The Weekend's Winners: Twilight: Eclipse was a fitting title for the third Twilight film: Its $180 million+ haul six days out made the rest of the box office seem like an afterthought.
Moreover, Fox Searchlight's tiny Cyrus renamed the July 4th holiday as Independent’s Day with some fireworks of its own, as we suspected it would: The film exploded by 200% — and not just because it leaped from 17 to 77 screens, either: Despite playing at exponentially fewer venues than its competition, Cyrus still managed to cart away a million bucks and finish in the top ten. (Total so far: $1.7 million.)
The Weekend's Losers: The Last Airbender, M. Night Shyamalan; movie critics everywhere.
In what has to be a critical low-water mark, Nickelodeon’s film received an astonishingly meager eight percent 'Fresh' rating from critical aggregator RottenTomatoes.com. Nonetheless, Paramount proved you can still buy yourself an opening weekend: Having sunk $150 million into making the film and $130 million into selling it around the globe, Airbender managed to open at $70.5 million in five days.
Most of the Airbender audience, no doubt, doesn’t even care that movie critics exist: Exit polling showed an audience that was mostly male (55%), mostly under 25 (55%) and, we're assuming, most Nickelodeon-reared. But what happens now that all the loyalists from the Airbender TV show have tweeted about how bad the film was? Next weekend, expect it to fall, far. Though the film was envisioned as the kick-off a series, this will very likely be the last Airbender.
How it All Went Down: No Sherlock-like sleuthing needed here: Millions of people love Twilight. A new Twilight movie came out. Those millions of people saw it. Q.E.D.
But what's interesting to note is how Eclipse actually might have helped Last Airbender. The third Twilight movie was actually underscreened in major cities like New York and Los Angeles, relative to their populations, which means more sell-outs. And so those people turned away at the movie theater likely checked out Airbender, or Toy Story 3, which crossed the $300 million mark in its third weekend.
In fact, this past weekend was the first time in years that Independence Day box office bested the Memorial Day take, proving that a rising tide does lift all boats - even those vessels you might not normally have planned to book passage in.