Box Office: Twilight Eclipses the Last Airbender

No real surprise here: “Eclipse”, David Slade’s contribution to Summit Entertainment’s juggernaut “Twilight” franchise came in first at the box office over the weekend with $69 million, and $161 million since it opened on Wednesday earlier in the week, according to studio estimates. “Eclipse’s” five-day total of $161 million was impressive, but not close to knocking off the reigning champ, Michael Bay’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”, which raked in $200 million in its first five-days a year ago.

Another film with an equally rabid fanbase (though I don’t recall seeing endless stories about its fans camping out on opening day), M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” opened in second place over the weekend with $40.6 million. The film also debuted earlier in the week on Thursday, giving it a four-day total of $57 million, quaint by comparison to “Eclipse’s” five-day total. The problem for Shyamalan and Paramount is that “Airbender”, besides opening with mostly poor reviews from critics and fans alike, is that it arrives in theaters with a budget that is $100 million more than “Eclipse’s”, so getting trounced by the other film is not a good sign.

Envisioned by writer/director Shyamalan as a trilogy, and written and executed with that in mind, it’s anybody’s guess if the film will make enough in the coming weeks to justify the expenditure of the next two parts. If “Airbender” does fail, hopefully it will provide a lesson to Hollywood: while it’s fine to desire a trilogy, it’s not always wise to make the first movie expecting you’ll be able to do two more. The phrase, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch” comes to mind. Give us at least ONE good film first, then start talking about two more, and not the other way around.

Notables:

In what might be a first, last week’s #1 to #7 all moved down two spots each, but somehow managed to maintain their exact position. “Toy Story 3″ easily held onto the third spot, beating out Adam Sandler’s boy comedy “Grown Ups”.

While those two films continue to perform well, the same can’t be said for Tom Cruise’s “Knight and Day”, which continues to struggle mightily. Now in the fifth spot, the action-comedy took in another measly $10 million, giving it $45.5 million in two weeks of release. That normally wouldn’t be bad for an action movie, but considering the film’s ridiculously (and needlessly) high $117 million dollar budget (honestly, the Koreans or Chinese could have done the exact same movie for $10 million, if not less), “Knight’s” box office showing is proving to be a major disappointment. Cruise better hope that his usually strong foreign box office charms show up when the film begins its overseas marketing campaign.

1 —–The Twilight Saga: Eclipse—– $69,000,000 —–$161,000,000
2 —–The Last Airbender —–$40,650,000 —–$57,000,000
3 —–Toy Story 3 —–$30,174,000 —–$289,000,000
4 —–Grown Ups —–$18,500,000 —–$77,082,000
5 —–Knight & Day —–$10,200,000 —– $45,508,000
6 —–The Karate Kid —–$8,000,000 —–$151,523,000
7 —–The A-Team —–$3,025,000 —–$69,116,000
8 —–Get Him to the Greek —– $1,185,000 —– $57,427,000
9 —–Shrek Forever After —– $799,000 —–$232,182,000
10 —–Cyrus —–$770,000 —– $1,488,000

'Eclipse is out? Sweet! Out of my way, I wanna be first to see it, too!'