Photo 45 Hires
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.

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Nikki FInke also chimes in:

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.

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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.


  1. I don’t even *like* Twilight, and I am deeply amused. It isn’t any worse than Transformers, so I don’t know what the fanboys are whining about.

  2. “What do women want? The same thing men want, but in nicer colors.” –Northern Exposure

    Not too surprising… two teen heartthrobs. A popular novel. (I first noticed this when B&N started hosting “proms” based on the books.) Add that teen girls are media savvy and probably moreso than even the most rabid fanboy, and will follow every bit of gossip.

    This is Titanic. Different story, but same fan reaction. Will the mothers get hooked into it? Quite possibly. I’ll wait and see how the second week looks before making a direct comparison to Titanic.

    Guys… read the novels. Know enough to converse with that cute girl wearing the sparkle fangs. Debate “teams” (I’m Team Spike”) and how they compare to other vampires. If they like dark fantasy, they’ll probably enjoy stuff you like.

  3. This analysis of the “Twilight” phenomenon by English professor James Blasingame seems fairly accurate:

    So what is at the heart (OK, that one was not intentional) of this fascination with vampires?

    To begin with, there is the gothic romance aspect. For years and years, the romantic tale of a young woman who is drawn to a dark, mysterious stranger has been popular around the world and the thirst (Ha! That one was intentional) for these stories appears unquenchable.

    What young woman in her right mind (well, in her daydreams, anyway) would not prefer the impossibly handsome, but possibly dangerous, alleged bad boy who drives through the McDonald’s drive-through on his motorcycle over the definitely nerdy-but-nice, good boy who finishes her shift at said McDonalds with her and asks her to the prom while saturated in vegetable oil? [. . .]

    Edward and the Cullens have power, power over humans, power over society, power over life and death. They just don’t have power over love, and that’s the greatest power of all. If you don’t think so, think back to a time when you were so madly in love with someone it actually kept you awake at night. That’s power.

    Young and old readers love stories in which the protagonist, the character with whom they identify, gains power, and this is another aspect of vampire stories that is undeniable. Vampirism means power although it comes with a great and painful change, a change of physical self, a change of emotional self, and a change of place in the world. If this isn’t a powerful metaphor for passing into and out of adolescence, I don’t know what is.

    Blasingame’s analysis indicates that there’s an audience for romances which focus on passion, the intensity of love and related emotions, as opposed to romantic comedies and more mannered romances which are more realistic but don’t provide the thrill of having power over someone else.

    The fantasy elements make the woman’s lover more powerful and darker than normal men could possibly be.

    As noted in Psychology Today, there’s a downside to getting hooked on such fantasies if the fascination with them delays emotional maturity, but people shouldn’t make insulting assumptions about the self-control of others.


  4. Once again, Hollywood is playing catch up with the audience. Old board room execs hailing from the 1970s who think they’ve got the pulse of today’s generation with outdated marketing methods.

    Anyone with a teenager would have seen this coming a mile off. Doesn’t matter the quality of the film, or even the gender. The teens and even adults were amped for this film.

  5. “sadly the series is unfeminist with it’s traditional ideas about gender. ”

    Perhaps women (and people in general) are sophisticated enough to understand that things they may like in fantasy are not things they want in the real world.

  6. eh, I don’t see the link between Titanic and Twilight. I think the demographics and the story are the same, thank goodness. Twilight seems more for the, as you so put it, ‘fangirls’, not old people intrigued by some piece of history and people in love with Celene Dion and Leonardo. Plus, at least the girls in Twilight are a little more kick-ass and more well rounded characters than the females in Titanic.

  7. Rodney Wall,
    let’s hope so and let’s hope Sarah Palin doesn’t become elected President. I’m not so sure people are sophisticated in general…but let’s hope.

  8. Michael, the bulk of Titanic’s box office was from teenage (and younger) girls who saw it multiple times in the theatre. I remember my boss at the time’s daughter saw it at least 8 times in the theatre…that certainly sounds like fangirl-ish obsession to me.

    And that’s why i think it’s too soon to compare the Twilight phemenon to Titanic. The first Twilight movie created a large number of fans, fans excited enough that they just could not wait and had to see the film opening weekend. But so what? Spider-Man 3 ($151.1M) did bigger domestic box office opening weekend than either Spider-Man 2 ($88.1M) or Spider-Man 1 ($114.8M) did, but a much lower take overall ($336.5M vs. $373.6M for 2 and $403.7M for 1). So just because Twilight created this sizable gotta-see-it-right-now audience for New Moon doesn’t mean that New Moon is going to have the legs of a Titanic or a Dark Knight, or even that it’ll ultimately pull in that much more than the $192 million that the first one did.

  9. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest the box office results were the result of a lot of people wanting to see the movie.

  10. As I see it, Twilight it’s the first cultural hit totally formed from the 21st century (Harry Potter started in 1997, comic books date back from 1930s, LoTR started somewhere in the 60’s), and it’s pretty much a reflex on what our culture represents right now.

    This is what happens when you alieanate the younglings from your niiche.

  11. Franklin…

    In the same way that what men want is Transformers, so people should not listen when men complain about scripted tv dramas?

    Call me crazy, but given that women are over 50% of the population, it is possible to have a sizable audience of us for a variety of things.

  12. I was at the Westwood/LA world premiere yelling at kids to go home and watch True Blood.

    Why would people go out and pay to see this when you be at home and watching practically the same thing on pay per view or On Demand?



  13. Women and girls also have less choices for films (esp. fantasy films) targeted primarily at them, so there’s a lot of pent up demand. Give Hollywood time–they always run towards the money, so expect oversaturation of this “new” market in the coming year!

  14. Torsten adair asked:

    “Will the mothers get hooked into it?”

    The answer is yes. Television interviewers are focusing on Twilight moms.


    Is it wrong to call them T-MILFs?

  15. @Franklin Harris

    But what does Twilight’s portrayal of women have to do with the way women are portrayed in mainstream comics? Are you suggesting that because some girls and women like Twilight, all women should be fine with that as the barometer for what’s acceptable portrayal and treatment of women across all entertainment mediums?

    There is no ONE thing that women like, and to measure all tastes of all women by one thing that a section of women like is pointless and insulting. And the fact that your answer to a woman looking for a better female role model in comics is to say, “it’s your own fault!” is even worse.

  16. Guys… read the novels. Know enough to converse with that cute girl wearing the sparkle fangs. Debate “teams” (I’m Team Spike”) and how they compare to other vampires. If they like dark fantasy, they’ll probably enjoy stuff you like.

    I’m sorry, why would I want to do this? I know plenty of girls who don’t like Twilight. Why would I want to actually make an effort to talk to someone about something I don’t like and find intellectually offensive?

  17. @Jeanine,

    No, what I’m saying is that it’s probably unrealistic to expect superhero comics to portray women in a better manner than does something else (e.g., Twilight) that is able to actually command a large number of women readers — readers who have, with their money, spoken rather loudly about what they want.

    That’s reality, whether you like it or not.

  18. @Franklin Harris: I see someone has forgotten how popular Rob Liefeld was.

    Something that is utter shit can still be able to command an immense audience. Does that mean everyone should just give up and stay at that baseline level of crap? HELL NO.

    Besides, I can name at least 10 comic book creators who portray women better than Twilight does. So NO, I’m not going to throw up my hands, give up, and quit demanding that the rest of them meet that same standard just because Twilight is popular.

  19. I don’t see this as fanboys vs fangirls. I know some fangirls who haaaate Twilight and think, just as I do, that Twilight ruins vampies. Plus, not all fanboys like the same thing. For example I can’t stand Bay’s Transformers films despite being tops in the male demographics. I don’t dislike Twilight because girls like it. I dislike it because I think it’s simply awful. Of course I also think it’s a horrible series for girls. Give me Gaiman Sandman, Supernatural or even Anne Rice fans instead any day.

  20. Franklin:

    I got news for you, bub. Girls like crap. And guys like crap. I’ll raise you a TRANSFORMERS and a GI JOE and anything else by Stephen Somers. Or Brett Ratner.

    TWILIGHT is a phenomenon as way DARK KNIGHT and those in the entertainment business would do well to see what made each succeed. As mentioned several times, I have NOT seen or read TWILIGHT — although I’m firing up the old Netflix — and what I’ve read about its message of “traditional roles” and abstinence sounds pretty annoying. So I will refrain from any textual analysis.

    However, I will quote a tweet from our own Pulphope earlier today:

    “New Moon is this generation’s Vampire Lestat+Abelard&Heloise I’m more into the meaning/significance of Frankenstein’s monster.”

    In short: teenaged girls have always loved troubled romance with a Byronic figure. You could look it up. And boys like explosions and Power Girl.

    Believe it or not, I don’t have any problem with fantasies that appeal to one gender or another. it’s when people don’t ACKNOWLEDGE that this is a fantasy for one gender or another — and ascribe universal appeal to what is a targeted demo — that I get annoyed.

  21. Are we close to the last word on this thread? Can I have it? Man, there was a day when TWILIGHT was a DC miniseries by Howard Chaykin and the awesome Jose Luis Garcia Lopez that updated Tommy Tomorrow and the Star Rovers.

  22. I love how ignorant people can be about fandom. It’s like they’ll make a zillion dollars off of Star Trek and Harry Potter (both of which have MASSIVE feminine fanbases who drive the purchasing of tie-in product stuff) but the minute the movie is about teen girls in love, fandom money suddenly gets contaminated with the XX and it’s all a mystery.

  23. I don’t think its cooties, but rather VAGINAS. People need to realize, though, that their longboxes are safe from that terrible, terrible menace.


  24. Tom, are you discriminating against shortboxes? Some are just made that way, you know. And you can have just as much fun with them as longboxes!

    @Tori: Amen. After all, women saved Spock from the cutting room floor during TOS. And I can’t name a single guy I know who loves HP more than any of the girls/women I know.

    But no girls saw LotR, Batman, or Iron Man of course 9_9

  25. I remember the days when Twilight was just a title of a ELO song.

    It was the opening track on the “Time” album.

    I don’t think that Jeff Lynne envisioned vampires and werewolves thirty years on…

    Just saying…



  26. I thought Vaginas were the reason boys would put up with having to see Twilight with their girlfriends.

    There seems to be a lot of moms or middle aged ladies in that giant Twilight line at San Diego this year. So, I”m guessing it wasn’t just teenage girls who generated that box office. There were a number of young ladies in my office who had bought tickets to the midnight screening Friday night and had to be at work at 0600 the next day.

    And, I love Chaykin and JLGL but loathed the Twilight mini-series when it came out at the time. It just seemed like another one of those late 80s deconstructionist things designed to “gritty up” shiny happy Silver Age characters.

  27. I’m not the target demographic, but I’m gay enough to kinda understand the appeal of Twilight to female audiences. I rented the first movie, and I’ll go see the second one later this week, in part to stick my tongue out at the misogynist fantrolls who think it ruined Comicon (but never objected to Transformers or Lost or any other TV/movie phenom making its presence felt there). But also because the first movie was an entertaining bit of fluff. (And mostly because wolfboy is really hot.)

    Twilight is NOT difficult to understand, or how it appeals to women and girls. It’s a fantasy version of Adolescence. I practically wrote the book report for it in my head while the DVD was playing, comparing Edward’s blood lust with regular teenage lust, how Bella as the only girl that Edward can’t read makes her more attractive to him in a way that girls want to feel “special”, Bella seeing Edward as a replacement for her predictable and dull father, etc. I can already see how the Jacob stuff is going to play out, with the cute pup that Bella liked as a kid transforming into a hairy beast that she is also drawn to. I mean… are straight men really clueless about all this?

  28. I’ve not seen either movie, but I think Jason A. Quest pretty much nails it. And the appeal of Buffy was high school students dealing with becoming adults. And the appeal of Harry Potter to so many young people is that it touches on universal feelings of belonging together in a strange world.

  29. OK, either I’m being too obscure or my point is too obscure. Anyway, my point is not that males don’t like a lot of crap. And my point isn’t that the live-action “Transformers” and “G.I. Joe” movies aren’t crap; they are.

    The crap males like isn’t relevant because no one complains that male sex roles in the crap men like are demeaning. (OK, someone probably does, but let’s pretend that’s not the case, for argument’s sake.)

    Meanwhile, a lot of women (by no means all, obviously) like popular entertainment in spite of and possibly because of the gender roles of the women in those works — even if some of us deem those roles demeaning (e.g., in “Twilight”).

    So, I don’t think it’s demeaning portrayals of women in superhero comics that are really chasing women readers away from superhero comics.

    Maybe those portrayals annoy you, but then you’re also probably not reading “Twilight.” This isn’t about you; this is about an apparently large audience of women readers who seem to have no problem with demeaning gender stereotypes.

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