Los Angeles: `The Twilight Saga: Eclipse` is waning at the box office but still has gotten off to a blockbuster start with $161 million in its first five days, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The third chapter in Summit Entertainment`s vampire romance fell off sharply after debuting last Wednesday with $68.5 million. That was the second-best opening-day haul ever, behind its predecessor, last year`s "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," which opened with $72.7 million.
After that huge first day, "Eclipse" averaged about $23 million daily over the next four days. That includes an estimate for a slow Sunday as people turned their attention to Fourth of July activities.
"Weather has a lot to do with a Fourth of July opening. I`m not looking to make excuses, but between barbecues and fireworks, we have a lot of competition," said Richie Fay, head of distribution for Summit. "I do think people will come back to the movie."
Its total through Sunday came in well short of the $200 million mark set last year by "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," the record-holder for best five-day start for movies opening on Wednesday.
"Eclipse" easily held the No. 1 spot for the weekend, though its $69 million Friday-to-Sunday total was only a fraction more than what the movie took in just on opening day. "New Moon" took in $142.8 million in its first weekend last November, though the movie opened on Friday and the figure includes its record opening-day gross.
Summit estimates "Eclipse" will climb to around $181 million domestically by Monday. The movie also has added $100.2 million in 42 overseas markets.
"Eclipse" has found a wider fan base than "New Moon," with a bigger percentage of males turning out for the latest installment. Female fans accounted for 80 percent of the audience on "New Moon" but only 65 percent of crowds for "Eclipse," Summit reported.
The latest adaptation of Stephenie Meyer`s best-selling novels, "Eclipse" continues the love triangle involving a broody teen (Kristen Stewart), her vampire sweetheart (Robert Pattinson) and her werewolf pal (Taylor Lautner).
The weekend`s other new wide release, Paramount`s "The Last Airbender," opened well with $40.7 million to finish at No. 2 for the three-day weekend. The movie took in $53.2 million since debuting Thursday.
Directed by M. Night Shyamalan ("The Sixth Sense"), "The Last Airbender" is based on the cartoon series about a youth with mythical powers who can unite four warring nations.
"The Last Airbender" found a solid audience despite dreadful reviews from critics, who found the plot muddled and the dialogue stilted.
Disney`s animated smash "Toy Story 3," which had been No. 1 the previous two weekends, slipped to third-place with $30.2 million, raising its total to $289 million.
"Toy Story 3" is about to pass last year`s "Up" at $293 million to become No. 2 on the chart of Pixar Animation`s blockbusters. The Disney unit`s top-grossing film is "Finding Nemo" at $339.7 million.
Hollywood`s overall business rose, helping to shore up this summer`s sliding box office. Total revenues came in at about $193 million from Friday to Sunday, up 19 percent from the Fourth of July weekend last year, according to box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
Revenues this season are running at $2.16 billion, down a fraction from summer 2009. Factoring in higher ticket prices, though, movie attendance this summer is down 6.7 percent, according to Hollywood.com.