A female-dominated audience drove Twilight's opening weekend to among the biggest in Hollywood history: a $70.6 million Friday-Sunday gross, per studio estimates.
"This is a game-changer. This is an industry-changing performance," Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock said today. "With the success of Sex and the City, and Mamma Mia!, we've awoken a sleeping giant at the box office."
Exit polling showed 75 percent of Twilight's audience was female. Box office stats show the movie is the biggest opener for a movie directed by a woman (Catherine Hardwicke).
The vampire romance also played well to the young—overall, 55 percent of ticket buyers were under age 25.
As for other Twilight factoids, sequel news and other highlights from the weekend box office...
Going into the weekend, Twilight was expected to make, at best, a big $60 million. Where did the extra $10 million come from? Word of mouth, said Summit Entertainment distribution president Richie Fay, who talked of teen girls catching the Friday midnight screenings, and then deciding they had to see the movie again—and again. "It turned out they really liked the movie," Fay said.
Of the top 30 openers of all time, of which Twilight is now one, only seven cost less than $100 million to produce. And only one, The Passion of the Christ, cost less than the $35 million Twilight.
If Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince had opened Friday, which, as its fans can attest, it didn't, then Twilight would have opened in December, and, Bock thinks, it would've opened smaller. With Potter around, he said, Twilight "just wouldn't have had the opportunity to open on as many theaters."
Thanks to Twilight, Hugh Jackman's unbeloved Van Helsing is no longer the top-opening vampire movie of all time, per the stats at Box Office Mojo.
Twilight didn't just sell tickets; it sold tickets fast. At one point on Friday, Fandango reported selling five Twilight tickets per second. (Fandango and E! Online are both owned by Comcast.)
So, when's the sequel opening? Fay said he guessed an official announcement, detailing a release date and principle players, could come this week.
For movies that weren't on Team Edward, dethroned champ Quantum of Solace ($27.4 million) and the debuting Bolt ($27 million) did okay.
On the upside, the latest James Bond is making money faster than the last James Bond, Casino Royale. Quantum's already made $109.5 million domestically.
On the downside, the new Bond is fading faster than the last Bond. Casino Royale only fell off 25 percent in its second weekend compared to Quantum's nearly 60 percent plunge.
Slumdog Millionaire is the one weekend movie that outdid Twilight. The India-set fantasy averaged an apparent weekend-best $31,063 at each of its 32 theaters.
Here's a recap of the top-grossing weekend films based on Friday-Sunday estimates compiled by Exhibitor Relations:
Twilight, $70.6 million
Quantum of Solace, $27.4 milliion
Bolt, $27 million
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, $16 million
Role Models, $7.2 million
Changeling, $2.6 million
High School Musical 3: Senior Year, $2 million
Zack and Miri Make a Porno, $1.7 million
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, $1.67 million
The Secret Life of Bees, $1.3 million
(Originally published Nov. 23, 2008 at 9:28 a.m. PT)