- Twilight: New Moon box office: Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, Chris Weitz’s romantic fantasy featuring vampires, werewolves, and a few scattered humans is one of the year’s biggest blockbusters.
- On the downside, one key record remains unbroken while The Twilight Saga itself may be suffering from a debilitating box office weakness.
Twilight: New Moon box office: Follow-up to the 2008 sleeper hit breaks several domestic records – but not a crucial one
Budgeted at a reported $50 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses), Summit Entertainment’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon earned an unexpected $72.7 million on its first day out, Nov. 20, at the North American (U.S. and Canada) box office. That includes a record-setting $26.3 million from midnight screenings early on Friday.
Directed by Chris Weitz, and starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, this female-oriented sequel to Catherine Hardwicke’s 2008 sleeper hit Twilight has thus shattered the domestic single-day box office record held by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, which opened in mid-July 2008. Starring Christian Bale, Best Supporting Actor Oscar winner Heath Ledger, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the Batman Begins sequel took in $67.2 million on July 18.
As found at boxofficemojo.com and other sources, on its opening weekend Twilight: New Moon shattered the following records (not taking inflation into account, though that shouldn’t be much of an issue here):
- Biggest midnight gross ever: $26.3 million.
- Biggest opening day and biggest single day ever: $72.7 million vs. The Dark Knight’s $67.2 million.
- Biggest first two days ever: $115 million vs. The Dark Knight’s $114.8 million.
- Biggest November opening weekend ever: $142.8 million (Nov. 20–22), far surpassing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’s $102.7 million in 2005.
Yet there’s one crucial domestic box office record that New Moon failed to break.
Biggest opening weekend ever record remains elusive
As mentioned above, on its first weekend out Twilight: New Moon took in an impressive $142.8 million at the North American box office – in fact, that’s more than twice the $69.6 million the original Twilight brought in on its debut weekend in November 2008 and almost three-quarters of that film’s total domestic earnings.
Even so, New Moon failed to break the record for the best domestic opening weekend ever. That particular feat still belongs to Christopher Nolan’s – enthusiastically received – male-oriented superhero movie The Dark Knight, which brought in $158.4 million in July 2008, followed by another male-oriented superhero flick, the Sam Raimi-Tobey Maguire collaboration Spider-Man 3, which took in $151.1 million in May 2007.
But how could the movie with the biggest opening day ever fail to also have the biggest opening weekend ever?
See updated text further below for a potential explanation.
Anomalous global blockbuster
In other Twilight: New Moon box office news, the Top Ten movies on the Nov. 20–22 weekend grossed an astounding $258.6 million – the second highest amount ever in the domestic market (not adjusted for inflation), trailing only The Dark Knight’s debut weekend (July 18–20, 2008), when the U.S. and Canada box office soared to a little above $260 million.
Internationally, New Moon scored $118.1 million on its opening weekend, bringing its worldwide total to $260.9 million. But perhaps even more impressive than the numbers per se is the fact that New Moon is an anomalous global blockbuster, as it revolves around a live-action female character.
Only female-focused live-action title among Top 20 worldwide
Final updated figures: Twilight: New Moon ultimately raked in $296.6 million domestically and $413.2 million internationally, for a worldwide cume of $709.8 million.
A 2010 rerelease – in a double bill with Twilight – officially lifted New Moon’s cume to $297.8 million. Worldwide: $711 million.
Its top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($43.4 million), France ($39.2 million), Australia ($35.2 million), Germany ($34.6 million), Brazil ($30.6 million), Spain ($28.6 million), Italy ($20.6 million), Mexico ($18.8 million), and Russia/CIS ($18.6 million).
On the worldwide box office chart, New Moon – at no. 7 – is the only female-centered live-action title found among the Top 20 movies released in 2009.
Among the Top 30, there are three other titles: The Proposal, The Blind Side, and It’s Complicated – the first two starring Sandra Bullock and the third one starring Meryl Streep.
The Twilight Saga’s underlying box office weakness
Dec. 15 update: On Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 27–29), Twilight: New Moon was the no. 1 box office hit worldwide. Domestically, over the five-day (U.S.) holiday Chris Weitz’s romantic fantasy took in $66 million, reaching $230.7 million after only ten days out. For comparison’s sake: At the end of its run, Twilight reached $192.7 million at the U.S. and Canada box office.
Yet, despite its undeniable popularity New Moon suffers from a just as undeniable weakness: On Thanksgiving weekend, the romantic fantasy/adventure based on Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novel was down a whopping 70 percent in the domestic market – an alarming drop even while taking into account the previous weekend’s record-breaking midnight screenings.
Things didn’t get much better later on: On its third weekend out (Dec. 4–6) New Moon was down another 64 percent, while on its fourth weekend (Dec. 11–13) it was down a more modest but still significant 48 percent.
The likely issue
For comparison’s sake: The $8 million New Moon earned over the Dec. 11–13 weekend was only a little more than half of the gross of the Sandra Bullock blockbuster-in-the-making The Blind Side, which also opened on Nov. 20.
For comparison’s sake II: The original Twilight was down a steep 62 percent on its second weekend (also Thanksgiving), 51 percent on its third weekend, and 39 percent on its fourth weekend out.
The likely issue: The Twilight Saga clearly has an ardent – overwhelmingly young and female – fan base that will show up en masse on Day 1, but Summit has been unable to expand that base to Harry Potter levels. Generally negative reviews for both Twilight and New Moon have surely been no help. (New Moon’s initial audience was reportedly 50 percent under 21 and 80 percent female.)
Note: Bear in mind that this year’s critically panned male-skewed blockbusters like Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Justin Lin’s Fast & Furious also suffered steep drops – even if not necessarily as steep as New Moon’s – following their strong debuts.
Extensive multispecies cast
Set in the rainy town of Forks, Washington, Twilight: New Moon revolves around the willful but conflicted human adolescent Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), who, after being emotionally seduced and abandoned by the centenarian vegetarian vampire Edward Cullen (a non-human-blood-drinking Robert Pattinson) develops a strong bond with the young Quileute Indian Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who, much to his surprise, discovers that he is a part-time werewolf – one who, while in human form, needs to parade around shirtless due to a chronic body-temperature dysfunction for which there’s no cure.
In addition to Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner, New Moon also features the following as assorted humans, vampires, and werewolves: Michael Sheen, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Ashley Greene, Rachelle Lefevre, Jackson Rathbone, Dakota Fanning, Nikki Reed, Billy Burke, Booboo Stewart, Michael Welch, and Anna Kendrick.
In addition to: Christian Serratos, Daniel Cudmore, Jamie Campbell Bower, Christopher Heyerdahl, Cameron Bright, Charlie Bewley, Julia Jones, Gil Birmingham, and Best Supporting Actor Oscar nominee Graham Greene (Dances with Wolves, 1990) – who is no relation to Ashley Greene.
Melissa Rosenberg adapted Stephenie Meyer’s bestseller. Other key credits include cinematography by Javier Aguirresarobe, film editing by Peter Lambert, and music by Alexandre Desplat (though New Moon’s soundtrack is filled with pop tunes).
Eclipse on the horizon
Directed by David Slade from a screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, and bringing back Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, and most of New Moon’s supporting cast members (Bryce Dallas Howard will be replacing Rachelle Lefevre), The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is scheduled to hit theaters in June 2010.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, the fourth and final movie in the franchise, doesn’t have a scheduled release date yet.
“Twilight: New Moon Box Office: Kristen Stewart” endnotes
Unless otherwise noted, “Twilight: New Moon Box Office: Kristen Stewart & Taylor Lautner Pairing Leaves Key Record Unbroken” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about Twilight: New Moon and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) 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 the 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 data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
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.
Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, and Taylor Lautner New Moon images: Summit Entertainment.
“Twilight: New Moon Box Office: Kristen Stewart & Taylor Lautner Pairing Leaves Key Record Unbroken” last updated in October 2022.