Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just How High Will New Moon Rise?

Twilight was huge. New Moon will be huger.

Um, won't it?

Sure, go ahead, and call it now. You won't be disappointed. (Unless you were seriously expecting Teams Edward and Jacob to sink Titanic.)

Projections have New Moon, rising in theaters midnight Friday—following the one-night-only theatrical return of Twilight—grossing anywhere in the Forks, Wash., neighborhood of $80 million to $100 million by the close of Sunday, and maybe $200 million-plus when all is said and done and swooned over.

On either the high or "low" end, the presumed opening-weekend take would put the sequel in elite company, and leave the franchise with nothing to fear—except perhaps its own hot, media-dominating self.

So far this year, only two movies have notched $80 million-plus debuts: X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which kicked off the summer season with $85.1 million in May, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which topped $108 million in June.

If New Moon joins the club, it'll get there on the strength of its Twi-hards' collective devotion (and willingness to buy advance tickets in record numbers), and not necessarily its budget: The Summit Entertainment production cost a blockbuster-cheap $50 million versus Wolverine's $150 million tab and Revenge of the Fallen's $200 million pricey price tag.

"Personally, I think anything over $70 million [opening weekend] would be a good achievement for Summit," said The Numbers' Bruce Nash.

And while bottom line-wise Nash is correct, this is where the franchise's own hot, media-dominating self may get in the way.

"I think we are looking at $100 million, and honestly, it'll be a bit of a disappointment if it doesn't since it is following in the footsteps of Twilight's $69 million," Exhibitor Relations' Jeff Bock said, referencing the original 2008 film's sit-up-and-take-notice debut.

Nash probably wouldn't disagree. "I do think that there's a danger of setting expectations too high with a release like this," he said. "The main concern for fans should be that Summit continue to invest in the movies so that all the books are eventually filmed."

Actually, given the reports of thousands upon thousands of sold-out screenings, the main concern for fans may be getting tickets.