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'New Moon' sets midnight showing record

"New Moon" is raking in ticket sales even before its first full day is over.
"New Moon" is raking in ticket sales even before its first full day is over.
  • "New Moon" grossed $26.3 million from midnight showings alone
  • The vampire romance is set to surpass "Twilight" for first-day sales
  • But with sales comes backlash; the Vatican has spoken out against "New Moon"
  • Only time will tell if it will also surpass "The Dark Knight" for "best opening day"
  • Stephenie Meyer
  • Movies

(CNN) -- The second installment in the "Twilight" saga, starring Robert Pattinson as vampire Edward Cullen, Kristen Stewart as his star-crossed love and Taylor Lautner as the wolfboy who loves her, has already ripped through a box office record.

According to Hollywood trade magazine Variety, "New Moon" is the biggest midnight showing in history, grossing $26.3 million when it opened in 3,514 theaters at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

The film even surpassed the supernatural cinema force that is "Harry Potter," collecting more than the $22.2 million that "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" earned during its midnight showing this summer.

"New Moon" has also easily beaten its own predecessor, "Twilight," which earned $36 million on opening day last year. And while "Twilight's" opening weekend was $69.7 million, early reports are that "New Moon" will do even better.

But along with the ticket sales bounty is backlash.

The Vatican released an announcement Friday denouncing the film, which is based on Stephenie Meyer's blockbuster series.

"This film is nothing more than a moral vacuum with a deviant message and as such should be of concern," warns the Vatican's culture council leader, Monsignor Franco Perazzolo, in a statement timed to the release of "New Moon," according to E! Online.

"This theme of vampires in 'Twilight' combines a mixture of excesses," he continued, "that, as ever, is aimed at young people and gives a heavy esoteric element."

Yet the kids these days appear to dig the "excesses" of "Twilight." Still, only time will tell if "New Moon" will also outsell the current "best opening day" titleholder, "The Dark Knight," which grossed $67.2 million when it opened July 18, 2008.