Weekend Wrap-Up

Transformers 3 Box Office: Less That Meets the Eye

By John Hamann

July 3, 2011

Am I talking to Malkovich or John Cusack?

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Michael Bay laid another golden turd this weekend – his zillionth – as the effects maestro finds a way again to turn a not very good film into a financial triumph. If you are like me, and would like to see one of these films fail, stop reading now. Bay has put together another financial winner with Transformers: Dark of the Moon (or Fear The Pink Floyd Lawsuit); however, the good news is that this one isn't a big as the last, so maybe people are leaving this one to the 13-year-olds. Other openers included Larry Crowne with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, and Monte Carlo with Selena Gomez. You know it might be a good weekend to skip going to a movie when Monte Carlo is the review-winner of the weekend.

It is honestly quite painful for me to celebrate another Transformers victory. After the first two films have earned $1.6 billion worldwide, the idea that these films are "dumbing down America" is no longer apt, as the Michael Bay sickness has spread around the globe. Transformers: Dark of the Moon did it again this weekend, earning $162.1 million since opening on Wednesday (or Tuesday night). It started with $5.5 million in midnight 3D sneaks, and then added $37.7 million on Wednesday for a 24-hour first day total of $43.2 million. It was at this point we knew that Michael Bay was going to deliver another solid hit for Paramount with the Transformers franchise, but we also knew the honeymoon was over, as the crossover audience for the second film had been reduced to fanboys and effects-driven audiences. Transformers 2 earned $62 million over its first 24 hour cycle, which means the third film did about 30% less than the second over opening day. The question now is whether the trend would continue.


The Thursday gross for Transformers: Dark of the Moon kept that trend alive versus Revenge of the Fallen. The second Transformers movie earned $29.1 million on Thursday, where the third film earned a much smaller $21.5 million – the 30% separation was shrinking, but the drop off is noticeable. The score for Wednesdays and Thursdays combined now sat at $91.1 million for Revenge of the Fallen, and $64.7 million for Dark of the Moon. The Thursday take for Dark of the Moon was only $2 million ahead of the first Transformers film.

With two days of data in on Dark of the Moon, the Friday gross was a little more predictable. A 30% gain from Thursday was likely in the cards, and it played out in the numbers, as Transformers 3 took in Friday gross of $32.9 million. That's only about $4 million less than Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's $36.7 million Friday, so you can see the third film was really starting to catch up to the second. Why? Those fanboys that came out on Wednesday and Thursday night provided an A Cinemascore for Dark of the Moon, a fact that was picked up by the press on Thursday night. Cinemascores for these types of films are useless (Revenge of the Fallen had a B+, and if you've seen it...), as fans of the franchise are used to this garbage – enough to keep coming back for more. However, word of mouth within the fanbase was obviously pretty good, which may have attracted more audiences on Friday. Cumulative grosses through Friday stood at $97.6 million for Dark of the Moon, and $127.6 million for Revenge of the Fallen.

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