Kristen Stewart, Breaking Dawn Part 2

The Lord of the Rings trilogy did it: It saved its best and biggest box-office performance for last. The Harry Potter series did it, and then some: Deathly Hallows: Part 2 shattered franchise and Hollywood records alike.

Twilight didn't do it, not even with Breaking Dawn Part 2's $141.1 million debut weekend

Was the franchise past its prime? Did the Kristen Stewart scandal hurt the finale's bottom line? Is Harry Potter simply an impossible standard to judge a franchise by?

Breaking down Breaking Dawn Part 2's debut

Well, at least one of those questions is on the money.

For starters, yes, Twilight peaked as an opening-day and opening-weekend force with New Moon, the vampire saga's second movie.

"It just may have [hit] at a time when we had new audiences," Summit Entertainment exec Richie Fay says of the 2009 release.

Every franchise is different: Both Star Wars trilogies never got bigger than their first movies; the Pirates of the Caribbean films have never been bigger than the first sequel.

The thing with Twilight is that the series is still growing, it's just that it's growing overseas.

Last year's Breaking Dawn Part 1, which didn't come close to topping Eclipse as Twilight's all-time domestic champ, moved past the 2010 movie and all of its predecessors to reign as the series' top worldwide film. After a $200 million launch of its own overseas, Breaking Dawn Part 2 could challenge for the title.

If the new movie falls short as a record-setter, Twilight's studio doesn't have any concern that the culprit was Stewart's tabloid summer, which featured intense coverage of her and her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, a public apology to her Twilight costar Robert Pattinson, and the occasional tear-stained fan

"It was not a real issue," Fay says. "…It had time to play out, and it seems to have moved to the back page."

Why it always looked doubtful that the Stewart scandal would matter

The box-office numbers show no defections from Breaking Dawn Part 1 to Breaking Dawn Part 2. Part 2 even ranked higher on the likability scale, earning the franchise's best-ever CinemaScore from opening-weekend audiences, a straight A.  

All of this leads to the possibility that perhaps the last Twilight couldn't go out like the last Harry Potter, all mind-blowingly record-sized, because only Harry Potter is Harry Potter.

"I don't think any of us in our wildest imagination...ever felt this was Harry Potter-ish, if you will," Fay says.

Here's a complete look at all the Twilight opening weekends—the performances by New Moon, Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Breaking Dawn Part 1 belong among the Top 10 debuts of all-time:

  1. New Moon, $142.8 million
  2. Breaking Dawn Part 2, $141.1 million 
  3. Breaking Dawn Part 1, $138.1 million
  4. Twilight, $69.6 million
  5. Eclipse, $64.8 million

(Notes: Breaking Dawn Part 2's gross includes 10 p.m., Thursday shows along with the usual Friday-Sunday screenings; Eclipse opened on a Wednesday.)

Our two cents on the best scenes from the Twilight movies

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