'Dawn' breaks in $283.5M

Actor Robert Pattinson, right, poses with fans Friday in Berlin. His new film, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1,” posted the franchise’s second-best debut weekend.

Markus Schreiber

LOS ANGELES -- "The Twilight Saga" staked out another huge opening with a $139.5 million first weekend domestically and a worldwide launch of $283.5 million.

The domestic total gives "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1" the second-best debut weekend for the franchise, after the $142.8 million launch for 2009's "The Twilight Saga: New Moon."

"Breaking Dawn" did more than half its business, $72 million, on opening day Friday, while the movie's debut weekend was the fifth-best on record. Opening in 54 overseas markets, "Breaking Dawn" pulled in $144 million internationally, according to studio estimates Sunday.

But the Warner Bros. dancing penguin sequel "Happy Feet 2" stumbled in its debut, pulling in just $22 million over opening weekend. That's barely half what the first film in the animated franchise earned in its 2006 opening.

The previous No. 1 movie, the action tale "Immortals," fell to third place with $12.3 million, raising its domestic haul to $53 million.

George Clooney had a great start with Fox Searchlight's comic drama "The Descendants," which broke into the top 10 despite playing in just a handful of theaters. "The Descendants" finished at No. 10 with $1.2 million in 29 theaters, averaging a whopping $42,150 a cinema. That compares to an average of $34,351 in 4,061 theaters for "Breaking Dawn."

In an industry whose main audience is young males, "Twilight" is a rare blockbuster franchise driven by female viewers.

"Breaking Dawn" has brooding teen Bella (Kristen Stewart) marrying vampire lover Edward (Robert Pattinson), whose family strikes an uneasy alliance with jealous werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) to protect the bride and the baby she's carrying.

The movie's big start points to even better business for next year's "Breaking Dawn -- Part 2," the finale in the five-film series based on Stephenie Meyer's best-selling novels.