Girls unloaded $68.5 million from their purses on Wednesday for a chance to see Summit Entertainment’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. As anticipated, domestic records have been broken with the Saga's third installment. Eclipse easily became the highest grossing Wednesday opener ever, but came in second - to its previous sequel New Moon - for the single day record (New Moon had a Friday release, and holds the all-time record with $72.7 million).
In looking at this summer's numbers alone, what’s jaw dropping about Eclipse's box office debut is that it generated more money in a day than any of the top three Memorial Day films did over the entire four-day holiday (Shrek Forever After, Prince of Persia and Sex and the City 2).
Eclipse is playing at 4,416 theaters in North America and it had no problem receiving an A Cinemascore. The film ups its theater count to 4,468 on Friday, becoming the widest release in history, beating both Iron Man 2's opening count of 4,380 and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince's 4,455, which is the widest for a film at any point in its theatrical release.
Many analysts are betting that Eclipse unseats Spider-Man 2 as the biggest box office release spanning a six-day Fourth of July weekend (Spider-Man 2 also opened on June 30th back in 2004). Spider-Man 2 drew over $180 million with its highest grossing day (also a Wednesday) opening at $40.4 million. The film’s second highest day was Saturday, July 3 ($33.7 million) and its lowest was Sunday, July 4 ($21.95 million). It’s conceivable that Eclipse will follow a similar pattern.
Even if Eclipse falls $30 million short of Spider-Man 2, it is not a failure by any means. The film will still have a hearty Independence Day run. And, having made its $68-million budget back in one day, no box office cynic can argue that Eclipse is lackluster.