Sony's James Bond adventure "Skyfall" was a fraction behind with $17 million domestically, raising revenue to $246 million after four weekends.
"Skyfall" also brought in $34 million overseas to put its international take at $623 million and the worldwide total at $869 million, the best cash haul ever for a Bond flick.
Pitt's "Killing Them Softly," the weekend's top new release, tanked with just $7 million domestically, coming in at No. 7 behind a big batch of holdovers.
The "Twilight" finale and "Skyfall" were close enough that domestic rankings could flip-flop when final numbers are released Monday. Either way, the two movies have led a brisk start to the holiday season that could lift Hollywood to record domestic revenues for the year.
"I keep upping my revenue estimates for the full end-of-year box office because it's just been a lot stronger than anticipated lately," said Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com.
With domestic business totaling $9.9 billion so far in 2012, receipts are running 6 percent ahead of last year's and are on track to top the record of $10.6 billion set in 2009, according to Hollywood.com.
After record revenue over Thanksgiving, business eased off, though it still was a stronger-than-usual post-holiday weekend. Domestic revenues totaled $115 million, up 42 percent from the same weekend last year, when "Breaking Dawn — Part 1" led with $16.5 million.
A Weinstein Co. release, "Killing Them Softly" averaged just $2,888 in 2,424 theaters, meager results compared to the "Twilight" finale's average of $4,344 in 4,008 cinemas over its third weekend.
Adapted from George V. Higgins' novel "Cogan's Trade," ''Killing Them Softly" stars Pitt as a gang enforcer on the trail of two small-time crooks who held up a mob-protected card game.