BOX OFFICE: Transformers 3 Sends Shockwaves This Fourth of July

Ty, if we make it out of this alive, you think I could get a part in Fast Six?

Good news and bad news to report this weekend. Transformers: Dark of the Moon has won the coveted top-grossing opening weekend of the year honor, surpassing the likes of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Hangover Part II. The capper to the intellectually-draining Transformers saga earned a respectable $97.4 million Friday to Sunday. Not bad, but its predecessor, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, made $108 million two years ago. And it accomplished that without 3D ticket surcharges. Overseas, the last in the series is performing strongly adding another $210 million to its total. It was a record-setting amount as well, enough for it to be the third best opening for the month of July ever. As for whether or not to pull the plug on 3-D releases, 71% of the earnings came from 3-D ticket sales.

So what does this mean? Not a hell of a lot. Dark of the Moon was going to make money regardless. Revenge of the Fallen sucked something awful but it made $836 million globally. Will it have the legs to surpass the domestic earnings of the first film ($319 million)? It could, but its numbers overseas will be the earnings that determine if it can push past a billion. By Monday closing its overall total may be as high as $405 million. Almost halfway there to the milestone and it’s only the first weekend!

The same weekend that teenage boys flocked to rockem-sockem robot porn, the AARP crowd went to see Larry Crowne. It was the safest choice. They like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, so to see them together in a comedy was a no-brainer pick. But the marketing was uninspired. Star presence aside, would you pay to see a movie about a guy who loses his job and takes a public-speaking class at a local college? Add to that, the guy is a regular square. He doesn’t drink, or have skeletons in his closet. But he does drive a Moped. Tom Hanks was the main selling point, but you have to wonder how it would have fared if you played with the star power. A reunion of Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts, perhaps? Or keep Tom Hanks and pair him with Angela Bassett. That would boast the viewership somewhat. Larry Crowne finished the weekend with a disappointing $13 million. Expect to see this one become a regular occurrence in Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day DVD-for-Sale promotions.

Last week’s number one and two had to settle for silver and bronze. Cars 2 is the twelfth consecutive Pixar release to make it past the $100 million mark. Considering how it dropped 62% from first and second weekends, it may struggle to surpass the original Toy Story‘s $191 million gross. Overall, it should still do fine, when you consider overseas performance and merchandising (where the real money from the movie is made).

As much as I disliked Bad Teacher as a comedy, I’m happy for director Jake Kasdan. Son of Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote and directed The Big Chill and co-wrote The Empires Strike Back, Jake finally got himself a hit comedy. Good for him. Having directed Orange County, the little-seen The TV Set, and the overlooked musical parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, he was due for a hit. With $88 million overall vs. a production cost of $20 million, who knew that being so bad paid so well?

Placing fifth was the third major new release of the weekend, Monte Carlo The Selena Gomez-starring comedy definitely played to the youngster and tweener crowd bringing in $7.6 million.

Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Wait what movie is this again?

In an interesting twist, this weekend saw Super 8 perform better than Green Lantern. Despite Lantern‘s bigger budget and marketing campaign it looks like JJ Abrams’ ode to Spielberg will out-perform. Still, Warner Bros. is committed to making a Green Lantern sequel, but you know they have to be disappointed knowing that a $50 million film without a 3D surcharge will make more money than its franchise starter.

Moving past Jim Carrey and his penguin infestation, let’s look at Bridesmaids and the records it made this past weekend. It’s still in the top ten after being in theaters for two months. At $152.9 million it surpassed Sex and the City to be the new number one R-rated female comedy (whew, now I can sleep soundly at night). It also surpassed Knocked Up to become Judd Apatow’s most successful comedy. Midnight in Paris finished in tenth position. The comedy has raked in $33.6 million after seven weeks and is just $7 million away to become Woody Allen’s best performing film all-time.

If you still care about numbers after all that, here’s one more record for you. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides crossed the $1 billion mark. Overseas totals account for most of its earnings, more than any other film that has made a billion or more. Yes, even going by percentage points, On Stranger Tides relied more on foreign grosses than Avatar.

1. Transformers: Yes We Really Had a Script – $97.4 million ($372 million worldwide)
2. Cars 2 – $25.1 million ($116 million)
3. Bad Santa Imposter – $14.1 million ($60 million)
4. Tom Hanks Gives a Pretty Woman a Moped Ride – $13 million
5. Monte Carlo – $7.6 million
6. Super 8 – $7.5 million ($108 million)
7. Not Making Much Green Lantern – $6.3 million ($102 million)
8. Mr. Popper’s Illegal Penguins – $5.1 million ($50 million)
9. Bridesmaids and the City – $3.5 million ($153 million)
10. Midnight in Paris – $3.4 million ($34 mil.)

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