Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart in "New Moon"
Photo: Summit Entertainment
Oct 16 2009 3:41 PM EDT
By Larry Carroll
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With "New Moon" about to rise in theaters nationwide, the state of Twilight Nation is entering a crucial transition period filled with questions: What percentage of the fanbase is still made up of old-school Stephenie Meyer fans? Is there faith in new director Chris Weitz? And can the sequel make more money in its opening weekend than last year's surprise blockbuster?
As Twilighters have flooded MovieFone.com, MovieTickets.com and Fandango.com to buy advance tickets for the first showings of the November 20 film, they've been leaving information about their constantly evolving thoughts on the franchise. Upon closer examination, they provide an illuminating snapshot into Twilight Nation — as if Edward himself had read their minds.
"Obviously, 'Twilight' had a huge following of book readers before the first movie was released," said Harry Medved, a spokesperson for Fandango, sharing the results of the movie-ticketing site's online survey exclusively with MTV News. "But these results might indicate that the first movie broadened the 'Twilight' following and expanded its audience — and that many moviegoers started reading the books after seeing the movie."
Indeed, the statistics indicate that that out of 2,500 recent "New Moon" ticket-buyers surveyed, an astounding 96 percent had read the novel — and 94 percent had read the entire series. But the tale gets even more interesting when you realize that 68 percent of the ticket-buyers weren't aware of the "Twilight" franchise until the first film was released in November 2008. So, in essence, only 32 percent of the fans who have bought "New Moon" tickets have been "Twilight" fans for longer than 12 months.
The next question on the survey (which would pop up after a fan purchased a "New Moon" ticket on Fandango) revolved around series newcomer Chris Weitz, who initially faced harsh criticism from the fanbase when he was chosen to replace "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke. Asked if they had faith the "Golden Compass" filmmaker would do a good job with "New Moon," 95 percent of Twilighters answered positively.
"This is a real turnaround story for Chris Weitz," Medved marveled. "Some avid 'Twilight' fans were skeptical when a man was hired to direct 'New Moon,' but ever since his presentation at this year's Comic-Con, the fans have been on his side, and they believe he can do justice to the story."
A big part of that turnaround, it would seem, is the commonly held belief among Twilighters that Weitz will do a better job with the action scenes than his predecessor would have. Indeed, 93 percent of all buyers had watched the "New Moon" trailers online, with 77 percent saying the action scenes were a main draw and 98 percent (!) saying the action glimpsed in "New Moon" looked better than "Twilight."
"The action appears to be a big draw for 'New Moon,' " Medved added, saying he expects more boyfriends and husbands to come along to the theater this year. "It may help expand its audience so that it's the ultimate date-night movie."
Last year's midnight showings made huge news — and huge money — and we can expect it to happen again next month. Fifty-three percent of Twilighters surveyed plan to see the first "New Moon" show at midnight; 26 percent will see it at a different time opening day; and 21 percent will see it during opening week or thereafter. Out of that crowd, 79 percent are making plans to bring three or more friends.
"The 'New Moon' sales continue to be strong — it's not just for the very first showtimes — and if the film delivers, you can expect heavy repeat viewings," Medved said. "It looks like the opening weekend may turn out to be a social event. You kinda have to be there."
Lastly, Fandango even has stats on the Team Edward vs. Team Jacob rivalry — and, well, it's not looking pretty for Taylor Lautner. Although "New Moon" will feature far more screen time for Jacob Black, only 17 percent of ticket-buyers said they'd choose him, while 83 percent are Team Edward.
"I'm personally bummed that Jacob doesn't get more respect from the fans," Medved laughed. "He's a nice guy, and he deserves better."
Meanwhile, sports-betting Web site Bookmaker.com has asked its odds-makers to determine how much "New Moon" will make in its opening weekend; 40 percent believe the film will take in somewhere between $66 million and $80 million. That total would put it on track to equal or exceed the receipts of the first film.
THANKS TO MTV