"Eclipse" takes $30 million bite from midnight box office

Wed Jun 30, 2010 2:28pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Vampire romance has become hotter -- if you can believe the story.

That seems to be the consensus by U.S. critics for the third episode of teen vampire saga "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse," which debuted on Wednesday to a record-breaking $30 million box office in screenings just after midnight.

North American ticket sales beat predecessor "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" with $26.3 million and are the most for any movie's midnight screenings, according to tracker Hollywood.com Box Office.

Critics said the movie boosted its romantic storyline, but the overall film was not entirely satisfying due to poor acting and execution, according to a consensus of reviews posted Wednesday.

The middle installment of the film franchise -- Stephenie Meyer's four books are being spread out over five films for maximum profit -- was released in U.S. cinemas this week and again features a love triangle between Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner.)

The third film is "more of the same" from the first two movie, said USA Today, noting the physical attributes of the three co-stars are featured heavily in the film franchise that is wildly popular with the coveted teen market.

"This is definitely the most romantic of the films, although some of these scenes are set in flower-filled meadows that bring to mind feminine-hygiene commercials," the newspaper said.

The New York Times said "Eclipse" was "a more robustly entertaining film than either of its predecessors" with added humor, more violence, "and, true to the film's title, a deeper intimation of darkness."   Continued...

<p>U.S. actress Ashley Greene and Australian actor Xavier Samuel pose during a photocall to promote their latest film "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" in Madrid June 28, 2010. REUTERS/Sergio Perez</p>