The hype and anticipation surrounding Summit Entertainment’s The Twilight Saga: New Moon paid off handsomely as the vampire sequel delivered $142.8m from 4,024 theatres in the third highest North American opening weekend in history.

Coupled with a truly astonishing $132.1m haul including previews from a mere 24 international markets that eclipsed Sony’s behemoth 2012 in its second weekend, the film already stands at $258.8m worldwide after several days.

Domestically New Moon shattered numerous records in its wake and reiterated the power of the female film-going demographic as Summit’s exit poll research revealed 80% of the audience comprised women. Half the crowd was aged under 21.

New Moon grossed $72.7m on Friday, $43.2m on Saturday and $24.8m on Sunday and rewrote the record books:

Beyond that, Warner Bros’ true-life inspirational drama The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock opened well in second on $34.5m, while Sony’s disaster movie 2012 fell two spots to number three on $26.5m for a $108.2m running total. Sony’s animated adventure Planet 51 debuted in fourth on $12.6m.

Elsewhere Lionsgate’s Precious was shunted down three places to number six and added $11m for $21.4m. Disney’s A Christmas Carol edged towards $80m in its third weekend and ranks fifth after adding $12.2m for $79.8m.

Estimated Top 10 North America November 20-22 2009

Film (Dist) / Est wkd gross / Est total to date

1 (-) The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Summit Entertainment) Summit Int’l $140.7m –

2 (-) The Blind Side (Warner Bros) WBPI $34.5m –

3 (1) 2012 (Sony) SPRI $26.5m $108.2m

4 (-) Planet 51 (Sony) SPRI $12.6m –

5 (2) A Christmas Carol (Buena Vista) WDSMPI $12.2m $79.8m

6 (3) Precious: Based On The Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire (Lionsgate) $11m $21.4m

7 (4) The Men Who Stare At Goats (Overture) Mandate Int’l $2.8m $27.6m

8 (7) Couples Retreat (Universal) UPI $1.9m $105m

9 (6) The Fourth Kind (Universal) UPI $1.7m $23.3m

10 (9) Law Abiding Citizen (Overture) The Film Dept $1.6m $70m