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Twilight storms to top of US box office with $70m opening

Twilight

Story by Jack Foley

VAMPIRE romance Twilight has stormed to the top of the US box office with a blockbusting $70.6 million debut gross.

The film, directed by Catherine Hardwick from a novel by Stephenie Meyer, was widely tipped to open strong, having emerged as one of the most keenly anticipated films of the winter season.

But the figures were even better than expected and mark a number of firsts for the movie, which should now go on to spawn a franchise.

The $70m-plus figure marks the largest debut ever for a film directed by one woman, comfortably trouncing Mimi Leder’s Deep Impact 10 years ago (which amassed $41.2m).

It’s also the 29th best first-weekend opening of all time, just short of the $70.9 million posted by 300 and just ahead of last summer’s Transformers ($70.5 million).

It’s also the biggest opening yet for fledgling studio Summit, whose previous best bow was Never Back Down in March – although they have two new movies, Sex Drive and Knowing that should also yield strong openings early in 2009.

Twilight‘s opening bow also makes it the fourth biggest premiere of the year in the US, beating last week’s box office champion, Quantum of Solace ($67.5 million), WALL-E ($63.1 million) and Hancock ($62.6 million).

Given its success, Summit have quickly announced that a sequel, entitled New Moon, will now go into production.

The film stars Kristen Stewart as a teenage girl who meets and falls in love with a vampire (Robert Pattinson) after moving to a rainy North American town to live with her father.

Elsewhere at the US box office, last week’s champion, 007 adventure Quantum of Solace, continued to rake it in with a further $27.4 million. In doing so, it became the 20th release this year to cross the $100 millin mark, reaching $109.5 million in the US and a mighty $418 million worldwide to date.

Disney’s latest animated movie Bolt, meanwhile, opened at No. 3 with $27 million – a figure that will be viewed as strong for a non-Pixar release.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa and comedy Role Models completed the top five.