Bella's swan song was enough to light up the box office this weekend, though the final Twilight couldn't eclipse its predecessors.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2, the fifth installment of the vampire love story, decisively took first place at theaters by collecting $141.3 million, according to studio estimates from Hollywood.com. The movie scored the fourth-highest opening of the year.
Analysts had thought the movie would beat the record debut of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, which opened to $143 million in 2009 and went on to make $297 million.
Ray Subers, analyst for Boxoffice mojo.com, says Twilight's $71.2 million haul Friday places it in elite company.
"An opening day north of $70 million is fantastic, and the fact that three Twilight movies have accomplished this is really remarkable," Subers says. Still, he says, the inability of the series wrap-up to set a record "is slightly disappointing."
Any disappointment could be mitigated by a long run in theaters, and fans responded positively to the movie even if many critics didn't.
Though no other new movie challenged the young bloodsuckers, Lincoln expanded to 1,500 theaters and brought in a solid $21 million for third place.
Directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln became "the hottest ticket in town for older adults," says Gitesh Pandya of Boxofficeguru.com.
"Reviews have been terrific, and the star power" boosted turnout, Pandya says. The film could have a strong run, he says, "if it can sustain the Oscar talk and not get drowned out by other hopefuls."
The James Bond film Skyfall took second place this weekend with $41.5 million. That brings its 10-day gross to $161.3 million.
(c) Copyright 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
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