‘Transformers 2’ Tops $200 Million in 5 Days

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen continued to dominate the market over the weekend after a stellar Wednesday and Thursday. The sci-fi blockbuster attacked 4,234 theaters collecting $109 million domestically from Friday-to-Sunday, which was down a bit from Paramount‘s $112 million estimate on Sunday. Still, that was just enough to become the second film ever to top $200 million in five days, although The Dark Knight wins the tiebreaker since its total was slightly higher after its fifth day with $203.8 million versus $200.1 million for the Michael Bay directed film.

At first glance, the numbers don’t quite add up as they should. After all, the weekend actuals were off by $3 million, yet the five day total is down only $1.1 million. That’s because, in an unorthodox move, Paramount revised the Wednesday and Thursday numbers upwards from $60.6 to $62 million for Wednesday and $28.6 to $29.1 million for Thursday. Unlike the Friday-to-Sunday numbers, the Wednesday and Thursday tallies were already official numbers. One has to wonder where the extra $1.9 million is coming from, which conveniently was just enough to push Transformers 2 above $200 million. Regardless, this debut is extraordinary and rocketed beyond the already lofty industry expectations. This opening significantly built upon the first Transformers‘ launch of $155.4 million over six and a half days after launching on a Monday at 7 pm to take full advantage of the Independence Day holiday. The total eventually reached $319.2 million. This sequel looks to easily top $350 million and possibly even $400 million.

Here is a rundown of the major records and milestones that Transformers 2 has set:

Highest Wednesday gross ($62M) topping Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Highest non-opening Thursday ($29.1M) topping Spider-Man 2
Highest non-opening Friday ($36.7M) topping Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith
Largest June opening weekend ($109M) topping Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Largest opening of the year topping X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Largest Wednesday-Sunday tally ($200.1M) topping Spider-Man 2
Second largest 5-day debut ever behind The Dark Knight
Second largest overall opening day behind The Dark Knight
Third largest midnight debut ($16 million)
Largest and widest IMAX debut eclipsing Star Trek

UPDATE: The Numbers is reporting the reasoning behind Paramount’s sudden revisal in Transformers 2’s numbers on Wednesday and Thursday is because of late reports from IMAX and a sizable amount of theaters in Puerto Rico.

Box Office Data Sources: Box Office Mojo and The Numbers

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‘Night at the Museum’ Wins Box Office Battle, No Salvation for ‘Terminator’

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian handily beat Terminator Salvation to lead a decent Memorial Day weekend at the box office. While neither film came close to topping last year’s holiday blockbuster, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the combined haul from the pair of sequels was comparable to Indy‘s fourth outing.

Smithsonian uncovered a healthy $70.1 million from a mega-wide 4,096 theaters over the Friday-to-Monday holiday frame. The $54.2 million figure from the traditional Friday-to-Sunday period was the largest opening for a live-action family film so far this year and the highest ever for its star, Ben Stiller. This number represents a substantial improvement over the original Night at the Museum, which opened to $42.2 million over the Friday-to-Monday Christmas weekend in 2006. The December release date allowed Night at the Museum to display strong legs finishing with $250.9 million. That total will be hard to match, even with a much heftier opening from Smithsonian, in part, because of direct competition in the weeks ahead from Disney/Pixar’s Up on May 29 and the big screen adaptation of Land of the Lost on June 5. Still, 20th Century Fox, the studio behind the family comedy, should be very pleased with the result, which came in above most industry expectations. Smithsonian was able to take advantage of being the first major family film since Monsters Vs. Aliens landed in March.

The news is not quite as rosy for Warner Bros., which continues to see disappointing results from Terminator Salvation. Salvation‘s Friday figure of $14.8 million was a little higher than its Thursday debut, but the sci-fi sequel could not keep its momentum on Saturday as it suffered a 2% drop to $14.5 million. The final figure for the five day extended launch stands at $65.3 million, over $7 million lower than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines‘ first five days despite six years of inflation. The official Friday-to-Monday tally was $51.9 million and $42.6 million from 3,530 theaters Friday-to-Sunday. Even the casting of Christian “Batman” Bale wasn’t enough to reinvigorate the stagnating franchise.

Star Trek posted an impressive hold during its third outing with $22.9 million over the Fri-to-Sun period, a 47% retreat from last weekend. Monday was strong for the reboot, which boosted the four day figure to $29.4 million. Trek  weathered competition from two different fronts. Moviegoers were given another sci-fi option in the form of Terminator Salvation, and, in addition, Smithsonian swiped most of Trek‘s IMAX screens, which have provided a very significant portion of the grosses for Captain Kirk and company. With $191 million in the bank, the Paramount release should complete its journey in the vicinity of $250 million.

Angels & Demons continues to lag far behind its predecessor with a $27.4 million holiday weekend. The $21.7 million figure from Fri-to-Sun was off 53% from its debut compared to 56% for The Da Vinci Code, which opened much stronger. The 11 day bounty for the adult thriller stands at $87.5 million and should finish with around $130 million.

The latest attempt at spoof, Dance Flick, opened with a passable $12.6 million from 2,450 theaters, which includes $2 million from the Monday holiday. The latest from the Wayans clan did not cost too much to make so profitability will still happen, eventually.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine continues to hold admirably since collapsing in its second weekend. The Friday-to-Sunday figure was off 45% and the weekend total including Monday was $9.9 million upping the haul to $165.2 million. $180 million is the target.

In seventh, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past posted the smallest decline among wide releases with a 42% descent. The total climbed to $46.9 million in 25 days. Obsessed was one spot behind with $2.4 million over the four day period upping the cume to an impressive $66.3 million.

Monsters Vs. Aliens took a direct hit from Smithsonian but still hung on for one more weekend in the top ten. The $193.7 million for the DreamWorks Animation is the heftiest of the year so far, although Star Trek will pass it up shortly. The gross will not climb much higher since Up will be taking away most of its digital 3-D screens on Friday. 17 Again captured the final spot in top ten despite dropping 70%. The total for the Zac Efron fantasy comedy is a solid $60.6 million.

On the limited release front, The Brothers Bloom expanded from 4 to 52 theaters and grossed a decent $495,527 raising the total to $618,195. The indie pic will continue to add theaters in the weeks ahead. The Girlfriend Experience, Steven Soderbergh’s latest arthouse experiment, debuted in 30 specialty theaters and attracted $204,112 from Fri-to-Mon, solid considering it’s already available on pay-per-view. Girlfriend stars adult film star turned Hollywood actress Sasha Grey.

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Box Office Data Source: Box Office Mojo

‘Terminator Salvation’ Lackluster on Thursday

Terminator Salvation prepared for battle a day early with a solid but disappointing $13.4 million Thursday launch from 3,480 theaters. That’s slightly more than half of the $25 million opening day from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which was unleashed on the same Thursday last year. Indy was able to surge to $126.9 million over the Friday-Monday Memorial Day weekend thanks to strong family support. If Salvation follows the same pattern, the weekend total would be a respectable $70 million. Unfortunately for the Christian Bale starring film, despite the kid-friendly PG-13 rating, families have another option this year in the form of Ben Stiller.

Warner Bros. had hoped to revive the fledging franchise after the disappointing showing of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines in 2003. Salvation’s trailer debuted in front of another WB juggernaut, The Dark Knight, last summer, which also starred Bale. After all, Bale was a key component in the resurrection of the Batman franchise. Unfortunately, the franchise may have not been as popular today as WB had hoped for. “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” was recently cancelled after struggling through two seasons on Fox.

As far as how the weekend should play out for the sci-fi action pic, Friday’s numbers should be about the same as Thursday. There should be a slight uptick on Saturday to about $14.5 million and then a 10% decline on Sunday for about $13 million. Monday should bring in an additional $10 million for a $51 million weekend tally and $64 million including Thursday. That would be a poor showing considering the $200 million price tag.

Another sequel will be released on Friday in the form of Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian at a mega-wide 4,096 theaters. In addition to the excellent release date, the PG-rated comedy is the first major family film in nearly two months. The original opened during the month of December, a release date which doesn’t generally yield massive opening weekends but instead the holidays allow films to display long legs. That’s exactly what Night at the Museum did with it’s $250.9 million domestic total, which was more than eight times the opening weekend. That kind of longevity will not happen for the latest Museum, but a much larger opening will help it keep pace. Ben Stiller’s latest should debut to a nice $60 million four day start.

Meanwhile, Star Trek held extraordinarily well in the face of direct competition. The $3 million it earned on Thursday was only 4% lower than Wednesday. The only downside for the sci-fi reboot is the loss of most of its IMAX screens on Friday to Night at the Museum 2. Still, strong word-of-mouth should carry it to $30 million over the long weekend for a fantastic running total of $192 million.

Angels & Demons has been slipping at a faster rate than Star Trek during the week so it should end up fourth for the weekend. The $2.6 million tally on Thursday brought the opening week total to $60.1 million, which is 41% lower than its predecessor’s first seven days. No one was expecting Angels & Demons to earn as much because of a less appealing storyline and mixed reactions to The Da Vinci Code scaring away many moviegoers. The good news for A&D is the second weekend drop-off should be less severe. Look for $28 million over the weekend for $88 million in 10 days.

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Box Office Data Source: Box Office Mojo

‘Star Trek’ Blasts Off, ‘Wolverine’ Implodes

Star Trek was given a very warm reception in its nationwide launch. Since its Thursday night debut, the sci-fi reboot collected a galactic $79.2 million ($75.2 million Friday-Sunday) from 3,849 theaters. This is easily the largest start ever for the long running franchise, more than doubling the previous benchmark set by Star Trek: First Contact.

Instead of continuing with sequels, Paramount made a wise move by deciding to reboot the series. The franchise lost most of its popularity and cultural relevancy after Star Trek: Nemesis bombed with both audiences and critics seven years ago so the only real solution was to go back to the basics. It’s a strategy that has paid dividends to two other franchises, James Bond and Batman. Both of those franchises were recovering from audience and critical backlash before the studios decided to, in essence, start over. Batman and Robin is one of the most infamous bombs of all time, but Batman Begins rejuvenated the franchise, and its sequel,The Dark Knight , is the highest grossing film of the decade. Casino Royale, the Bond franchise reboot, was also a big success.

Star Trek broke a few records as well. It’s, by far, the largest opening ever for the second weekend of May. The industry typically avoids releasing high profile tentpole films on this weekend to give the other early summer films some breathing room. The conventional approach that Hollywood has taken in the past is to release a tentpole on the first weekend of May and then relatively inexpensive counter-programming on the second weekend of the month. Then, on the third weekend, another high profile tentpole is released because by that time the early May blockbuster has exhausted through most of its audience. 2007 is a classic example of this:

1st weekend of May 2007:
Spider-Man 3 (tentpole)

2nd weekend:
28 Weeks Later (counter-programming)
Georgia Rule (counter-programming)

3rd weekend:
Shrek the Third (tentpole)

The few times that Hollywood has broken this rule generally results in a dud as evidenced by 2000’s Battlefield Earth, 2006’s Poseidon, and last year’s Speed Racer. Judging by this history, it would seem as though Paramount took a huge gamble releasing Star Trek on this weekend. It turned out to be a smart move, though, with X-Men Origins: Wolverine evaporating quickly, and next week’s Angels and Demons will not be as potent as it’s predecessor.

The sci-fi epic broke also broke the record for the widest and highest grossing IMAX release in history. Its $8.5 million launch from 138 screens was enough to soar above The Dark Knight.

Star Trek should continue to live long and prosper in the weeks ahead thanks to stellar word-of-mouth and critical response. This is evidenced by its performance as the weekend progressed. Saturday’s take of $27.2 million was 1% higher than Friday’s $26.9 million, an impressive feat for a fanboy driven feature. Sunday was also strong with its $21.1 million tally, which was down only 23% from Saturday despite the male-skewing film going up against Mother’s Day.

Meanwhile, X-Men Origins: Wolverine took a hit from Captain Kirk and his crew with a 69% tumble for a $26.4 million second weekend. That’s the largest sophomore decline ever for the comic book franchise, but its $129 million 10 day figure is still strong considering most of the characters from the previous films are absent. This also allowed 20th Century Fox to produce the film for a much lower cost than X-Men: The Last Stand. Wolverine should finish with a solid $170 million, strong enough to ensure further spin-offs.

Taking advantage of Mother’s Day, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, dipped only 33% with $10.3 million raising the tally to $30.1 million. With little in the way of direct competition in the weeks ahead, the Matthew McConaughey romantic comedy should display some decent staying power.

Obsessed continues to perform strongly. Down 46% in its third weekend, the Fatal Attraction rip-off made $6.6 million and upped its total to an excellent $56.2 million. 17 Again, spent another weekend in the top five, with $4.2 million in its fourth frame. The Big-like comedy has collected $54 million.

Next Day Air failed to take off in its maiden voyage with a quiet sixth place launch. Opening in only 1,138 theaters, the Summit Entertainment comedy could muster only $4.1 million. Nevertheless, this was on the higher end of industry expectations.

In seventh, Paramount’s drama, The Soloist, held well with a 30% decline, but its $23.8 million total is far from impressive given its pedigree and budget. On the other hand, the distributor continued to see Monsters Vs. Aliens generating solid grosses. After seven weeks the 3-D animated film is still in eighth place and has rang up $186.8 million in ticket sales. A $200 million final total is not out of the question.

Earth became the highest grossing documentary since 2005’s March of the Penguins with its $2.7 million weekend tally, down only 39% in its third weekend. The total for Disney‘s nature film stands at $26.3 million. Rounding out the top ten is another Disney feature, Hannah Montana: The Movie with $2.2 million and an impressive $73.9 million.

In 11th, Fighting bagged $2 million, and it should finish with a nearly identical total to Never Back Down. In the number twelve spot, State of Play continued its steep decline considering its target audience and has only generated $34 million in 17 days. The Russell Crowe film joins the growing list of adult thrillers that have disappointed at the box office this year.

Box Office Data Source: Box Office Mojo