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"Eclipse" Opening Earns Record $68.5M at the Box Office

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    NEWSLETTERS

    It's about as predictable as Taylor Lautner whipping his shirt off or Kristen Stewart biting her lip. Legions of "Eclipse" fans broke new records for highest ever grossing debut on a Wednesday and midnight screenings with their Twi-exodus on Wednesday, according to Summit Entertainment.

    The film took in $68.5 million in 24 hours, with nearly half of the revenue coming from the late night screenings. The record $30 million midnight haul beat the previous midnight screening record of $26.3 million -- set last November for the release of "New Moon." ("New Moon" still holds the record for all-time best opening ($72 million) but opened on a Friday, which is more crowd-friendly).   

    It's a sure sign that "Eclipse" has only gained momentum heading into the third film in the "Twilight" series.

    Yes, the bandwagon is not just taking off, it's moving out at breakneck speed and looking to beat up on the box office records set by "New Moon."

    "Eclipse" is being helped by favorable reviews (The New York Times called it "more robustly entertaining film than either of its predecessors.") and the widest domestic release in history with 4,416 screens showing the vampire love drama, according to MTV.com. Four thousand of these theaters held midnight screening, with even more holding 3 a.m. screenings to keep up with the demand. That's a lot of people that need an "Eclipse" fix at the expense of sleep on a weeknight.

    Another possible goal -- setting a record for the July 4 weekend. The record is currently set by last year's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" at $200 million. Michael Bay, enjoy the record while it lasts.

    "Eclipse" producer Wyck Godfrey told me this week that he relies on his mother's prayers to help his films keep up their momentum. That woman sure has a pipeline to the movie gods.