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Weekend Wrap-Up for July 6-8, 2007

By David Mumpower

July 8, 2007

But we don't want to be red shirts!

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If a tentpole release can't break Spider-Man 3's $151.1 million weekend record in three days, what's the next logical step? Open on a Monday evening and give it almost seven days. This strategy was the one employed by Paramount for Transformers and it worked just as expected. The weird combination of Michael Bay explosions and Hasbro merchandising earned an estimated $67.6 million over the weekend, but this will not be the number you hear trumpeted by the studio. The one they will be selling is its six and a half day total. That number sounds a lot better, since it's $152.5 million, giving Transformers one of the best weeks in box office history.

What went right for Transformers? Pretty much everything. Ever since the short teaser showed a Martian probe getting destroyed by a Decepticon, buzz for Transformers has been deafening. Paramount capitalized on the excitement by maximizing the potential holiday week revenue possibilities, opening the movie on Monday night at 8 p.m. This is something that hadn't been done at the box office for a movie of this scale since the early 1940s. This daring release pattern accomplished its goal, with movie audiences rushing out to see CGI representations of their beloved Autobots. Transformers earned $36 million in its first 36 hours, then followed up that record-breaking success for Tuesday box office by anchoring the largest July 4th day of box office ever. Transformers' $29.1 million on that day was over half of the overall top ten's $57.9 million.




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Box office analysts kept waiting for the moment when Transformers would lose its momentum. They're still waiting. Whereas most summer releases have started off with scintillating debuts then quickly dropped off, Optimus Prime's live-action debut showed sensational holdover appeal throughout the week, confounding expected box office behavior for such a fanboy-driven title. The end result is that Transformers is already the sixth most successful release of 2007 and it will surpass Wild Hogs for fifth place in a couple of days. The only question now is where does Transformers go from here? Critics are split on the project. It currently stands with a rotten rating of 56% at RottenTomatoes, but another few positive reviews would swing it to fresh. Fan reception has been largely positive. Some people have questioned the dialogue, but hey, it is a Michael Bay film. Comments about the special effects have been mostly glowing, and those are really the central drawing point of the movie. Many are going so far as to say this is the most impressive display of technology since Terminator 2: Judgment Day's T-1000. At this point, Transformers appears likely to escape 2007 tentpole release movie behavior by showing solid legs. A box office total in excess of $300 million is a distinct possibility.

The rest of the top ten is nowhere near as sexy to discuss. After the Tuesday releases of the two new titles for the week, nothing much changed on a daily basis. Ratatouille comfortably nestled into second place with the release of Transformers, and it remained there for the body of the July 4th holiday period. It earned an estimated $29 million this weekend, demonstrating impressing staying power from last weekend's $47.0 million. Only a week later, the project no longer looks to be the biggest disappointment in Pixar's brief but illustrious history. Its 38% decline combined with robust weekdays has taken it over the $100 million threshold after only ten days. Remy the master chef's movie has current box office of $109.5 million, which puts it in range of the $117.0 million Cars had earned in the same time frame. Given how much easier it is to sell a movie about cute toy cars as opposed to a rat serving fine cuisine, it's safe to move Ratatouille off the endangered list of struggling summer blockbusters. This is an unexpectedly quick reversal of fortune for the film.


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