Summer box office looks for sunlight after "Eclipse"

Tue Jun 29, 2010 6:43pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hollywood hopes the sleepy summer box office gets jolted awake by vampire film "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" when it debuts on Wednesday, ahead of what some experts believe will be a $175 million-plus opening over five days.

"Eclipse," about a romance between a teen and a vampire, will open in more than 4,400 U.S. and Canada theaters, a record number of venues and one that almost guarantees a blockbuster.

Overall U.S. and Canadian ticket sales are down 8 percent for the summer season to $1.88 billion from $2.04 billion in 2009, according to tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Co, as recent films such as "Killers," "The A-Team" and "Knight and Day" have posted less than stellar returns.

"It's been kind of a bummer summer, but thank goodness for films like the 'Karate Kid,' 'Toy Story 3' and now 'Eclipse' because it just takes a couple of films to turn things around," said Paul Dergarabedian, head of Box Office.

Summit Entertainment, the studio behind "Eclipse," said it expects the movie will make $150 million in the U.S. and Canada over six days from Wednesday through the Independence Day weekend in the U.S., which ends on Monday, a public holiday.

But that figure is seen as a conservative estimate by some box office analysts, who say the film, which cost $68 million to produce, could make closer to $175 million from Wednesday through Sunday, not even including Monday.

Dergarabedian said "Eclipse" could even earn up to $190 million over the five days. The biggest five-day opening ever for a Wednesday opening is last year's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" with $200 million.

"SORCERER'S" AND "SALT"   Continued...