Vampires danced over the penguins from the Antarctic on the weekend in the US as The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and Happy Feet Two went head to head.

Although targeting completely different audiences, the vampires won out easily in the battle, grossing $US139.5 million from 4061 screens in its opening weekend.

Happy Feet Two – directed by George Miller – came second, raking in $US22 million from 3606 screens (giving it a screen average of $US6108). This is just over half of what the Oscar-winning Happy Feet grossed in its first weekend in 2006. The first film did however open to lesser competition (Casino Royale, which grossed less than a third of Breaking Dawn).

According to Box Office Mojo, the 3D animated adventure film – again based on pudgy penguin Mumble and his dancing skills – had 50 per cent of its gross coming from 2825 3D screens. It's expected to gross more this weekend in the US, being Thanksgiving.

Happy Feet Two opens in Australia on December 26, against strong competition from two Steven Spielberg films: The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse. IF paid a visit to Miller’s Dr D Studios a few months ago – read about it in the October/November issue of IF Magazine.

At the local box office, Breaking Dawn: Part 1 – distributed by Hoyts – raked in $12.1 million from a massive 618 screens (giving it a phenomenal screen average of just under $20,000). The Twilight Saga: New Moon still remains at number one on the Top 10 Opening Weekends of All Time list, compiled by the MPDAA, after it raked in $16.1 million in its opening weekend back in 2009 (530 screens). Eclipse, released in July 2010, had an opening weekend of $12.9 million (500 screens).

In other box office news, Jonathan Teplitzky's Burning Man took in $68,464 in its opening weekend across 18 screens, posting a screen average of $3804. The Paramount/Transmission-distributed film centres on Tom (Matthew Goode), a British chef in Sydney, who is a good man behaving badly surrounded by women who are trying to fix his life. See the trailer here.

The Orator, the world’s first exclusively Samoan-language feature film, made an impressive $138,836 in its first weekend from just 14 screens (screen average of $9917). For a feature on the Transmission-distributed film, which is New Zealand's first ever entry in the foreign-language Oscar race, click here.

Documentary The Tall Man, released by eOne/Hopscotch, also opened on the weekend and posted $12,281 from just eight screens. The doco takes the viewer into the courtroom, into the once notorious Queensland police force, and into the Indigenous community of Palm Island.

Santa’s Apprentice, now in its second week, took $109,126 on the weekend from 138 screens. Becker bumped up the screens by 19, however the animated feature posted a 12 per cent decline in box office receipts (in its opening weekend the film grossed $124,072).

Australia/China co-production 33 Postcards had another rough week at the box office, grossing $6693 from 16 screens, giving it a screen average of just $400 after three weeks. It's now made $47,419.

Autoluminescent, about influential Melbourne guitarist Rowland S. Howard, added a further $2268 on the weekend from just one screen. The Umbrella Entertainment-distributed doco has now made $56,613 after four weeks.

Other Aussie features Red Dog and The Eye of the Storm remain in cinemas, grossing $61,542 (63 screens) and $32,517 (37 screens) respectively. The Cup is also holding on, and has now made $2.7 million since opening on October 13.

Melbourne-shot horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, through distributor eOne, has now grossed $248,196 at the local box office since opening three weeks ago.

In other films at the box office, Sony’s Moneyball grossed $998,043 (223 screens) and Shark Night 3D grossed $188,457 (131 screens) – both in their second weekends. For a full feature on how the sharks were made for Shark Night 3D, pick up a copy of the October/November issue of IF Magazine.

Australian films at the box office 2011

Source: IF Magazine, MPDAA. Note: Other local films not listed in the table haven't been included due to not giving us figures.

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