Laura Byrne-Cristiano is a co-owner of The Twilight Lexicon, the longest continuously operating Twilight Saga fansite on the web. You can read her Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn column here on Movies.com every other Thursday.
It’s finally here. Tonight at midnight TwiHards will be lining up to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. With three previous films in the franchise out there, Breaking Dawn has some pretty big expectations and numbers to live up to. So, let’s take a look at fan expectation and the numbers game.
Unquestionably, the single most blogged-about item with regards to Breaking Dawn Part 1 is the honeymoon. For months there has been nonstop discussion among fans about Isle Esme, feathers, and headboards. As soon and the press junket happened, the question of would the honeymoon be sexy enough for fans again came into play. Fans heard Robert Pattinson, Bill Condon, and Kristen Stewart all talk about “toning down the thrusting” to keep the PG-13 rating, while the trailer and teaser clips have all given a glimpse into that night. We’ve seen Pattinson’s muscular back and headboard crash, Stewart’s towel drop on the beach, and the enraptured look on the pillows. Now the big questions are: “Is there more?” and “Do the fans get the payoff they want?” The rewatch factor is going to heavily rely on what the Isle Esme scenes deliver. Fans won’t flock back to theaters again and again if this payoff isn’t huge.
Running a close second in the most blogged-about discussion race is the critical birth scene. This is a tricky one for director Bill Condon. How does he make this visceral without taking the viewer out of the scene in what could be a ridiculous image of C-section by bicuspids? On top of that, how does he again balance the tricky PG-13 line of how much blood is too much blood? Condon has been quoted several times as stating his solution to this dilemma was to show it all from Bella’s point of view, so that the viewer sees only what she sees. It’s an interesting solution. It would seem to give the viewer a perspective of limited glimpses shrouded in pain from the labor from hell. Again the question is, “Will viewers be happy with this limited perspective payoff?” This isn’t really a rewatch do-or-die item, but let’s hope fits of giggles don’t ensue.
Next up is the wedding. This is probably the item that in the end is the easiest to deliver in terms of rating and fan satisfaction. Glimpses of studio-released photos, and the trailer, seem to indicate the fairytale-like setting described in the novel. Additionally it’s hard to go wrong with Robert Pattinson saying “I love you,” coupled with traditional wedding vows. Every viewer lives the fantasy with Bella. Unless the dress is a total horror, unlikely with Carolina Herrera as the designer, this is the easiest scene to deliver. It’s also high on the rewatch factor scale. Fans will come back to theaters to see a fairytale wedding again and again.
Now, aside from the subjective items relating to the wedding, honeymoon, and birth, there is the objective numbers game. In the end, people are going to compare Breaking Dawn Part 1 to its predecessors. Unless Breaking Dawn Part 1 completely falls on its face, it will easily take all records set by the first film in the franchise. In fact, it should easily have the Twilight total within two weeks. The more difficult numbers to match are the ones that were put up by New Moon and Eclipse. Up until the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise, New Moon held the record the top opening and single day grossing film of all time. It now sits in second place in both those categories, and Eclipse sits in third. Speaking of Eclipse, it brought in $300,531,751 in its domestic run. That’s quite a total to live up to. In the history of moviemaking, only 39 movies have managed to crack the $300,000,000 mark. Can Breaking Dawn Part 1 beat the New Moon box office records? Can it beat the Eclipse domestic gross tally? Critics will weigh its success by these numbers more so than fan reaction to the film.
So my fellow TwiHards -- the wait is nearly over. Where will this installment land in Twilight Saga history in terms of fan satisfaction and numbers? We’ll all know next week when the results are in!
Less than 24 hours until The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 hits theaters.