Weekend Box Office: Transformers 3 Crushes Records, Larry Crowne Underwhelms, Cars 2 Crashes

As expected,
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
) dominated the long Fourth-of-July holiday frame this weekend.  The film had a Fri-Sun debut of $97 million and thus far sits with $161 million since
.  It netted a 6.25-day opening of $180 million, with a worldwide six-day opening weekend of $418 million.  There are those who will scream "DISAPPOINTMENT!" because
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
opened with $200 million in its first five days two years ago.  If $180 million in six days is disappointment, sign me up for failure anytime.  The film played 62% male and 55% under-25.  Oddly enough, the picture scored an A- from males and an A from females in Cinemascore polling.  I'm sure pundits will find sexist explanations for that finding ("Oh, the girls just LOVED that LeBeouf goes into a war-torn Chicago to save his girlfriend."), but I'll just chalk it up to the fact that any woman who walks into a
movie likes robot-smashing and explosions as much as the stereotypical guy.  The picture sold 60% of its tickets in 3D, which is an uptick from the usual 45/55 2D advantage over the last few months.  Point being, if you give teens and older audiences something worth seeing in 3D (as opposed to families with really young kids), they will make the choice to plunk down the extra $3.

Anyway, the film had a slightly slower start than Revenge of the Fallen ($42 million opening day versus $62 million opening day), but managed to catch up to the derided sequel as the weekend wore on (part 3's Friday was just $3 million behind part 2's Friday).  The $97 million Fri-Sun opening was the biggest opening weekend of the year, and the nineteenth-biggest opening weekend ever.  It's $162 million five-day total is the seventh-biggest on record and unseats Spider-Man 2 ($152 million) as the biggest Wed-Sun haul in July 4th history.  It's six-day total is fifth.  Where it goes from here is an open question as always.  The 3D screens will be an endangered species as early as July 22nd, when Captain America opens in 3D and 2D.  The IMAX screens are gone as of July 15th, when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II unfurls (also in 3D, but it will take most of its 3D screens from Green Lantern and Cars 2).  While Dark of the Moon may not match the $400 million+ domestic haul of Revenge of the Fallen, the $310 million gross of the original Transformers is well within reach, and overseas numbers are already crushing previous Transformers opening records around the world.  It's too early to say whether it can reach the $1 billion club.  But if Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides can parlay (sorry, pirate pun) ugly and dark 3D into a $1 billion worldwide gross (thanks foreigners...), then surely something that actually provides obvious value for your 3D dollar can make a similar run.  Oh, and for those complaining that Michael Bay reused footage from The Island (so as to not reshoot a stunt that seriously injured a stuntwoman and/or use the footage of her injury in the film), Disney has done the same thing for years (CLICK).

Also opening this weekend was the Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts recession dramedy
Larry Crowne
.  The film, distributed by Universal, opened with $13 million over the Fri-Sun portion of the weekend and $16 million for the four-day holiday.  Despite the star-power at play, it's important to remember a few things.  A) The film looked lousy and got bad reviews.  B) The film only cost $30 million to produce, so it will be profitable.  C) Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks are years (a decade?) past their peak, so
, especially with a small film such as this.  This is a small, character-driven film that will do decent business over the next month, as the core audience (older moviegoers - 81% were 35 and up) are not the sort to race out on opening weekend.  The other wide release was
Monte Carlo
, a low-profile romantic comedy from Fox that opened with $7.6 million on this very crowded weekend, with $8.6 million by Monday.  The film cost $20 million, so money should be made somewhere down the line.

There was lots of holdover news, so I'll try to make it brief.  Cars 2 more-or-less crashed and burned in its second weekend, dropping a shocking (especially for Pixar) 62% in weekend two.  The film grossed $26 million over Fri-Sun, or about what it made on its first day last weekend.  Still, the critically-lambasted sequel has $123 million in the domestic bank as of Monday, with the real jackpot hopefully waiting overseas and with merchandising rights.  The drop and subsequent lower-than-expected final cum is more of a morale defeat that a real one.  Pixar will be fine, so let's not judge too harshly.  Despite what pundits want to think, this was not a soulless cash-grab, but a case of John Lasseter doing 'one for me' (he loves the old cars and old spy movies) that happens to be a merchandising cash cow.  In happier animation news, Kung Fu Panda 2 held on just a little longer, ending the weekend with $157 million and (more importantly) crossing $500 million worldwide.  Paramount's Super 8 crossed the $100 million mark over the weekend and will end the holiday with $110 million (or $48 million, adjusted for 1985 nostalgia-fueled inflation).

The big news this weekend was the several benchmarks passed by Bridesmaids.  It surpassed Knocked Up and Talladega Nights on Thursday to become the biggest film Judd Apatow has ever been involved in. Today, it passed Sex and the City as the biggest female-driven comedy ever.  It's now the seventh-biggest romantic comedy in history (if you want to call it a romcom... your call).  At $153.7 million, it's also the 9th-biggest R-rated comedy ever and the 22nd biggest R-rated film period. So let's keep up the Oscar buzz for Kristen Wiig, shall we? Last weekend's other big opener, Bad Teacher, dropped 55% but still sits at $62 million, or triple its budget.  X-Men: First Class is heading towards $140 million while it has surpassed $335 million worldwide.  Mr. Popper's Penguins crossed $50 million.  And, finally, Green Lantern crossed $100 million this weekend, for what little that's worth.

That's it for this weekend.  The numbers will be updated as the four-day holiday figures arrive.  Join us next weekend for the debuts of Horrible Bosses and The Zookeeper.

Scott Mendelson