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'Twilight' finale has bright, if not blinding, opening

8:49 AM, Nov 19, 2012   |    comments
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THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN-PART 2(Photo: Doane Gregory)

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Bella's swan song was enough to light up the box office this weekend, though the final Twilight couldn't eclipse its predecessors.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, the final installment of the cinematic vampire love story, took a decisive No. 1 at theaters, collecting $141.3 million, according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com.

The debut was a solid one: Twilight scored the fourth-highest debut of the year.

But analysts expected the franchise's fifth film to be its most lucrative, and many projected the movie would beat the record debut of The Twilight Saga: New Moon. That film opened to $143 million in 2009 and would go on to do $297 million.

Ray Subers, analyst for Boxofficemojo.com, says that Twilight's $71.2 million haul on Friday put it in elite company, even if the overall haul met the lower end of expectations.

"An opening day north of $70 million is fantastic, and the fact that three Twilight movies have accomplished this is really remarkable," Subers says. Still, he says, that the series wrap-up didn't set a new record "is slightly disappointing."

Any disappointment could be mitigated by a long run in theaters, and fans responded strongly even if critics didn't.

The film earned a thumbs-up from just 51% of the nation's critics, says survey site Rottentomatoes.com. But a healthy 88% of moviegoers liked it, according to the site. And Twilight earned an "A" from pollsters CinemaScore, which could bode well for the romance through the holidays.

Since the series debuted in 2008, the franchise has racked up more than $1.2 billion in North America and more than $2.7 billion worldwide.

While no other new movie challenged the young bloodsuckers this weekend, the Disney biopic Lincoln expanded to 1,500 theaters this weekend and brought in a solid $21 million and third place. Analysts projected the movie would do about $13 million, and the better-than-expected haul could improve its Oscar hopes.

Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln became "the hottest ticket in town for older adults," says Gitesh Pandya of Boxofficeguru.com.

"Reviews have been terrific and the star power of Steven and Daniel" boosted turnout, says Pandya, who adds the film could have a strong run through the end of the year "if it can sustain the Oscar talk over the weeks ahead and not get drowned out by other hopefuls desperate for attention."

The James Bond film Skyfall took second place with $41.5 million, bringing its 10-day gross to $161.3 million.

The Disney cartoon Wreck-It Ralph was fourth with $18.3 million, followed by Denzel Washington's Flight with $8.6 million.

Final figures are due Monday.

USA Today

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