'Twilight' Poised to Thrive in Tough Times

But will "Twilight" best "Madagascar 2" and "Quantum" at the box office? BoxOfficeGuru chief Pandya, for one, is optimistic. "'Twilight' has become a huge event movie for teenage girls and young women and has the potential to reach beyond that audience too," said Pandya. "Advance tickets are selling better than the new James Bond film and I'm expecting a huge opening next weekend."


The fact that the film's soundtrack topped the Billboard record sales chart with $165,000 in its first week also proves promising for the film's success.

"It's not that unusual for a movie soundtrack to be No. 1," said Blender magazine editor in chief Joe Levy. "What is unusual is for a soundtrack to open at No. 1 two weeks before the movie even comes out."

"Usually people hear the music when they watch the film, then go buy a soundtrack because they like a song or two. Here, the super-eager fans bought the soundtrack because of the brand. They've already gotten their tickets, they've already gotten their T-shirts? What's left? The soundtrack," he said.

Surprise Box Office Hits

He also cites the inclusion of Paramore, a chart-topping teen band, as driving soundtrack sales.

"Kids can't get enough of 'Twilight,' and if you pair that with a few bands they already love, like Paramore, you're going to sell records," said Levy. "And when the movie comes out, it will lead fans to the music again, which will again push the album sales."

Still, Gray points out that the economic downturn won't drive audiences to theaters. "The movies have to be compelling," he said, noting that 2002 -- the biggest box office year to date -- saw the release of blockbusters like "Spider-Man," "Lord of the Rings" and "Harry Potter." "Movies live or die on their own merit. It's not just how the economy's doing."

BoxOfficeMojo's Gray notes that the holiday lineup took a big loss when Warner Bros. moved "Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince" from its Nov. 21 release date to July 17, 2009.

"That's a $300 million chunk that's missing from that pie," said Gray. "There's no big event film, no 'Lord of the Rings' or 'Narnia' to make up for it this Thanksgiving or Christmas."

But Steve Zeitchik, a senior writer at the Hollywood Reporter, suggests there may still be some surprise hits in the lineup post-"Twilight," with films from big names like Will Smith, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston opening around Christmas. "December has some pretty strong openers, with Will Smith and Jim Carrey movies due," said Zeitchick. "And sometimes a prestige film might just pop."

He cites Danny Boyle's layered, swirling indie "Slumdog Millionaire," which is already garnering Oscar buzz, as well as Pitt's "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

"Never discount the power of word-of-mouth," said Zeitchik. "'Slumdog' has tremendous appeal, and it will grow because people will be talking about it."

"And 'Button,' it's a quirkier film for Brad, for sure," said Zeitchik, "but I think a lot of people will go check it out, along with the David Fincher fans. And the concept is very charming."

From Books to Movies

Still, "Twilight" will be the one to watch, box office-wise. "It's so remarkably resonant amongst its audience," said Zeitchik, "and that can definitely radiate outward. It's not just a book, it's not just a movie, it's really a phenomenon, and all the elements will continue to play off each other."

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