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New Moon: Bad reviews but great opening

November 20, 2009 14:27 IST

A scene from New MoonThe Twilight Saga: New Moon could easily dislodge the reigning champion 2012 at the box office worldwide and perhaps earn as much as $200 million over the weekend. This means its estimated production cost of $70 will be more than covered in just three days. But it will not be the only film creating a smash week for Hollywood.

The dark, harrowing and life-affirming story of an African American teenager Precious could further consolidate its box office and Oscar and Golden Globe nomination prospects over the weekend. Last week, it was at the third spot in the North American charts although it was playing in just 200 theatres. It expands to about 620 theatres today. This weekend, it may climb down the charts because of New Moon and the Sandra Bullock-starrer The Blind Side.

Hollywood is betting that New Moon will gross at least $90 million in three days in North America alone, never mind how rotten the reviews are.

New Moon is one of the most anticipated films of the year, based on Stephenie Meyer's international bestseller. It tells the story of star-crossed lovers Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson), who find themselves fighting new obstacles, including a separation, the appearance of werewolves, a threat of revenge from a female vampire and an encounter with a royal family of vampires, the Volturi.

Playing a big role in the film is Taylor Lautner, who has become a heartthrob of million of teen girls worldwide like Patterson.

The film has been directed by Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, American Pie).

A scene from New MoonBoston Herald called the film Bad 'Moon Rising,' and declared fans 'must realise they've been shortchanged by a production company more interested cash flow than making a quality movie.'

Some reviewers complained that Weitz did not invest the film with raw energy.

Constrained by the plot of the novel, the film keeps the two lovers apart for quite a spell, robbing the project of the crazy-in-love energy that made Twilight, the first entry in the series, such a guilty pleasure.

The new films marks the franchise's entrance 'into the self-protective, don't rock the boat phase of its existence, which is inevitable but a bit of a shame,' complained Los Angeles Times.

'In place of Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, a filmmaker of intense, sometimes overwhelming and out of control emotionality who seemed to feel these teenage characters in her bones, New Moon has gone with the more polished Chris Weitz,' the newspaper continued.

The Toronto Star headlined its review calling the film 'sillier, stupider' than the first in the series.

A scene from New Moon'I overlooked, even forgave, the goofiness of Twilight,' wrote Kevin Williamson, 'and accepted it for what it was: A feverish, heartfelt extrapolation of an adolescent girl's internal monologue. Who was I to judge? Besides, flush with newfound cash and confidence, surely the sequel would be an improvement, right?'

'Not so fast, tweeting Twitterers,' he added. 'The Twilight Saga: New Moon may have upped the budget, but it still looks bafflingly cheap. It's also sillier, sloppier and stupider than its predecessor. (Example: one character decides to kill himself because of a misunderstanding over the phone. Yes, his name is Jack Tripper.).'

By Sunday, New Moon's box office stand will become clear, and whether it will carry through the holiday season. The film will come to India on December 4.

Though last week's worldwide phenomenon 2012, which made an awesome $250 million in its first week, is expected to  take a big dive over the weekend (most action films that open big in the first week dive by about 50 percent in the next week), it is still going to be a formidable player.

With the new films pulling in big numbers, and A Christmas Carol continuing to do decent business, Hollywood could have one of the best weeks ever at the worldwide box office.

Arthur J Pais in New York