Tranformers 2 Reboots The Summer Box Office
By John Hamann
June 28, 2009
After a few weekends of summer movies left us feeling like we had a Hangover, Michael Bay and his merry band of robots rocked the box office this weekend, taking in an amazing five-day total of $201.2 million. It leaves us with the following question: If we know it sucks, why do we go anyway?
The box office is all about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen this weekend, as the super-sized sequel absolutely dominated, maybe even more than expected. David Mumpower has recapped its opening success nicely, but here is the Coles Notes version: Revenge of the Fallen actually got started late Tuesday, where it amassed the third biggest midnight tally ever at $16 million, coming in behind only The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2, two of the biggest films of all time. By the time all the cash was counted at the end of Wednesday, Revenge of the Fallen (sounds like a Pirates of the Caribbean title, no?) had earned an amazing $60.6 million, setting the record for an opening Wednesday. As expected, Transformers 2 plunged 53% on its second day to $28.6 million, giving it a two-day running tally of just short of $90 million - and the weekend hadn't even started yet. As BOP's Tim Briody reported yesterday, the Friday figure tallied at $36.7 million, a strong but not revolutionary number. It was up 28% compared to the Thursday, where fellow Wednesday opener Spider-Man 2 rose 36% from $23.8 million on Thursday to $32.5 million on Friday. This tells us that despite the huge Wednesday, the Paramount juggernaut was slipping into Spider-Man 2's box office pattern, exceeding it slightly in overall dollars, but the huge numbers were trailing off somewhat. Revenge of the Fallen was $5 million ahead of the Spidey sequel on Thursday, and then only $4 million ahead on Friday. I'm hesitant to say that the death of Michael Jackson on Thursday could have contributed to this, but it could be.
Transformers 2 continued to show solid numbers over the remainder of the weekend, as the final Friday-to-Sunday figure came in at $112 million, and the five-day total is an amazing $201.2 million. That's the second-best five day opening in history, behind only The Dark Knight's $203 million last year. To say that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen has saved the summer box office is a bit of an understatement, as a tentpole was desperately needed, not only to provide a big uptick over last year, but to also help market some of the other big, upcoming films. In-theater marketing is still the big-ticket ad; trailers, posters and the rest keep movie-going momentum going. Consider Paramount's G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra. This film is going to get a huge awareness push moving forward thanks to Transformers 2.
For Michael Bay, this is easily his most successful film of his career, which has been littered with these critically-reviled action films. The original Transformers was his former biggest. The original film in the series opened oddly enough on a Tuesday (after having what was basically a sneak Monday), the day before the July 4th holiday. It also had a huge opening day with $8.8 million over the soft opening on Monday, followed by a $27.9 million on Tuesday. The original Transformers earned $155 million over its first seven days, the same amount the sequel earned over about 3.5 days. The bizarre thing about using this odd release pattern is that Transformers was able to avoid a 50% drop throughout its entire run. That was a huge win for Paramount, as most loud action films that receive poor reviews drop badly over their subsequent weekends. Because of this, Transformers went on to earn an amazing $319.2 million from its domestic run. It earned even more overseas, and finished with a worldwide total of over $700 million, and then went on to earn another $300 million from DVD sales. The production cost of $150 million was shared amongst a number of players, including Paramount, DreamWorks, Hasbro, and Di Bonaventura Pictures. The same production companies came out for the sequel, but this time spent $200 million plus. Writing credits for both films go to names that have appeared more than a few times in this column so far this summer – Kurtzman and Orci, as these two wrote and executive produced the Star Trek reboot and were the executive producers of last weekend's winner The Proposal. Talk about having a good summer.