Release Date: June 30
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Director: David Slade
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg (based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer)
Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Jackson Rathbone, Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Elizabeth Reaser, Peter Facinelli, Gil Birmingham, Dakota Fanning, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard
Studio Description: As Seattle is ravaged by a string of mysterious killings and a malicious vampire continues her quest for revenge, Bella (Stewart) once again finds herself surrounded by danger. In the midst of it all, she is forced to choose between her love for Edward (Pattinson) and her friendship with Jacob (Lautner) — knowing that her decision has the potential to ignite the ageless struggle between vampire and werewolf. With her graduation quickly approaching, Bella has one more decision to make: life or death.
Analysis: After Twilight, the first entry in The Twilight Saga before the franchise was called “The Twilight Saga,” became a box office sensation in 2008, ultimately grossing $192.8 million, its sequel, New Moon, was dubbed one of the most-anticipated movies of 2009. It did not disappoint, drawing massive crowds out of the gate and finishing the year with nearly $290 million and counting. While the first two movies had pre-Thanksgiving launches, the third, Eclipse, has been aligned with the Independence Day holiday, in part, because the next Harry Potter reclaimed that series’ historical pre-Thanksgiving slot. Eclipse is scheduled for Wednesday, June 30, or only seven months after New Moon.
Odds are that Eclipse won’t reach the heights of New Moon, given the history of closely-timed, serialized sequels. The Matrix Revolutions, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and even Back to the Future Part III all grossed significantly less than their predecessors. When a second movie is hotly-anticipated after the first movie’s success, it’s highly unlikely that the next picture will even maintain the momentum (The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter being notable exceptions), and signs from New Moon‘s run suggest that The Twilight Saga will follow the pattern. New Moon had one of the biggest openings of all time, was extremely front-loaded and probably wasn’t as well-liked as the first Twilight: Box Office Mojo readers gave it a “C+,” compared to the first movie’s “B.” Also, the vampire fad could show fatigue by the summer, given the flood of vampire-themed TV shows, movies and paraphernalia in the market.
However, it would be silly to bet against Eclipse‘s chances at being a big box office draw in its own right. The Twilight brand is so strong right now that even a massive drop-off would mean a near blockbuster run for Eclipse, there are few other offerings this summer that will be as attractive to younger females, and there’s always the possibility that it pulls a Harry Potter in terms of longevity. With no trailer available at publication time, it remains to be seen how Summit will up the ante in its marketing campaign.