Latest instalment in 'Twilight' franchise scores series best

“Twilight” fans nationwide turned out in droves Thursday night for the franchise’s latest offering, “Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” shelling out a series-best $30.3 million in midnight grosses.

Summit’s penultimate “Twilight” installment, at 3,521 late-night U.S. engagements, narrowly beat its predecessor “Eclipse,” which tallied $30 million last year at midnight screenings.

Late-night take bodes well for the newest “Twilight” pic’s weekend perf, as it looks to tally somewhere between $140 million and $150 million, according to the most optimistic pre-weekend tracking services. Though “Eclipse” bowed midweek last summer — a heightened play period for teen and tween auds — to nearly $158 million in its first six days, 2009’s “New Moon” tallied $26.3 million in midnights and went on to gross $143 million opening weekend (the same weekend as “Breaking Dawn”).

Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″ still holds the all-time record for midnight grosses at $43.5 million.

“Breaking Dawn” expands today to a total 4,061 Stateside locations, with an additional 54 overseas territories bowing the pic day-and-date this weekend via local distribs.

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