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Box Office Report: 'New Moon' banks $140.7 million for third-biggest opening weekend ever

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The Twilight Saga: New Moon grossed an astounding $140.7 million at the box office this weekend, exploding most industry expectations en route to the biggest autumn opening weekend in history and the third biggest three-day debut ever, according to early estimates from Hollywood.com Box Office. (The Dark Knight still retains the record for the biggest weekend debut with $158.4 million, and Spider-Man 3 is second with $151.1 million.) The second film in Summit Entertainment’s blockbuster franchise outright doubled Twilight‘s opening weekend of $69.6 million, and it did so almost entirely with a female audience: A whopping 80 percent of New Moon tickets went to women. Theatergoers were evenly split between those under 21-years-old and over, and they were clearly satisfied, giving New Moon a solid “A-” CinemaScore rating. Despite the film’s sharp drop from its record-setting $72.7 million opening dayNew Moon‘s Saturday total was $43.2 million, and it’s estimated to take in $24.8 million on Sunday — it’s abundantly clear that Bella, Edward, and Jacob have plenty to howl about: Worldwide, New Moon raked in $258.8 million.

Vampires and werewolves weren’t the only champions at the box office, either. Sandra Bullock continued her stellar year, with her true-life sports drama The Blind Side clearing an estimated $34.5 million for second place. It’s the best opening gross of Bullock’s career — a record she set just five months ago when The Proposal took in $33.6 million — all the more remarkable considering 59 percent of the audience was women, making this one of the most lopsidedly female-driven weekends in Hollywood history. The Blind Side also tallied a terrific “A+” CinemaScore, which should bolster the film through the rest of the year as a true word-of-mouth hit.

Given this weekend’s massive box-office tsunami, it is actually rather impressive that mega-disaster movie 2012 only dropped 59 percent on its second weekend, taking in $26.5 million for $108.2 million total and third place. The weekend’s real casualty was the animated sci-fi comedy Planet 51, which managed to open at just $12.6 million for fourth place. At fifth, Disney’s A Christmas Carol continued to hold on strong, dropping 45 percent for $12.2 million and $79.8 million total. And Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire pulled in $11 million for sixth place on just 629 screens; after only three weeks of a limited, platform release, the Oscar favorite has grossed a stunning $21.4 million.

Two other limited release debuts had varying success. Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar’s latest film Broken Embraces took in a solid $54,000 per theater in two venues. Meanwhile, in 27 theaters, Nicolas Cage’s critically acclaimed performance lifted Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans to a $9,519 per theater average.

Overall, this November weekend at the box office felt yet again like the height of the summer season: The top ten films raked in $245 million, an insane 59 percent jump from last year (when Twilight was king). In fact, movie theaters have not seen this much business since The Dark Knight thundered into cineplexes in July 2008, and it bears repeating that all those dollar signs this weekend came by far from the purses, pocketbooks, and wallets of women.

Image Credit: Kimberley French