‘New Moon’ rises over weekend B.O.

Vampire sequel looks to take big bite out of competish

Thanks to Summit Entertainment’s sequel “New Moon” and a crop of other films, the weekend is likely to bring record revenues at the domestic B.O., according to box office observers.

Without a doubt, “New Moon” will be a monster. It’s already gotten off to a boffo start at the international B.O., where it opened Wednesday in France to $4.4 million ­ — nearly four times the $1.2 million earned there on the first day by “Twilight.”

“New Moon” may be sucking up nearly all the oxygen, but there’s notable business to be had by other titles.

Domestically, Warner Bros. is seeing strong tracking for Sandra Bullock-Quinton Aaron football drama “The Blind Side” among older women, and male football fans of all ages. Film, which tells the story of rookie Baltimore Ravens player Michael Oher, opens in 3,110 theaters.

Going after tots is Sony’s toon “Planet 51,” which the studio acquired from Spanish producers Ilion Animation. It goes out in 3,035 theaters.

Sony holdover “2012,” the disaster pic from Roland Emmerich, should continue to rack up significant grosses, after opening to $65.2 million last weekend. “Blind Side” and “2012” could help make up for a possible soft opening from “Planet 51,” which has only so-so tracking.

On the specialty side, Lionsgate’s “Precious” expands into 629 theaters after grossing $8.7 million from just 174 locations last week.

The best pre-Thanksgiving weekend at the domestic B.O. was in 2005, when ticket sales reached $180.7 million. Pics at the time included “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” which opened to $102.6 million, while 20th Century Fox’s “Walk the Line” debuted to $22.3 million. “Chicken Little,” in its third frame, grossed $14.7 million.

Between “New Moon,” the new titles and holdovers, ticket sales should easily eclipse the 2005 figure, according to distribs.

The big question is how high “New Moon” will go. A year ago, “Twilight” opened to $69.7 million, and nearly all expect the sequel to do significantly more, based on the frenzy surrounding franchise from girls and women.

“New Moon” opened in 3,514 theaters at 12:01 a.m. today, and expands into a total of 4,024 runs. Film is the all-time top pre-seller on both Fandango and MovieTickets.com.

The record-holder for best opening day is “The Dark Knight,” which grossed $67.2 million opening on a Wednesday in 2008. “Twilight” snagged $36 million on its first day.

Chance for expansion is even greater overseas. In addition to France, “New Moon” saw big business bowing in Spain and Italy on Wednesday. Pic grossed $2.7 million at 625 in Italy, and $2.2 million from 652 in Spain.

Over the course of Thursday and today, “New Moon” goes into an additional 12 foreign territories, where it is being handled by local distribs. Summit owns worldwide rights.

“Blind Side” could prove a smart counter-programming move, luring girls and women who faced sold-out “New Moon” screenings. Film tells the story of a homeless African-American teenager (Aaron) who was adopted by Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) and her husband, Sean (Tim McGraw), and encouraged to play high school football, eventually being recruited by the University of Mississippi. This spring, he was drafted by the Ravens. Pic is based on the book by Michael Lewis.

In addition to the “Precious” expansion, other specialty action includes the debut of Werner Herzog’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans,” toplining Nicolas Cage. First Look opens the film in 27 theaters in New York and Los Angeles.

Sony Pictures Classics starts a slow rollout of Pedro Almodovar’s “Broken Embraces” in one New York theater.

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