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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Saturday and Sunday were powerful days for Dark of the Moon, and the five-day gross for the effects-filled feature finished at $162.1 million, or $37.9 million less than the $200 million captured by Revenge of the Fallen. Considering how far away the third film was from the second after opening day, this catch up has to be considered a big win for Paramount. Michael Bay has delivered another summertime brain dead film, but this one is obviously a little better than the second film (but then I could hook up a camera to my dog's collar and the end product would be Oscar worthy versus Revenge of the Fallen). Dark of the Moon was 38% fresh with 74 positive reviews out of 196; Revenge of the Fallen was 20% fresh with 47 positive out of a possible 234 reviews.

While it is a huge box office haul, we also have to remember that Dark of the Moon is the first Transformers film shot in 3D, so there would be the price increase on many of the tickets sold. Finally, let me mention briefly who the movie was really made for – overseas moviegoers. Following the world premiere (in Moscow of all places), Transformers: Dark of the Moon, earned an amazing $372 million over five days, the third best ever (behind only Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Spider-Man 3). Like the last Pirates of the Caribbean, this piece of the Transformers franchise is going to likely be a worldwide billion dollar earner for the studio.


Cars 2 finishes second this weekend, and the news is surprisingly bad for the Pixar feature. After opening to a solid $66.1 million last weekend, Cars 2 gets lambasted by the younger-skewing Transformers this weekend. The Pixar sequel earned $25.1 million and was off a dramatic 62% compared to the last frame. The original Cars managed to hold onto top spot in its second frame in June of 2006, earning $33 million and dropping only 44% - despite a $60.1 million debut. Cars 2 would have lost a bucketload of 3D screens this weekend to Transformers, but this drop is bigger than that one excuse. Pixar consistently delivers quality – but failed to do that with Cars 2, and the 35% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes drives that point home. Yes, the Cinemascore was an A-, but between that and the Transformers score, I think you can see how that process fails. After starting ahead of the original last weekend, Cars 2 has fallen to the back of the pack this weekend – Friday's box office was $7.9 million for the sequel, where the original earned $9.2 million over its second weekend.

Like the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film, Cars 2 stunk of "cash in" from the beginning and is really the first time I've felt the Disney influence on a Pixar film. The Cars merchandise is renowned for its saleability, and I think the theory was that any Cars film would be big business for Disney and Pixar. Unfortunately, it will be big business for the studio, but definitely not the billion dollar winner that Toy Story 3 was or even the half-billion winner that WALL-E was. With this drop, I doubt that Cars 2 will beat what its predecessor earned ($244 million); however, international grosses will help make this profitable versus its bloated $200 million production cost. So far, Cars 2 has earned $116 million.

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