Summit pic scores over $30 million at midnight bow

Summit’s “Eclipse” kicked off the Fourth of July frame Tuesday night with record-breaking midnight totals, earning more than $30 million at some 4,000 engagements.

The “Twilight” franchise’s third outing, which surpassed predecessor “New Moon” ($26.2 million) for the latenight crown, will expand to 4,437 locations on Friday, the largest count to date. “Eclipse” will go up against the frame’s other wide release, Paramount’s 3D tentpole “The Last Airbender,” which is expected to appeal most to males age 25 and under, at 3,169 engagements.

Most overseas markets launched “Eclipse” day and date on Wednesday, with additional bows today for a total of 42 territories this weekend. Some 12 territories, including Brazil and Mexico, screened “Eclipse” during midnight showings. Par plans to hold the male-targeted “Airbender” in most international markets until the end of July.In anticipation of Tuesday’s U.S. midnight screenings of “Eclipse,” Summit screened the first “Twilight” pics as a double-bill, grossing a hearty $2.4 million at 2,037 locations. “Eclipse’s” latenight take, which includes 3 a.m. Wednesday screenings from some circuits, reps a sizeable start Stateside over the long holiday frame.

Summit said it hopes the perf will transfer throughout the weekend, given that the majority of its core aud of young femmes are on summer vacation.

The same may hold true for the PG-rated “Airbender,” as fanboys are expected lift today’s totals. Pic, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, could also see solid turnouts for 3D engagements as enthusiasm for the format is highest among young males.

Based on the Nickelodeon TV anime serial “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” Par’s live-action version reps Shyamalan’s first foray into the 3D realm. Pic was converted from 2D with the helmer’s stamp of approval. More than half of the film’s total location count this weekend will be in 3D, totaling 1,606 locations.

“Airbender” tells the epic story of a young boy with the power to control the four elements — air, water, earth and fire — that represent his world’s respective warring nations. Newcomer Noah Ringer plays the title warrior meant to bring balance among the tribes; Dev Patel co-stars as the rival Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation.

Both “Airbender” and “Eclipse” are predicted to fuel a boffo holiday weekend at the box office, yet most B.O. observers forecast a Sunday slowdown as moviegoers may be more likely to hang around barbecue pits than movieplexes.

“Eclipse” reps the third offering in author Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling vampire book series, which follows human Bella (Kristen Stewart) and her other-worldly suitors, vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). Pic is the first summer, midweek launch for the franchise, as well as the inaugural “Twilight” film to partner with large-screen exhib Imax.

Imax posted north of $1 million from 192 late night runs, surpassing the $959,000 record set last year by Par’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”

Disney’s 3D toon “Toy Story 3″ reps the frame’s strongest holdover, having cumed a boffo $224 million since its debut June 18. Toon has shown a sturdy midweek presence that could continue into the long weekend. Entering its third frame, the toughest competish for “Toy 3″ could be “Airbender,” which is tracking solidly with family auds.

Last weekend’s wide openers, Sony’s “Grown Ups” and 20th Century Fox’s “Knight and Day,” could tempt adult auds in a frame targeted primarily at younger moviegoers. Both pics have performed well during the week. “Grown Ups” has reached a cume of $50.4 million; “Knight,” $31.7 million.

A trio of love-titled pics bow at the specialty B.O.

UTV’s Bollywood title “I Hate Luv Storys” will launch at 84 U.S. locations. Pic is directed by Punit Malhotra and produced by Karan Johar (“My Name Is Khan”). E1 Entertainment’s Helen Mirren-starrer “Love Ranch,” directed by the thesp’s husband Taylor Hackford, enters the fray at 11 engagements.

Magnolia’s Italian-lingo pic “I Am Love,” toplining Tilda Swinton, expands to 82 locations in its third frame. Pic has grossed a modest $439,451 to date.

Overseas, the young femme-skewing “Eclipse” should manage to avoid much competish with the World Cup soccer tourney, launching this weekend in territories including Brazil, Italy, Russia and Spain before rolling out in the rest of the world throughout July. “Toy 3″ should continue to perform tops with overseas tots, having already cumed $108.7 million as of Monday.

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