Tickets to a Twilight film

You can mock the twinkly vampires, you can shake your head at the tabloid stories surrounding stars Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart and you can roll your eyes at the middle-aged folks writing fan fiction about it, but never doubt the money-making power of the Twilight film series.

Forget the sales of Stephanie Meyer's vaguely Mormon books that launched the Twilight built on vampire/lycan/teen romance. Just look at the numbers: Combined, the five films in the series have taken in nearly $3.3 billion worldwide since 2008. A Twilight film has been the top-grossing U.S. film in three of the past five holiday seasons, according to BoxOfficeMojo. Between the first weekend in November and the last weekend in December, Twilight brought in $193 million in the U.S. in 2008, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1 yielded $281 million last year and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2 finished this year with more than $282 million.

The films transformed parent company Summit Entertainment from an Oscar-winning art-house shop and occasional teen movie maker to a well-rounded nine-figure commodity. Lions Gate Entertainment ( LGF) paid $412 million for Summit, its film library and rights to the Twilight series.

We can't guarantee that Twilight won't return to theaters again, as a one-night-only reshowing of the first two films brought in $2.4 million in 2010 and new owners Lions Gate may want some of that vampire money for themselves. Considering Lions Gate already has the rights to films from the next big book-to-screen series, Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, the Twilight films take their place on the shelf next to Harry Potter and collect dust for a bit.


Go ahead, be mad.

Be mad at Hostess' bakers union for striking over wage and benefit concessions. Be mad at Hostess' chief executive, Gregory Rayburn, for not cutting a dime out of his multimillion-dollar pay or other executives' bonuses.

But please consider what you're mad at. America's shifting dietary habits aside, the Twinkie as a product hasn't been healthy in a while. Its first parent company, Continental Bakery, was passed around by owners including ITT ( ITT), Ralston Purina and Interstate Bakeries. The last company spent 2004 through 2009 in bankruptcy before changing its name to Hostess Brands. The identity shift didn't help, as the company went bankrupt again two years later.

Hostess' assets have been liquidated and its brands have drawn interest from Kroger ( KR), Wal-Mart ( WMT), Target ( TGT) and others and the snack can be sneaked in from Canada, but the days of widely available Twinkies may be over. Every supermarket chain has a knockoff version, Hostess competitor McKee Foods and its Little Debbie brand have continued selling the similar Dream Cakes during the Twinkie's hiatus and competitors such as Flowers Foods ( FLO) have kept regional favorites such as Tastykake alive and kicking.

So who are you really mad at? Scapegoats aside, the Twinkie's turbulent financial history should have made die-hard Hostess fans queasy long before now.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post,, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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