The final outing for Summit Entertainment's blockbuster Twilight vampire franchise could have the sharpest bite of all.
Most box office observers believe The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2 will score a franchise best opening at the domestic box office with a $145 million to $150 million debut, beating record holder The Twilight Saga: New Moon ($142.8 million).
Breaking Dawn 2 begins rolling out in North America at 10 p.m. on Thursday night; by Friday morning, it will be playing in 4,070 theaters.
Summit is predicting a more conservative domestic opening and says Breaking Dawn 2 is tracking more in line with last year's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1, which grossed $138.1 million on the same weekend a year ago.
Breaking Dawn 2 has several factors in its favor, however. It's the final film in the series, so should generate additional heat. Additionally, the North American box office has been generating strong results for popular event titles.
Online ticketing service Fandango reports that thousands of shows for Breaking Dawn 2 are already sold out, and that the film represents 92 percent of all advance ticket sales as of Thursday morning. Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 also is starting to pull ahead of Breaking Dawn -- Part 1.
"It's the most anticipated movie event of the season, and our surveys indicate that the action in Part 2 may be driving new moviegoers to see the grand finale," Fandango president Paul Yanover said.
According to a recent Fandango poll of more than 1,000 moviegoers, Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 is the most anticipated fall title, with 57 percent of fans planning to see it more than once.
Summit reports that there have been more than 260 million views of video content online for Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 -- more than any previous Twilight film.
Returning Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner in the title roles, Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 was directed by Bill Condon and adapted for the screen by franchise scribe Melissa Rosenberg.
Breaking Dawn 2 is already outpacing Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 in several foreign markets where it opened Wednesday, including France. It debuts in a total of 61 international territories this weekend, making it Summit's largest day-and-date opening to date. The film's foreign presence will be boosted by IMAX runs (the large-format exhibitor isn't carrying the moive domestically).
The main goal of Summit's marketing plan for the final installment was to galvanize and ignite Twilight fans, says the studio.