Vampire film likely to open at No. 1

Amid all the hoopla over Summit Entertainment’s “Twilight,” don’t forget Disney 3-D animated “Bolt.”

Both films open today in what’s expected to be another strong sesh for the domestic box office, which so far has been resilient in the face of the economic crisis.

“Twilight” should have no trouble grabbing the weekend.

Final tracking was so strong for “Twilight” Thursday morning that competing studios predicted an opening gross of $50 million to $60 million, and perhaps higher. That’s because it’s not only girls who are expected to show up at theaters; interest has picked up among teen boys, while older women are amassing as well.

Last weekend, B.O. revs were up roughly 45% from the same frame last year on the strength of James Bond installment “Quantum of Solace.” This weekend could also see a dramatic gain over last year between “Twilight,” “Bolt” and “Quantum.”

“Bolt,” going out in 3,651 theaters, is the first toon fully produced by Disney Animation under Pixar guru John Lasseter’s rule .

The last Mouse House animated title was “Meet the Robinsons,” which debuted to $25.1 million in March 2007. Tracking suggests that “Bolt” will beat that number, although there’s still another toon in the marketplace, DreamWorks Animation Paramount’s “Madagascar: Return 2 Africa.”

Depending on how well it holds, “Quantum” could give “Bolt” a run for its money in terms of which movie lands in the No. 2 spot. Bond pic opened to $67.5 million.

“Bolt” marks a milestone in that it will play in 982 digital 3-D screens, the most to date for a 3-D pic. “Journey to the Center of the Earth” opened in roughly 800 theaters over the summer. The additional screens are part of the furious race to convert hundreds of conventional screens to digital 3-D, although the economy is hampering that effort.

“Bolt’s” opening gross will benefit mightily from the additional cost of a 3-D ticket.

Disney isn’t necessarily looking for a big opening, but rather, a strong run through Thanksgiving week and weekend.

Whatever the case, “Bolt” will have to cede the spotlight to “Twilight” in terms of headlines and attention. The teen romance vampire pic, opening in 3,419 has become the event title of the season, even though its core audience is tween and teen girls.

“Twilight,” directed by Catherine Hardwicke and based on the bestselling book series by Stephenie Meyer, cost $37 million to produce.Film arrived at Summit a ready-made franchise, since there are four books in the series.

On the specialty side, Fox Searchlight’s “Slumdog Millionaire” heads into its second sesh after opening to a boffo per-screen average of $36,000, the best of any specialty film this year. The Danny Boyle-directed film expands from 10 to 20 cities. Cume is $573,512.

Miramax’s “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” expands from 38 theaters to 406 theaters in its third sesh with a cume of $942, 253.

New entries include Eros’ “Yuvraaj,” which goes out in 77 runs; Regent’s “I Can’t Think Straight,” opening in three in New York and L.A.; Screen Media’s “Lake City” and Magnolia’s “Special,” each of which opens in one run.

On the foreign front, “Quantum of Solace” will dominate again for the fourth straight session with openings in Australia, South Africa and Spain.

With rivals mostly staying away, international cume for “Solace” hit $267.4 million through Wednesday, when it passed “The World Is Not Enough” at $263.1 million. It will eclipse “Die Another Day” at $271 million today and has enough holding power to break Bond pic foreign record of $430 million set by “Casino Royale” by the end of its run.

Unlike its fevered domestic bow, “Twilight” is opening with more tempered expectations in only four markets — Italy, Mexico, Russia and Sweden — at 1,350 playdates. International prospects may be boosted by the Stateside frenzy over the vampire romancer.

Disney’s opted to wait until next weekend to open “Bolt” outside the United States with a launch in Italy, followed by Spain the following frame.

Warner Bros. is making a significant move this frame by expanding “Body of Lies” into Germany, Italy and Russia. The Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle’s generated moderate returns so far with $21.6 million from 10 markets, led by $5 million in Australia.

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