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Your Turn: A no-holds-barred cage match between 'Twilight' and 'Titanic'

Posted Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 3:14 PM Central

by Tim Briscoe

I certainly did stir up a mess. I debated whether or not the fanaticism over Stephanie Meyer's Twilight book series could translate to box office records for the first film adaptation, coming this December.

In my article, I compared and contrasted the upcoming movie with the box office big daddy, Titanic. I built up Twilight and then beat it down, making it clear I didn't think it had a snowball's chance of breaking any records.

My flip-flopping won me some new enemies on both sides of the debate. Check out some wild comments I received -- some well-reasoned, others... well, not so much.

Yeah, Twilight!

That article was ridiculous. It started out amazing in the Titanic comparisons, and whoever wrote it ended it on such negative vibes. Those who are not fans, have absolutely no idea what is coming their way. Us fans come in thousands. Here are a few numbers. The Borders bookstore near me has BREAKING DAWN releasing tonight of course. They had 1000 copies, all of which have sold out on the reserves list alone. Since each book is about $15, that's $15,000 on a book only, in one little place in this country. Now let's look at movie numbers. Assuming all 1,000 of those people go to the movie, and you know they will...movie tickets are about $10 here! So that's $10,000 in this city alone. Are you blind? I doubt Annapolis, MD is the biggest bank for this movie. I am a moderator on a lot of these Twilight sites. You really don't understand, WE COME IN NUMBERS! It would be appreciated if you stopped underestimating us, the books, the story, the movie, and the actors that play in it. !

Why isn't it Oscar worthy? You don't know anything about it yet. It's so much more than a love story. And Robert/Leo look too different to be compared. They are both gorgeous and the point is, no one has the kind of spotlight Twilight has. Not even Harry Potter, who we so graciously knocked off the bestsellers list last year with Eclipse. Just brace yourselves!

-- "Mariely"

Boo, Twilight!

I read Twilight, and it's garbage. Meyers' prose is boring at best and the first half of her book relies on repetition. I can't say I understand the popularity of these books... First of all, Bella has no reason to even like Edward in the first place, and Meyers teases too much. The story basically revolves around the love between two idiots, meanwhile Meyers completely ignores all the literary possibilities that the whole vampire world avails her. Nope, no metaphors, no cool mythology, just two dopes in love with each other.

As for the movie adaptation, the trailer you provided hints that this will be another cheesy teen thriller. Considering the thousands of morons who obsess over the shallow material in the books however, I'm guessing the movie will hit it big at the box office. Hooray for pre-teen girls as well as the dumbed-down adults who have been sucked into this hype.

-- "Nate"

There you have it, the ultimate point-counterpoint in the argument. I own the first book but I've yet to read it. Both of these comments compel me to go home and turn the pages. In defense of Mariely, the just-released final book in the series sold 1.3 million -- in its first day.

Will those readers translate into movie ticket buyers?

Times Have Changed

Just a comment regarding the chances of Twilight beating Titanic at the box office. Keep in mind that in 1997/98 movies weren't as readily available on the Internet as they are today. If I could've watched Titanic on my pc, I'm sure I wouldn't have gone to see it 19 times! The Dark Knight could be viewed on several sights within 24 hours of its theatrical release. I think it'll be a very long time, if ever, that Titanic's beaten at the box office.

-- Kim in PA

This is an excellent point. Piracy wasn't quite the problem then as it is now. On the other hand, I don't think piracy takes a serious bite out of the U.S. box office. It has much more impact overseas and American DVD sales/rentals.

wow - to compare twilight to titanic is crazy, there will not be another titanic. i am a male who saw the movie only once in thea. and thought it was hands down the best movie ever made, the story, the music and the acting were the best around, this is why it went on to gross 1.8 billion dollars worldwide. twilight can only dream about being as big. heck, it cant even compete with the batman movies that grossed hardly anything. i am sad you would compare this movie to the mighty Titanic!!

-- Jordan in PA

Whoa, Jordan. There's a movie at the box office right now with a decent chance at matching Titanic. The Dark Knight is almost to $400 million and still going strong.

Whether or not Americans decide to stay home to watch the Olympics will be a big factor as to how close it gets to Titanic's $600 million mark. But, yeah, I agree it won't surpass it. I'm betting the Olympics will be a ratings disaster and TDK will end up with $540 million.

And while we're on the subject...

'The Dark Knight' shines

Is this for real? No repeat business for TDK? I've been 3 times...friends upwards of 6 times...and seriously, Sex and the City was supposed to be huge. And it was..a huge bomb.

-- "Jay"

To set things straight, in my story I said the jury is still out on The Dark Knight. It's pretty obvious now that there is a lot of repeat business for TDK.

What I really want to point out is how incredibly wrong you are on Sex and the City. Your perception is far from reality. That movie has done over $150 million at the box office. That's quite a success, especially when you consider it was made for a pittance compared to the special effects-laden TDK and Iron Man.

Yeah, I too thought it would fail but it's become an event movie for women. Twilight has a good chance to become a similar female event but for a slightly younger age group.

Personally, I don't think it will. I see 1 preview for it about a month ago or so and it didn't seem that interesting to me. Now Titanic put a love story aboard the story about the biggest ship built of all time, but What The Dark Knight did was bring forth a revival of pretty much in my opinion the funniest but most demented super villain of all time, and with Ledger's performance nailing to the Joker to the wall from more than 20 miles away, Titanic can keep its records, but I don't think twilight will beat either.

-- Chris in AZ

A good assessment, Chris. I think everyone already agrees Heath Ledger will be a shoe-in for Best Supporting Actor at next year's Oscars. Best Director for Christopher Nolan and Best Picture are good bets as well.

Competition will best 'Twilight'

Sorry guys, I am in your corner for most of your articles, but this one is a stretch. You are sampling a few slight comparisons with Titanic and taking it too far. A vampire movie in general is tough to sell to the masses. A love story between two actors who are still B-list at best, is not enough either. And your argument that holiday release creates the perfect triangle, is easily debunked by a long line of December A-bombs. My prediction: Will Smith wins at least the weekend on his name alone (and I don't even know what his movie is about), and Twilight's gross is sub 100 million (not that that's a failure).

-- Jeff in OH

Twilight is not coming close to Titanic or TDK numbers. It's going to open against Will Smith and Keanu Reeves? That's some bad planning by their company.

I think it will open at around $30M and end with $140M. It might do better overseas than it does in the US.

-- Sahil in GA

Twilight will open decent, but possibly in third behind a sci-fi film and Will Smith. Never bet against Will. It will not even come to $200 million. I have say that $125 will be a modest take. The general public is not aware of this film. If they want big numbers, they need to start throwing some publicity out there. TDK was running countless websites for months on end. It was featured in numerous EW magazines. Twilight only came to my attention a few weeks ago when it first appeared in EW. If this takes out TDK numbers, I will eat my shoe.

-- Adam in MO

You're all right in my eyes. Twilight's competitors will help do it in. The Will Smith flick in question is a dramatic role similar to The Pursuit of Happyness so it won't be a monumental, Hancock-like opening. But, at any rate, the Dec. 12 weekend doesn't look to be a sure-fire win for Twilight.

'Twilight' is a rip-off?

You forgot all the fans of the TV show MOONLIGHT! This new movie sounds a lot like the TV show. And not only do teen girls like it-guys like the action sequences and that he gets the girl in the end. But Kristen Stewart is not that bad, I agree that I would have put in a hotter 'girl next door' actress in the role.

-- Walter in NJ

I think this article is absolute lunacy. To expect Twilight to break the bank opening weekend for any more than $35 million is crazy.

Comparing it to THE DARK KNIGHT or TITANIC? HARRY POTTER can't even match domestically with those movies and it has a much larger fan base and following than TWILIGHT. Plus, just look at the trailer! It looks like THE COVENANT, and will likely get mixed/poor reviews, never a good sign for box office prosperity...

-- Chase in TX

I don't know but, the plot too this movie seems like scenes used from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. I mean a Human and a Vampire in a forbidden relationship?

Hasn't that already been explored in other movies? Personally, I didn't like 'TITANIC'. However, Hollywood is an entertainment business after all so I guess the bottom line is sales not talent.

-- Wendell in VA

This is another reason why I don't think it's gonna be the huge success on film. To people unfamiliar with the books, Twilight is very reminiscent of other movies. That, and the fact it has no "names" attached -- other than the title itself.

Point-Counterpoint #2

I think that this movie will be lucky to hit $36 million before it hits dvd. To think that it will compete with Titanic or The Dark Knight (the most entertaining movie in a while) is border line insane. I might rent it when it comes out on dvd, if I have a coupon.

-- Doug in OH

i'm a fan of the newsletter-- read today's and i had a question- have u even read the series? that freaking author is a genius-- GO SM!!! team edward-- i would pay 30 bucks if it meant i got to see the movie as soon as i hit send message.

-- "Dallas"

Just when you think you've deduced that Twilight will not break any records but also be a box office bust, there comes an email from a fan like this one. These Twilighters are religious about this stuff. But I gotta rest on the thought that even the most fervent cult films cannot be mainstream successes.

And Finally, I'm Fired

OMG!! This fu@%!%g idiot is actually suggesting that this Twilight might surpass Titanic? (BTW, More men than just gay men and 'guys dragged by their wives' went to see Titanic). Twighlight has a gay-as-hell storyline, virtually unknown actors, and an unknown director...I smell a mega box office blockbuster. Thanks for the laugh, but you may want to fire (or at least give a warning to) the idiot that wasted all that time and space putting together that lame ass article for a lame as movie. Or at least give them a warning. -- Jerry in FL

I might heed more caution with your response if you... oh I don't know... actually knew how to spell Twilight.

To be completely honest, the purpose of my story was to spark debate between Twilight fans and doubters. You know, shine a little light on this growing behemoth but at the same time bringing it down to size.

I think I succeeded in that regard. Well, at least I still have a job.

If you have anything more to add to this conversation, let us know.