Twilight: Eclipse box office: Third Twilight Saga movie – and first released in the summer – has shattered several domestic records
According to studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com, on its first day out, Wednesday, June 30, Summit Entertainment’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse grossed an astounding $68.5 million – including a record-setting $30.1 million from midnight screenings – at the North American (U.S. and Canada) box office. Pundits’ opening-day estimates had ranged from $50–$75 million.
Directed by David Slade, and starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, this third installment in the Twilight Saga franchise cost a reported $68 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses). If accurate, that means Eclipse – like New Moon before it – raked in more on a single day than its total production budget. A rare feat indeed for a major Hollywood release.
Now, which North American records (not adjusted for inflation) has Eclipse broken?
- Top-grossing midnight screenings ever, beating previous record-holder New Moon (an estimated $26.3 million).
- Top-grossing IMAX midnight screenings, with earnings estimated at more than $1 million from 193 locations.
- Top-grossing summer day ever, beating Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight ($67.2 million in July 2008).
- Top-grossing Wednesday ever, beating Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($62 million in late June 2009).
And here’s another box-office-related record: On opening day, U.S. and Canadian Twihards and Twihaters were able to choose from 4,416 venues (increased to 4,468 by Friday) to cheer/snicker at Bella Swan bouncing back and forth between the vampire Edward Cullen and the werewolf Jacob Black. That’s more theaters than ever before.
Key domestic records left unbroken
Now, which key domestic box office records was Twilight: Eclipse unable to break?
For starters, the best first day ever still belongs to Chris Weitz’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($72.7 million), released on a Friday in November 2009. Eclipse is the runner-up.
For comparison’s sake: The Jon Favreau-Robert Downey Jr. blockbuster Iron Man 2 – like Eclipse, a sequel – debuted with $51.2 million on its first day out (Friday) a few weeks ago, while the biggest single-day take of James Cameron’s mammoth hit Avatar was $28.3 million last Dec. 26.
Two other unbroken domestic records are those of best (first) weekend and best Fourth of July weekend, which remain in the hands of, respectively, The Dark Knight ($158.4 million) and the 2004 Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire collaboration Spider-Man 2 ($88.2 million; $113 million adjusted for inflation).
Eclipse collected $64.8 million on its first weekend out, July 2–4.
Apples, oranges & pineapples
Of course, The Dark Knight opened on a Friday; its first weekend was also its first three days out. (On its first three days, Wed.–Fri., Eclipse grossed $120.9 million.) Spider-Man 2, on the other hand, opened on Wednesday, June 30 – just like Eclipse.
Caveat: On the July 4 weekend, Eclipse went against fellow newcomer The Last Airbender, which debuted on Thursday, July 1; M. Night Shyamalan’s 3D-converted fantasy adventure went on to gross a better than expected $40.3 million. Spider-Man 2, on the other hand, had its first weekend to itself; the no. 2 title was Michael Moore’s controversial documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 (an estimated $16.4 million), then on its second weekend out.
An aside: Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight, which opened on a Friday in November 2008, pulled in $69.6 million on its debut weekend.
The box office record that should have been left intact
All three Twilight Saga movies to date have been plagued by the Gelatin-Legged Box Office Syndrome, likely caused by a combination of mediocre reviews and the general perception that the Twi-movies are girlish. Thus, strong debuts have been followed by precipitous drop-off rates.
That helps to explain why on July 1 Twilight: Eclipse broke a unique – and uniquely undesirable – record: Steepest Wednesday–Thursday decline, 65 percent.
That also helps to explain why Eclipse brought in “only” $157.6 million by the end of Sunday – far less than the rosiest ($200+ million) predictions.
Admittedly, the record-shattering $30.1 million earned from midnight screenings was chiefly to blame for the Wed.–Thu. drop-off rate, while the fact that The Last Airbender opened that day surely didn’t help matters any – including over the weekend.
For comparison’s sake: In spite of dismal reviews, on its first five days out (Wed.–Sun.) the ungirlish Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen collected $200.1 million at around the same time last year, while the far better-received (and guy-oriented) Spider-Man 2 reached $152.4 million in 2004 (or about $195 million today).
Crossing the $200 million & $250 million milestones
Update: Twilight: Eclipse crossed the domestic $200 million milestone on its ninth day, reaching $203.7 million while landing in the no. 10 slot on Box Office Mojo’s “fastest movies to reach $200 million” chart (not adjusted for inflation).
The other movies that crossed the $200 million mark on Day 9 are Pixar/Disney’s Toy Story 3, Spider-Man 3, and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
For comparison’s sake: New Moon crossed the $200 million mark on Day 8, landing in the list’s no. 4 slot, behind The Dark Knight, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
Update II: In the no. 14 slot on the Box Office Mojo chart, Eclipse passed the $250 million milestone on Day 16, right behind New Moon. Among the top 25 movies on the “fastest to $250 million” chart, New Moon and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix are the only two titles that failed to gross more than $300 million domestically.
Eclipse vs. New Moon: Lies, damned lies and box office rankings
Aug. 20 update: With a cume of $296.65 million, Twilight: Eclipse officially surpassed its predecessor, New Moon, at the domestic box office on Aug. 19 (Day 51). New Moon, which opened in fall 2009, ended its run with $296.62 million after 133 days.
But does “officially” mean “actually”?
Without adjusting for inflation or 3D/IMAX surcharges (to better reflect attendance figures), Eclipse is at no. 35 on Box Office Mojo’s chart of the biggest blockbusters ever in the U.S. and Canada. New Moon is no. 36.
Adjusted for inflation, neither movie is to be found among the Top 100. That particular chart begins with Victor Fleming’s Gone with the Wind ($1.6 billion) and ends with Lee Unkrich’s Toy Story 2 ($380.3 million).
New Moon remains ahead
So, adjusted for higher ticket prices – using the National Association of Theater Owners’ annual average – New Moon would have grossed approximately $299.6 million in 2010 – nearly $3 million more than Eclipse’s total to date.
Something else: Eclipse was screened at 193 IMAX theaters in North America, which are about 30 percent more expensive than regular movie houses. In its first week out, Eclipse pulled in $9 million at those IMAX venues (the equivalent of approx. $6.9 million at a regular theater). New Moon didn’t have that revenue-inflating luxury.
And that means for Eclipse to pass New Moon in number of tickets sold, it’ll have to gross – and this is a guesstimate based on the information above – at least another $5–6 million domestically, or reach a cume around $302–$303 million. Chances are it’ll get there and a little beyond before running its course.
Only Twilight Saga movie to reach $300 million domestically
Update: As it turned out, Eclipse – barely – became the only Twilight Saga movie to earn more than $300 million domestically (on Day 81), ultimately cuming at $300.5 million.
And that means New Moon remains the most-watched Twi-entry on U.S. and Canadian screens, especially when one considers that Summit had presented a one-night-only Twilight/New Moon combo on June 26 – two days after Eclipse’s world premiere in Los Angeles – that brought in $2.4 million from 2,037 sites.
A partial lunar eclipse could be seen in parts of the world on that date, while assorted Twilight Saga cast members could be seen in attendance at theaters across the United States.
Another anomalous global blockbuster
Internationally, Twilight: Eclipse scored $398 million, bringing its final worldwide total to $698.5 million.
Like Twilight and New Moon before it, just as impressive as the box office figures is the fact that the Kristen Stewart-focused Eclipse was an anomalous global blockbuster, as it revolves around a live-action female character.
Indeed, among the Top Twelve worldwide box office hits released in 2010 (Eclipse was no. 6), the only other title to have a live-action woman at its center was Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, starring Mia Wasikowska.
Eclipse’s top international markets were the following: The United Kingdom ($45.7 million), Germany ($33.1 million), France ($33 million), Brazil ($30.5 million), Russia/CIS ($26.4 million), Spain ($25.1 million), Australia ($22.1 million), Italy ($20.7 million), and Mexico ($20.6 million).
Eclipse movie cast
Besides Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner, the extensive Twilight: Eclipse cast includes:
Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Bryce Dallas Howard (replacing Rachelle Lefevre), Xavier Samuel, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Nikki Reed, Dakota Fanning, Booboo Stewart, Billy Burke, Daniel Cudmore, Jodelle Ferland, Cameron Bright, and Sarah Clarke.
Plus Michael Welch, Charlie Bewley, Kiowa Gordon, Justin Chon, Julia Jones, Alex Meraz, Jack Huston, and Oscar nominees Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace, 2004) and Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, 2009).
Melissa Rosenberg (Twilight, New Moon) was credited for the adaptation of the third installment of Stephenie Meyer’s fantasy book series.
“Twilight: Eclipse Box Office” endnotes
Unless otherwise noted, “Twilight: Eclipse Box Office: Several Records Broken” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should usually be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources.
Comments about Twilight: Eclipse and other titles being profitable or money-losers at the box office are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that contractual details and data regarding pre-sales, rebates, and other credits that help to split/alleviate production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses can be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is accounted for).
Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.
Twilight: Eclipse images: Kimberley French | Summit Entertainment.
“Twilight: Eclipse Box Office: Several Records Broken” last updated in May 2022.