New Moon's $140 million taking is the third biggest opening weekend of all time, just behind The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 3.

There was a point on Friday when I was reading that the midnight showings of New Moon ($26.3 million on Thursday night alone) were breaking box office numbers that I seriously thought The Dark Knight's record $158.4 million opening weekend haul was in huge jeopardy. In the end though, Variety say Summit Entertainment will have to settle for third place on the all time top grossing opening weekends list with $140.07 million, just behind Spider-Man 3 ($151.1 million). Worldwide, the Twilight sequel has taken $258.8 million!!!

the dark knight pattinsonA close shave but teenage vampire morality plays are still no match for The Joker! So why the title of my post... why a "Game-changer"? Simply put - This Twilight series is a new phenomenon. Firstly, it's aimed directly at girls and girls aren't known to visit the cinema in such large numbers the way fanboy males are. Tentpoles aren't usually made exclusively for the female audience, they aren't a cash cow that Hollywood has ever aimed at directly in such a ruthless manner. The marketing for New Moon changed all that. It also tells us that, and I'm not trying to start an argument or be overally negative here but it's true statement of fact... most moviegoers are dumb as a plank. They really are. Taking candy from a baby is that $147 million haul. The same way Transformers 2 (finished on $833 million worldwide) and G.I. Joe ($301 million worldwide). Do people not have respect for their money these days? No matter how bad New Moon looked, no matter how many bad reviews came in, no matter how much the movie was shoved down their throats... those manipulated young girls (and shamefully, the older ones too) were always going to see the picture take this kind of haul. I sincerely hope the majority of them are looking themselves directly in the mirror this morning, and when they are asked about whether they enjoyed the movie from friends or family, I hope they can seriously be honest and say what they really think. This weekend is a victory for the hype machine, and despite the problems I had with both Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean 3... they never downgraded themselves to the low level that this Twilight series does. twilight-new-moon-wolf-packOpened shirt werewolves? Has a big movie ever aimed exclusively at women in such a way? Another reason it's a game-changer is that New Moon is exclusive for the fans of the books and doesn't lend itself well to a wider audience. How many non-comic book readers saw The Dark Knight last year, or how many saw Spidey 3? Peter Willis, the co-owner of this site is one such man. I dare say he has scarcely read a comic in his life but the Batman character and the Spidey movie franchise had built him up as a fan. That ain't the case here, these fans have read EVERYTHING about the Twilight series, I would suggest at least 80-90% of those who saw it this weekend, saw it because they were huge fans of the book series. Also this haul has come in November and is not a summer blockbuster, once again proving it's the hardcore fans who were seeing it. Eclipse, the third part of the Twilight series opens on June 30, 2010 and is most certainly a summer blockbuster. I fear for our Caped Crusader come June. Note: thanks to /film for pointing out deathtoll1912's great Twilight/Dark Knight image.

Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.