"Twilight" sendoff starts with huge $341 million worldwide

Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:20pm EST
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By Andrea Burzynski and Lisa Richwine

(Reuters) - The "Twilight" vampire saga's final chapter debuted with a massive $341 million in global movie ticket sales as devoted fans bid farewell to blood-sucking spouses Bella and Edward and one of Hollywood's biggest franchises.

"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" earned an estimated $141 million in the United States and Canada over the weekend, falling slightly short of a record for the supernatural romance series about a human-vampire-werewolf love triangle.

The total, which includes sales from late night Thursday through Sunday, ranked as the eight biggest domestic film debut of all time. Late-night Thursday screenings comprised $30.4 million of the $141 million total.

Fan fever for the fifth "Twilight" movie raged high around the world. "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" rang up sales of $199.6 million from Thursday to Sunday at theaters in 61 countries for a worldwide total of $341 million, distributor Summit Entertainment said on Sunday.

The earlier "Twilight" films pulled in a combined $2.5 billion at global box offices over a four-year run. The success lifted tiny studio Summit Entertainment into Hollywood's big leagues and paved the way for its $412 million acquisition in January by Lions Gate Entertainment.

"New Moon" scored the biggest debut of the series, grossing $142.8 million over its first three days in 2009.

The movies based on a series of best-selling young adult books by Stephenie Meyer ignited a pop culture infatuation with blood-sucking vampires and werewolves. The films star Kristen Stewart as human-turned-vampire Bella Swan, Robert Pattinson as her vampire love Edward Cullen, and Taylor Lautner as werewolf Jacob Black, who competes for Bella's affection.

Summit spent $120 million to produce "Breaking Dawn - Part 2," which concludes the tale with newly turned vampire Bella and husband Edward in a high-stakes battle to protect their half-human, half-vampire daughter from an ancient vampire clan. The couple enlist the extended Cullen family in their fight.   Continued...

Cast members Robert Pattinson (R), Kristen Stewart (C) and Taylor Lautner pose for pictures before the German premiere of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 in Berlin, November 16, 2012. REUTERS/Thomas Peter