"New Moon" Sets Midnight Screening Record

British actor Robert Pattinson has a big grin for fans as the star who plays vampire Edward Cullen walks the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," held at Mann Village and Bruin Theaters in Westwood, Calif., Nov. 16, 2009. If you had a franchise as popular as theirs, you'd be grinning like these stars,too. AP

"The Twilight Saga: New Moon" has set a box-office record for midnight screenings.

Summit Entertainment estimated Friday that it earned $26.3 million after opening early in the morning.

That would topple the previous midnight record, held by "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," which earned $22.2 million this year. "The Dark Knight" from 2008 is third with $18.5 million.

"New Moon" is the second installment of the popular "Twilight" series. It opened at midnight in 3,514 theaters with a per-theater average take of $7,476.

Paul Dergarabedian, a box-office analyst for Hollywood.com, says the midnight start "portends an opening weekend that could be one of the biggest of the year."

Indeed, observes "Early Show" National Correspondent Hattie Kauffman, the movie's expected to earn $100 million in its first three days.

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The "Twilight" flicks are particularly enticing to female fans of pale hearththrob Ed Cullen, played by Rob Pattinson, and his werewolf rival, portrayed by Taylor Lautner. "(The fans are) pretty passionate, for sure," Lautner says.

"New Moon" is a sequel to "Twilight," the vampire flick that grossed $380 million worldwide.

"I think this is going to be epic proportions compared to 'Twilight,' " one fan camped out wakting on line to get into the midnight show said.

The films are based on a series of vampire romance books that readers called addictive, Kauffman says, adding, "Now, it seems the films are, as well."
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