The repeat-filmgoer is a time-honored, and much-coveted, Hollywood tradition. Teenage girls around the world came out again and again to see Leo's Jack Dawson shed a romantic tear in "Titanic." (He still died.)
Director Christopher Nolan has practically mastered the repeat feat -- art-house audiences came back to see "Memento" twice just to figure out what in the name of Einsteinian theory was going on -- while "Inception" was a double-dip favorite among the fan boy set a few summers back.
If there's any movie that would seem to lend itself to repeat viewing this year, it's "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 1" The film's fans are the rabid sort who want to cry with each gesture of vampiric love and tense up with each werewolf confrontation. For many, buying a ticket is less an act of filmgoing t
han a ritual. And you don't perform a ritual just once.
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Yet the movie's box office performance this weekend shows that the movie may not be generating that sort of reaction. As my colleague Amy Kaufman writes in Monday's Los Angeles Times, the Kristen Stewart-Robert Pattinson picture tallied $16.9 million this weekend -- not a bad total for a third weekend, but down a bit according to one key metric.
Though the fourth movie in the franchise has grossed $247 million since opening two weekends ago, it’s still lower than the November opening of the second movie, “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” which took in $255 million over the same period. (The third picture “Eclipse,” came out in June, which makes comparisons difficult.)
It’s impossible to know why the numbers are slightly lower this time around, but executives at studio Summit Entertainment have a theory: This film isn’t generating the repeat buyers like “New Moon” did.
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"I think our audience has grown a little bit older, and therefore their interests have changed," the studio's Richie Fay told Kaufman. "That audience was also a big repeat audience, so maybe this time they've only seen the movie once, when they would have seen it 4 1/2 times before."
It’s an interesting theory, though repeat viewings don’t on their face seem to be correlated with the age of the filmgoer -- certainly “Inception” wasn’t playing primarily to the grade-school set.
There is, however, a neater explanation. This movie is the first of two, as its title, not to mention its cliffhanger ending, suggests. After all, Stewart's Bella Swan (spoiler alert, though if you somehow do not know this then you probably don't care to), after appearing dead during the movie's climax, bolts her eyes wide open just before the movie ends, hinting at the vampire life she will soon lead. And when you tease people that much about what’s to come, they may not be satisfied with what they have.
Or, put another way, when you leave them wanting more, they don’t always come back for more of the same.