Los Angeles: “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” scored the third-highest opening weekend of all time at the North American box office, earning an estimated $140.7 million during its first three days, its distributor said on Sunday.
The vampire romance sequel vastly exceeded expectations, which had started at $100 million ahead of its release but steadily rose to about $125 million as early sales data rolled in on Friday.
It is well on its way to exceeding the $193 million total of its predecessor, “Twilight,” which was released exactly a year ago.
The record for an opening record is $158 million, set last year by the Batman sequel “The Dark Knight.” The 2007 movie “Spider-Man 3” follows with $151 million. “New Moon” replaced “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” ($136 million) at No. 3.
Summit Entertainment said “New Moon” also set an opening-day record with Friday sales of $72.7 million, surpassing the $67.2 million haul of “The Dark Knight.”
That tally was bolstered by record-breaking midnight sales of $26.3 million. The old mark was set earlier this year by “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” with $22.2 million.
The closely held studio said “New Moon” also earned $118.1 million from 25 foreign markets. Data from individual countries were not immediately available.
Exit-polling data in North America indicated that women accounted for 80% of the audience and half the audience was aged under 21.
“New Moon” revisits the dangerous romance between high school student Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).
After falling in love with each other in “Twilight,” Bella and Edward break up in “New Moon.” Bella finds solace in her friendship with Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), an American Indian who is also a werewolf. Jacob protects Bella from vampires who kill humans but she still longs for the gentle blood-sucker Edward who got away.
All the stars have become sex symbols and regulars in gossip columns and fans lined up to see the sequel days before it opened.
The “Twilight” film franchise is based on a series of four novels of the same name by Stephenie Meyer, which her publisher says have sold 85 million copies worldwide. A third film is due in June.