $72.7 mil, pushing previous single-day champ 'The Dark Knight' from its top spot.
New Moon wins box office
To say that 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon' exceeded expectations at the box office this weekend is like saying Secretariat ran away from the field in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. Yeah, he ran away ... by 31 lengths! And that's about the distance between 'New Moon' and 'The Blind Side,' the weekend's surprising runner-up.

'New Moon' sold an estimated $140 million worth of tickets since its midnight showings Thursday and its last screenings Sunday night, making it the third-best opening for one movie, behind 'The Dark Knight' ($158.4 million) and 'Spider-Man 3' ($151.1 mil). The most optimistic forecasts had 'New Moon' grossing just north of $100 million. Instead, on Friday it broke the record for single-day box office take, with $72.7 mil, pushing previous single-day champ 'The Dark Knight' from its top spot.

But 'New Moon' has shattered the record for a non-summer movie opening and, in doing so, led the film industry to its second busiest weekend ever. When all the grosses from all movies playing this weekend are tallied up Monday, cash registers will have run up nearly $250 million. 'Dark Knight' led its weekend field to the record of $260.8 million in mid-July last year. The third best single weekend gross was $205.6 million, set in July of '06 with 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest' leading the pack.

Another record that no one keeps but which was surely broken is that between them, 'New Moon' and 'The Blind Side' were the two most review-proof movies opening on the same weekend. 'New Moon''s rating on Metacritic.com, which gathers and assesses reviews of leading critics around the country, was 46 on a scale of 100, and the rating for 'Blind Side,' which grossed an astounding $34.5 million, was just 52.

'Twilight's' fan base has grown overseas, as well, grossing nearly $120 million in 25 countries outside the U.S. and Canada. The movies are still chick flicks, but the chicks are getting older. Exit polls show that 'New Moon' is about as popular with women in their 20s and 30s as with teenage girls.

'The Blind Side' blind-sided box office analysts. I predicted a puny $12 million opening for the inspirational Sandra Bullock sports drama, about one-third of what it ended up doing. Clearly, a lot of people who went to theaters to see 'New Moon' couldn't get in right away and watched 'The Blind Side' while waiting. The good news for those still waiting is that most fans have already seen the vampire movie. Its business dropped 41% on Saturday.

'2012,' last weekend's blockbuster opener, saw its business drop nearly 60% from first to second weekend, but still took in a healthy $26.5 million, running its 10-day total to $102 million. 'Planet 51,' a Spanish-made animated movie about an American astronaut, was fourth with $12.6 million, while 'Disney's A Christmas Carol' fell more than expected with a third weekend gross of $12.2 million.

'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire' finished sixth, after expanding to 629 theaters and taking in $11 million. The indie hit has now topped $21 million in total ticket sales.

The line-up of new movies opening over the long Thanksgiving weekend does not include any obvious blockbusters, so the top six films from this weekend should keep trucking right through the holiday. Here's the top 10 for the weekend:

1. 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon,' $140.7 million (4,024 theaters).
2. 'The Blind Side,' $34.5 million (3,110).
3. '2012,' $26.5 million (3,408).
4. 'Planet 51,' $12.6 million (3,035).
5. 'Disney's A Christmas Carol,' $12.2 million (3,578).
6. 'Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire," $11 million (629).
7. 'The Men Who Stare at Goats," $2.8 million (2,056).
8. 'Couples Retreat,' $2 million (1,712).
9. 'The Fourth Kind,' $1.7 (1,647).
10. 'Law Abiding Citizen,' $1.6 (1,327).