Makes $72.7 million, beating 'Dark Knight'

Summit Entertainment’s “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” tore up the box office record for best opening day, grabbing the title away from Warner Bros. “The Dark Knight,” and earning a spectacular $72.7 million yesterday at 4,024 theaters.

An exceptional feat for a film playing outside the summer frame.

There were an array of estimates being reported on the internet about how high the first day of “New Moon” actually was. This morning’s figure is Summit’s official Friday estimate.

“Dark Knight” had minted $67.2 million from 4,366 runs on July 18, 2008 before making a three-day opening weekend of $158.4 million.

Fueling the Friday B.O. for “New Moon” were midnight shows in 3,514 venues which drew a record-breaking $26.3 million for the time slot.

The opening day for “New Moon” posted more than a 100% gain over the first Friday of “Twilight” which made $36 million a year ago and a three-day weekend of $69.6 million.

For a franchise that has clearly targeted females, “New Moon’s” first day is so exceptional that it’s probable that the film played beyond its core crowd to males. However, Summit plans to release the pic’s moviegoing demos, as well as international results, in its three-day estimate report tomorrow. Ever since the first installment finished its play in theaters, the production of “New Moon” has garnered non-stop headlines on glossy covers and fansites with the media savoring details on the film as well as its cast members Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner.

Capitalizing on those older women who might have been shut out of “New Moon” as well as male football fans who might be sidestepping the vampire pic, Warner Bros. benefitted from its counterprogramming of Sandra Bullock drama “The Blind Side.” With a moviegoer make-up of 59% female and 41% male, the football drama about rookie Baltimore Ravens player Michael Oher posted $10.9 million off 3,110 – the second best ever for a Bullock headliner following her record opening day of “The Proposal” this summer with $12.7 million.

Sony’s Roland Emmerich disaster pic “2012” fell 65% in its second Friday to third with $8.1 million off 3,408. Pic’s domestic cume stands at close to $90 million with a worldwide total north of $313 million. “2012” looks to zip past the $400 million global B.O. mark by tomorrow.

In its third Friday, Lionsgate’s “Precious: Based on the story ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” at play in under 1,000 engagements, continued to draw heavy traffic. “Precious” took fourth with an estimated $3.5 million, repping an uptick of 85% thanks to its expansion from 174 to 629 sites. To date, the domestic B.O. for “Precious” stands at $13.9 million.

Catering to moppets on Thanksgiving break, Sony’s animated entry “Planet 51″ landed in fifth with $3.2 million off 3,035. Featuring the voices of Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long and Gary Oldman, “Planet 51″ touts a comical “E.T.”-in-reverse story whereby a U.S. astronaut lands on an alien planet and urgently needs to get home. Pic is an acquisition from Spanish producers Ilion Animation.

“Disney’s A Christmas Carol” stayed afloat, declining 47% at the onset of its third sesh with $3 million off 3,578 and running B.O. of $70.6 million in sixth place.

Arthouse theater averages continued to be bountiful yesterday with Sony Pictures Classics’ Pedro Almodovar romance drama “Broken Embraces” starring Penelope Cruz earning $16,816 or $34,000 off two Gotham engagements.

Twentieth Century Fox’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox” also minted a hearty per site of $13,103 in its second Friday for $52,000 off four Gotham and Los Angeles playdates. Through eight days, “Mr. Fox” counts a total domestic take of $410,536. The studio is scheduled to up the film’s theater count on Wednesday.

First Look’s “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” grossed $74,000 from 27 for a theater average of $2,740. The crime-drama, starring Nicolas Cage and Eva Mendes and directed by Werner Herzog, is a sequel to the Abel Ferrara graphic cult 1992 pic which made $2 million stateside.

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