The Twilight Saga: New Moon sank its teeth into box-office analysts who had predicted that the movie would earn $70-90 million over the weekend. A few had wildly predicted that it would cross the $100-million mark. In the end, it did so easily and flew off with an estimated $140.7 million, the most any movie had ever earned over a three-day weekend with the exception of The Dark Knightand Spider-Man 3(both released during the lucrative summertime period.) The Los Angeles Timescalled the figure "mind-bending." But even employees of Summit Entertainment, which produced the movie, were surprised. Distribution chief Richie Fay told Us Weekly: "I dare say in all the office pools, I don't think anyone had near this top gross." (In fact, the total could go higher. For unexplained reasons, Summit appeared to lowball its estimate for Sunday. The $140.7 million figure was based on actual results for Friday and Saturday and an educated guess as to how the film would perform on Sunday). The result challenged conventional wisdom in Hollywood that teenage boys control the box office. New Moon's audience was overwhelmingly female, and more than half were adults. Overseas, New Moongrossed $118.1 million, bringing its worldwide total to about $258 million. Also performing far above expectations was the sports drama The Blind Side, which earned $34.5 million in its opening. And, as it expanded to 629 theaters, Preciousgrossed more than $11 million, an astounding average of $17,500 per screen. But the animated Planet 51disappointed with a fourth-place $12.6-million opening.

{@@@[email protected]@@}{@@@[email protected]@@}The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:

1. The Twilight Saga: New Moon,$140.7 million; 2. The Blind Side,$34.5 million; 3. 2012, $26.5 million; 4. Planet 51, $12.6 million; 5. Disney's A Christmas Carol, $12.2 million; 6. Precious, $11 million; 7. The Men Who Stare at Goats, $2.8 million; 8. Couples Retreat, $2 million; 9. The Fourth Kind, $1.7 million; 10. Law Abiding Citizen, $1.6 million.


Debuting in 27 theaters, Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleanstook in a so-so $257,000, or an average $9,500 per theater. The film received mostly solid notices -- particularly for its star, Nicolas Cage. "He's a fearless actor," wrote Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times. "He doesn't care if you think he goes over the top. If a film calls for it, he will crawl to the top hand over hand with bleeding fingernails." In her assessment, Claudia Puig of USA Todaywrote, "It's a maniacal performance, complete with mad gales of laughter and insane bouts of temper. Cage doesn't go over the top, but he teeters darn close." Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribuneobserved that the film presents Cage "at his finest." A.O. Scott in the New York Timescommented that Cage's performance "requires adjectives as yet uncoined, typed with both the caps-lock key and the italics button engaged." As for the film itself, Scott said that it "is no masterpiece, but it is undoubtedly the work of a master," In this case, the veteran director Werner Herzog. Rick Groen in the Toronto Globe and Mailwrote that Herzog gives his audience "quite the ride -- wild and weird and blackly comic." In related news, it was announced today (Monday) that Herzog will preside as head of the jury at next year's Berlin Film Festival.


Walt Disney Co.'s new movie chairman, Rich Ross, plans to create "a new business model" for the studio by scaling back traditional TV and print ads during the two-week period before a film's opening, emphasizing promotions on social networks and other websites, and making DVDs available for home viewing soon after their theatrical release ends, the Los Angeles Timesreported today (Monday), citing unnamed sources. His reported plans are generally receiving a warm reception. Sam Gores, chairman of the Paradigm talent agency, told the Times: "Any of us that are sitting around protecting old business models unfortunately are destined to have a hard time succeeding in the coming years."


Production was halted today (Monday) on the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz movie Knight and Dayin Cadiz, Spain after seven bulls that were to used in a scene depicting Pamplona's Running of the Bulls escaped from their confines and rampaged through the town. Two women were slightly injured. "Nothing will be filmed in Cadiz until we have a new plan that guarantees the safety of local residents," a spokesman for the mayor of Cadiz told the Diario de Cadiz newspaper. The film's director, José Luis Escolár, said he did not know how the bulls escaped.


Disney is planning to film a Chinese version of its hit High School Musicalin Shanghai this year after receiving an OK to do so from the Chinese government. The Associated Press reported that by producing the film with two Chinese film companies, Disney will be able to bypass China's restriction allowing only 20 foreign films to be shown in the country each year. The wire service called the choice of Chen Shizheng to direct the movie "unusual," given the fact that he is principally known as a stage director.