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‘Breaking Dawn’ opening could fetch $140 million

Midnight shows could total more than $30 mil for 'Twilight' pic

Hollywood is bracing for another mad rush of hardcore “Twilight” fans, as Summit rolls out the franchise’s penultimate offering “Breaking Dawn — Part 1” in nationwide midnight screenings Thursday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the film’s approximate midnight count stands at 3,250 locations, before expanding Friday to 4,061.

While B.O. pundits are predicting “Breaking Dawn” could reach $140 million through Sunday, Summit has more modest expectations, ranging between $110 million and $125 million.

“Breaking Dawn” launches day-and-date with the U.S. in 54 overseas markets.

Like the previous “Twilight” offerings, the franchise’s second-to-last pic will see a mostly frontloaded perf by teens and young adults, though Summit prexy of domestic distribution Richie Fay said repeat viewings by femmes could continue to propel grosses.

“Sometimes girls will come out one screening, only to buy a ticket for the next show,” Fay said.

According to online ticketing service Fandango, the film had sold out more than 2,500 showtimes by early this week. The site also reported that 47% of ticket buyers plan to attend the midnight screenings in formal wedding attire.

“Breaking Dawn,” budgeted for a reported $110 million, picks up with human-vampire couple Bella Swan and Edward Cullen as they prepare for their wedding. Summit announced in June 2010 it would split author Stephenie Meyer’s final “Twilight” book into two parts, with “Part 2” set to bow this time next year.

“Part 1” faces a high all-time midnight record ($43.5 million) set this summer by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” It’s hard to say whether “Breaking Dawn” can break that record, since “Deathly Hallows” benefited from a wider demo of kids on vacation. The pic was also the final “Potter” in the series.

Either way, “Breaking Dawn” could one-up its predecessors in midnight grosses.

The franchise’s third offering, “Eclipse,” kickstarted its Stateside run last year with $30 million, while “New Moon” earned $26.3 million from late-night screenings. Much like “Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” “Eclipse” benefited from a summertime berth; the latter pic, which earned $157.6 million in its first six days, also bowed at a record number of locations — 4,408.

“New Moon,” meanwhile, launched this same weekend in 2009 for a three-day total of $142.8 million. That’s a fair opening benchmark for “Breaking Dawn,” according to some pundits.

Fay said group ticket sales for “Breaking Dawn” are just as robust as the previous two “Twilights,” with corporate buyouts (businesses purchasing entire screenings for giveaway purposes) boosting pre-sales for “Breaking Dawn.”

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