Fangirls now have bragging rights over fanboys, as TWILIGHT: NEW MOON shattered the opening day box office record — previously held by THE DARK KNIGHT — with $72.7 million. It also set a midnight showing record with $26.3 million. The weekend take of $135.6 milliion was the third biggest ever — behind DARK KNIGHT and SPIDER-MAN 3 — and the biggest November opening ever.
These stunning numbers have left Hollywood dazed and confused — how could a movie with an audience that is 80 percent female beat out “four quadrant” movies like Dark Knight and so on? Inconceivable! Variety has beaucoup analysis:
Heading into the weekend, rival studios believed “New Moon” would have trouble going north of $110 million, since it is driven by only two out of four quadrants of the moviegoing audience: Females under 25, and those over. Even Summit execs might have agreed.
But the ferocious appetite for the franchise among girls and younger women proved those predictions wrong. Of the females turning out, a full 50% were under 21.
“This blew away a lot of preconceived notions about who you should play to, and how you get to a certain group,” Summit prexy of distribution Richie Fay said.
Despite Friday’s huge numbers, “New Moon” declined only about 41% on Saturday, the same drop “Twilight” had sen. That indicates that the fanbase has grown, since “New Moon” did so much more for the weekend.
Hollywood was stunned as night after night the New Moon numbers kept breaking even four-quadrant Dark Knight and Harry Potter film records. Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight Saga” novels — New Moon is the second in the series — are now proving as much of a phenomenon as comic books and J.K. Rowling for source material at the box office. And two-quadrant New Moon also has shown that when female audiences support a film, it can absolutely dominate box office.
Our own take? Maybe — and this will come as a HUGE, HUGE SHOCK — Hollywood execs do not know What Women Want. Once you hit the magic formula — and something about TWILIGHT is indeed magic and not to be replicated — the dedication of girls and women to the objects of their obsession will make male fan allegiance look positively tepid. There are reams of books to be written about the Twilight phenomenon and how today’s pop culture establishment has reacted to a female-driven fanbase, if you are into social psychology. At least half the mainstream media stories about Twilight are pitched as “We’re as puzzled by this as you are folks.” (With, say, Star Trek, it was more — hey this is cool!”) And as I’ve written before, the outright hostility of the general “fan nerd” culture towards Twilighters speaks volumes. No group of fans has ever been singled out for outright rejection at San Diego, for instance. It’s a discomfort that springs from the very core of Otherness.
The bottom line, as we see it, is that understanding what girls want is so far outside the skill set and comfort zone of your average Entertainment Exec that it actually scares them. For the few people who do realize that a teen-aged girl’s dollar is jut as good as a man’s dollar (and just as easily manipulated) — well, they are laughing all the way to the bank.
And what do girls want? I haven’t seen TWILIGHT or read the books (I’ve never been that into vampires) but it isn’t just shirtless boys, although I’m sure that doesn’t hurt. It’s intensity, drama, romance, heartache — draw a line from TITANIC to TWILIGHT and you’ll begin to get the drift.
Finally, we’ll leave you with the one essential takeaway, courtesy of Colleen Doran: Edward Cullen panties.