Box office preview: Will 'Breaking Dawn -- Part 2' be the biggest 'Twilight' yet?

BREAKING-DAWN---PART-2

Image Credit: Andrew Cooper

The final installment of the franchise that changed the face of pop culture — remember those days when no one knew that YA meant “young adult” and vampires were only popular on Halloween? — is set to reach incredible heights at the box office at this weekend.

Just as Skyfall became the highest-opening Bond film last weekend, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 will likely become the highest grossing of all the Twilight films. In their first three days, the last three Twilight films (New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn – Part 1) have earned $142.8 million, $120.9 million, and $138.1 million, respectively — very consistent figures (especially for New Moon and Part 1, each of which, like Part 2, opened on the weekend before Thanksgiving). While the Twilight movies aren’t recruiting any new fans these days, pent-up excitement for the finale from super-fans will likely push Part 2 a bit higher than its predecessors.

The $120 million production was guaranteed to garner major headlines no matter what. But the tenuous state of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart’s relationship — which was thrown into question following her affair with Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders — has given the movie a whole new level of publicity, which should help it at the box office. Reviews for the film are the strongest ever for a Twilight film (though, that’s not saying much), but they won’t convince the uninitiated. Importantly, though, they may convince diehard fans to engage in repeat viewings. At this point, it’s pretty well clear how Twilight films will fare — the last three pictures have earned $705.1 million, $698.5 million, and $709.8 million worldwide — and this should finish just slightly higher, since it’s the grand finale. Out in 4,070 theaters, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 could gross about $148 million over the weekend.

The weekend’s other new wide release, Lincoln, isn’t actually new — it’s expanding from 11 theaters into 1,500 locations — but for most audiences, it’s the first chance to catch the buzzy Oscar contender in their hometowns. DreamWorks’ $65 million production has earned decisively positive reviews and incredible buzz, especially for Daniel Day-Lewis’ portrayal of Honest Abe, and that goodwill should attract older audiences into theaters. They certainly showed up last week, when Lincoln garnered an $85,846 per theater average. Still, without a flashy, modern setting or mainstream premise (most moviegoers tend to avoid politics at all costs), it’s unlikely that Lincoln will score Twilight-size numbers right away. It will need to rely on word-of-mouth (and a likely truckload of awards) to carry it to carry it to profitability, but this is just the kind of film that can quietly rack up impressive box office totals when no one is paying attention. Expect Lincoln to emancipate about $16 million worth of tickets from people’s wallets this weekend and stick around forquite a while.

Among holdovers, Skyfall will unsurprisingly perform the best. After its massive opening weekend, the film shouldn’t lose much of its core male audience to Twilight, and thanks to terrific reviews and an “A” CinemaScore, Skyfall may dip by just 45 percent to $48 million, which would its total to about $170 million. That would be the highest domestic gross ever for a Bond film in only 10 days. Wow. Wreck-It Ralph will also do well. The animation gets to enjoy another weekend with no new family competition, so it may drop by a scant 35 percent to $21 million. Denzel Washington’s Flight should round out the Top 5 with just under $10 million.

1. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 – $148 million
2. Skyfall – $48 million
3. Wreck-It Ralph – $21 million
4. Lincoln – $16 million
5. Flight – $9.5 million

Check back to EW all weekend long to find out how high Twilight and Lincoln actually climb. Also, follow me on Twitter for more box office musing and up-to-the-minute results!

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