Transformers: Dark of the Moon box office: Michael Bay’s critically panned mega-budget mega-hit trailing equally panned predecessor in the domestic market
*July 1–4 weekend box office: Featuring Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley (replacing Megan Fox), and Josh Duhamel, the third entry in Michael Bay’s critically excoriated big-screen franchise, the mega-budget 3D actioner Transformers: Dark of the Moon – a.k.a. Transformers 3 – grossed $115.9 million from 4,088 North American (U.S. and Canada only) theaters over the four-day July 4 weekend according to final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
*Domestic total of this DreamWorks/Paramount release after six days (including $13.5 million from Tuesday late-night screenings at 2,700 3D locations): $180.7 million.
Earlier last week, pundits had been expecting $195 million; following the Tuesday previews, expectations plummeted to $175 million. If one is to believe Paramount, the studio was expecting $155–$165 million in the first six days.
*For comparison’s sake: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the widely lambasted second installment in the Transformers franchise, earned $214.9 million (about $225 million today) in its first six days in late June 2009 – without the assistance of late-night sneak previews, revenue-boosting 3D ticket prices, or the 4th of July holiday.
*Here’s another comparison: In its first six days out (June 30–July 5), Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, starring Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst, took in $180.1 million back in 2004 – without factoring in inflation and without 3D surcharges.
Sturdier legs than Revenge of the Fallen?
*Now, claims that Dark of the Moon is holding up better than Revenge of the Fallen give a warped view of the two movies’ box office performances: Revenge of the Fallen’s Day 6, for instance, was a non-holiday Monday. That helps to explain its 54 percent drop-off rate relative to the day before – vs. Dark of the Moon‘s 41 percent drop on July 4. In fact, once one factors in inflation and 3D surcharges, on Day 6 Revenge of the Fallen likely sold almost as many tickets as Dark of the Moon. (3D premiums can add up to 40 percent to the price of movie tickets.)
*There’s more: Some pundits are claiming that Dark of the Moon – which collected 60 percent of its domestic take from 3D locations – is proof that 3D is here to stay at least for some types of movies. That could be. However, one should remember that no less than 70 percent of the theaters screening Transformers 3 are 3D-equipped. In that context, the 60 percent share looks far less impressive.
Lastly, Transformers 3 or no, this year’s Fourth of July weekend revenues were down an estimated 4.5 percent compared to last year, when the two big titles were David Slade’s romantic fantasy/adventure The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and M. Night Shyamalan’s fantasy adventure The Last Airbender.
Dark of the Moon movie cast
Also in the Transformers: Dark of the Moon cast: Patrick Dempsey, Tyrese Gibson, Oscar winner Frances McDormand (Fargo, 1996), two-time nominee John Malkovich (Places in the Heart, 1984; In the Line of Fire, 1993), John Turturro, Alan Tudyk, and Ken Jeong.
In addition to the voices of Hugo Weaving, Robert Foxworth, Peter Cullen, and Star Trek veteran Leonard Nimoy as Sentinel Prime.
Tom Hanks & Julia Roberts’ Larry Crowne bombs
In other box office news, the Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts vehicle Larry Crowne opened – at no. 4 – with a measly $15.7 million from 2,973 theaters over the four-day 4th of July weekend, according to studio estimates. The Tom Hanks-directed romantic comedy will have trouble matching its $30 million budget at the domestic box office – let alone recouping it.
Nia Vardalos, Hanks’ Larry Crowne co-writer, hasn’t been very lucky since her 2002 sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Connie and Carla cumed at $8 million in the U.S. and Canada in 2004; I Hate Valentine’s Day took in a minuscule $11,004 in 2009; and now comes the widely lambasted Larry Crowne.
Faring even worse, Monte Carlo, starring teen idol and reported Justin Bieber paramour Selena Gomez, drew in only $8.8 million from 2,743 sites in its first four days out. The romantic comedy cost a reported $20 million. Katie Cassidy, Leighton Meester, and Cory Monteith costar.
If studio estimates are correct, John Lasseter’s Cars 2 suffered a bigger second-weekend box office drop than previous Pixar/Disney features: Down 60 percent over the three-day weekend. After adding $32.1 up to July 4, Cars 2 has pulled in a total of $123 million domestically.
July 1 evening:
More comparisons: including previews, Dark of the Moon has grossed $162.1 million after five days. Without 3D surcharges, in 2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen collected $200.1 million (about $209.5 million today). In 2007, the original Transformers pulled in $133.3 million (about $148.5 million today), including previews. In other words, Dark of the Moon has sold way fewer tickets than Revenge of the Fallen, and is behind the original Transformers as well in number of tickets sold.
Also worth noting: Dark of the Moon has had the biggest opening weekend of 2011, having surpassed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’ $90.2 million.
Dark of the Moon cost a reported $195 million, in addition to marketing/distribution expenses.
Overseas, Dark of the Moon has grossed $210 million, behind only On Stranger Tides among 2011 releases. The top two markets were South Korea ($28 million; a local record) and Russia ($22 million). As per Box Office Mojo, in addition to South Korea Transformers 3 broke opening-weekend records in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Peru and Panama. It’s unclear whether those are attendance records or box office records; if the latter, they haven’t been adjusted for inflation, exchange-rate fluctuations.
The biggest Wednesday ever (not accounting for inflation) belongs to David Slade’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner. Next in line are Revenge of the Fallen, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Spider-Man 2.
Bad Teacher box office
June 24–26 weekend box office: Starring Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, Jason Segel, and Lucy Punch, Jake Kasdan’s R-rated Bad Teacher landed on the no. 2 spot at the North American box office this weekend according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
A Sony release, Bad Teacher grossed an estimated $31 million from 3,049 locations, averaging a solid $10,167 per theater. Critics, however, weren’t exactly impressed with the movie’s foul-mouthed shenanigans: Bad Teacher has a paltry 28 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics.”
Overseas, Bad Teacher collected $6.2 million in Germany and a total of $18.3 million in 24 markets. Bad Teacher cost a reported $19 million.
At the domestic box office, Bad Teacher boasted the third-highest opening for a Cameron Diaz vehicle*, trailing only the two Charlie’s Angels movies: Charlie’s Angels took in $40.1 million in 2000; Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle drew $37.6 million in 2003. A year ago, Knight and Day, co-starring Tom Cruise, opened with a disappointing $20.1 million.
* Obviously, not including the animated Shrek movies or movies in which Diaz has what amounts to a secondary role, e.g., The Green Hornet.
Trailing Cars 2 and Bad Teacher, Martin Campbell-Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern collected $18.4 million at the North American box office. The adventure/sci-fier was down 65 percent compared to its opening weekend. Green Lantern has collected $89.3 million domestically thus far, in addition to $29.4 million overseas.
Cars 2 box office: Internationalized sequel strong overseas
June 25: After getting the international treatment with races in the United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan – no Small Town USA as in the 2006 Cars – Cars 2 opened remarkably well overseas. Directed by John Lasseter (with co-director Brad Lewis), Cars 2 collected $42.9 million at 18 markets. According to distributor Walt Disney – as reported at Box Office Mojo – that is more than twice what Cars earned on its opening weekend.
What is left unsaid is that: a) ticket prices are higher than five years ago b) Cars 2 has the revenue-boosting 3D surcharge c) the US dollar isn’t exactly at its strongest.
Unfortunately, studios opt not to report the actual number of tickets their movies have sold. Yet, I must admit that Cars 2 should easily surpass Cars’ $217.9 million earnings from abroad and it should sell many more tickets as well.
The poorly received (by US critics) 3D animated feature topped the charts in Mexico ($8.1 million), Brazil ($7.6 million), and Australia ($5.2 million). In Italy, where some of the action is set, it took in $5.7 million. [Addendum: Cars 2 pulled in a solid $66 million in North America on its debut weekend. That’s considerably more than most pundits were expecting last week, though less than the $68 million Disney had estimated on Sunday.]
Directed by John Lasseter (with co-director Brad Lewis), and featuring the voices of Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Bonnie Hunt, and Emily Mortimer, among others, Cars 2 has a mediocre 44 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes‘ top critics. For comparison’s sake: The original Cars got a 73 percent rating.
A couple more comparisons: Toy Story 3 opened with $110.3 million a year ago. The original Cars opened with $60.1 million in June 2006. That would represent approximately $72 million today – and without Cars 2‘s revenue-boosting 3D surcharges. About 40 percent of Cars 2‘s box office gross came from 3D houses. However modest a percentage, the 3D surcharge gives the sequel an advantage all the same.
In addition to its North American take, Cars 2 has collected $42.9 million overseas. Millions more will pour in as brats all over the world pester their parents, relatives, and neighbors for Cars 2 merchandise.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Cars 2 had a $200 million budget.
Kung Fu Panda 2‘s international take passed the $300 million milestone a couple of days ago. Its overseas total currently stands at $304.9 million. Worldwide total: $455.1 million.
Chiefly thanks to the performance of Cars 2, North American box office revenues are supposed to be up 40 percent compared to last year, when Toy Story 3 earned $59 million on its second weekend out, Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups had a solid $40 million debut, and the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz vehicle Knight and Day opened “modestly” with $20 million. In any case, this late June weekend will apparently be one of those rare “up” box office weekends so far this year. See, it’s all about offering audiences Good Movies and Original Stories.
Green Lantern box office: Ryan Reynolds superhero trailing Batman and Thor
June 17–19 weekend box office: Starring Ryan Reynolds in a -tight green suit, and featuring Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Angela Bassett, and Tim Robbins, in addition to the voices of Michael Clarke Duncan and Geoffrey Rush, the Green Lantern movie adaptation directed by Martin Campbell (of the box office hit Casino Royale and the box office bomb Edge of Darkness) took in $52.7 million at the North American box office this weekend, according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
Considering that most pundits were expecting the Green Lantern DC Comics big-screen version to collect around $60–$65 million, the above figure – which includes $3.4 million earned at Thursday midnight screenings – is a major disappointment. A comics’ superhero glut, perhaps? If so, it’s up to Chris Evans’ Captain America: The First Avenger to use his red-white-and-blue shield to unglut things.
For comparison’s sake: X-Men: First Class earned $55.1 million a couple of weeks ago, while Thor grossed $65.7 million in early May. In 2008, The Incredible Hulk collected $55.4 million (approx. $61 million today) while Iron Man brought in $98.6 million (approx. $108 million today). In 2005, Fantastic Four drew in $56.1 million (approx. $69 million today) and Batman Begins $48.7 million (approx. $60 million today). In 2003, Daredevil earned $40.3 million (approx. $53 million today).
Green Lantern is clearly at the lower end of the box office spectrum here, especially when considering that 45 percent of its revenues originated from 3D houses, which charge a premium that may go as high as 40 percent compared to 2D venues. Of the aforementioned titles, only Thor had the advantage of the 3D boost, which represented approximately 60 percent of the film’s take on its debut weekend.
Green Lantern will find it all but impossible to recover its reported $200 million production budget at the North American box office. That’s where the international market may come to the rescue – though in this particular case, it remains to be seen whether that’ll happen. Green Lantern has grossed an estimated $17 million internationally.
Behind only Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern, J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 was the no. 2 movie at the North American box office this weekend (June 17-19), collecting $21.25 million (down 40 percent) according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
Directed by Mark S. Waters, Jim Carrey’s Mr. Popper’s Penguins pulled in a mid-level $18.2 million at no. 3 on its opening weekend. That’s pretty much on a par with Carrey’s latest comedies.
For comparison’s sake: Carrey’s Yes Man, featuring Bradley Cooper and Zooey Deschanel, earned $18.26 million (approximately $20 million today) and went on to gross $97.7 million in 2008. Fun with Dick and Jane, with Tea Leoni, drew in $14.4 million (approximately $18 million today) and cumed at $110.9 million in 2005. On higher ground, Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events pulled in $30.1 million (approximately $38 million today) and cumed at $118.6 million in late 2004/early 2005.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins cost a reported $55 million.
Super 8 box office: Overperforming domestically
June 10–12 weekend box office: If studio estimates are correct, J.J. Abrams’ Super 8, a Spielbergian horror flick co-produced by Steven Spielberg himself, performed better than expected at the North American box office this weekend, raking in $38 million – including $1.5 million from Thursday sneak/midnight screenings – at 3,379 locations, according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
Starring Elle Fanning, Kyle Chandler, and Noah Emmerich, Super 8 averaged a solid – though hardly outstanding – $10,950 per-theater. Three years ago, Cloverfield, a horror flick co-produced by Abrams and directed by Matt Reeves, opened (in January) with $40.1 million, averaging $11,744 per site. Cloverfield went on to gross $170 million worldwide. Also, in August 2009 Neill Blomkamp’s extremely well-received (and more adult-oriented) horror-sci-fier District 9 opened with $37.35 million, averaging $12,251 per location. District 9 went on to gross $210 million worldwide.
Even without taking inflation into account, Super 8 has taken off at a slower pace than either Cloverfield or District 9. Unless Abrams’ film gets strong word-of-mouth, it seems unlikely Super 8 will match the performances of either one of the two aforementioned films – even though it has more at stake.
Cloverfield and District 9 reportedly cost $25 million and $30 million, respectively; Paramount claims Super 8 cost $50 million – though many are skeptical about that seemingly much-too-modest figure. Internationally, Super 8 has taken in $6.7 million in a handful of territories. Worldwide total: $44.7 million.
Starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Lucas Till, Rose Byrne, January Jones, Kevin Bacon, and Nicholas Hoult, X-Men: First Class scored $25 million in second place at North American box office this weekend (June 10-12), according to estimates found at Box Office Mojo.
Despite its relatively modest opening and the fact that the Matthew Vaughn-directed adventure-sci-fier held up well throughout the week, X-Men: First Class was down 55 percent from last weekend. For comparison’s sake: Down 69 percent, X-Men Origins: Wolverine took in $26 million on its second weekend two years ago, while the original X-Men was down 57 percent.
X-Men: First Class’ domestic total: $98.9 million. It’ll surely pass the $100 million milestone on Monday. Worldwide: $223.1 million. Cost: $160 million.
See also: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts – ‘solid’ or wobbly domestic debut?
Cameron Diaz Bad Teacher image: Gemma LaMana | Columbia Pictures.
Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern image: Warner Bros. | DC Comics.
Kyle Chandler Super 8 image: François Duhamel | Paramount Pictures.
Josh Duhamel Transformers: Dark of the Moon image: Mark Fellman | Paramount Pictures.