Box Office Guru

Box Office Guru Wrapup: Transformers 2 Generates Explosive Box Office

The Proposal and The Hangover come in at distant 2nd and 3rd.

by | June 28, 2009 | Comments

This weekend Robots ruled the box office as the highly-anticipated action sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen generated the second biggest opening in history with a gargantuan $201.2M in its first five days, according to studio estimates, sending the overall marketplace to its highest gross of the year. The eye-popping figure included $112M over the traditional Friday-to-Sunday period plus an additional $89.2M since its Wednesday launch. Playing ultrawide in 4,234 theaters including 169 IMAX screens, the Paramount release averaged a stunning $26,453 over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a gigantic $47,531 over five days.

The only other film to ever gross more in its first five days was last summer’s The Dark Knight which hauled in a slightly better $203.8M from 4,366 venues. The first Transformers bowed to $155.4M in 6.5 days and needed 12.5 days to break the double-century mark on its way to a $319.2M finish.


The Michael Bay-directed pic set a number of other box office milestones. It set new records for a June opener, beating the $93.7M of 2004’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and for a live-action film from Paramount exceeding the $100.1M of last summer’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In fact, Shia Labeof hopes to become the first star with $300M+ blockbusters over three straight summers with Transformers, Crystal Skull, and Fallen. The new Optimus Prime adventure also set a new five-day debut record for a Wednesday opener easily beating the $152.4M of Spider-Man 2 from 2004.

The onslaught began at 12:01am on Wednesday with an explosive $60.6M opening day haul which included over $16M in business from late Tuesday’s post-midnight shows. It was the second largest opening day for any film after the $67.2M for Dark Knight which bowed on a Friday. Grosses dropped 53% to $28.6M on Thursday, rose 29% to $36.8M on Friday, and climbed again by 10% to $40.6M on Saturday. Paramount is being aggressive with its Sunday estimate of $34.6M projecting just a 15% dip from Saturday. Final grosses will be reported on Monday afternoon. The Friday-to-Sunday tally is the seventh best of all-time and the largest for a film not debuting on a Friday.


The new Transformers brought back the main cast members of the first installment including Labeouf and Megan Fox who have become even bigger draws with teens and young adults over the past two years. Fearing being crushed, competing studios left the whole month of June open when it came to big action tentpoles allowing Fallen to be the only action event film out there. A massive marketing campaign by the studio and its tie-in partners drove awareness for the product placement-friendly flick sky high. Critics were brutal and tossed every insult they could at the behemoth, but ticket buyers were more interested in two and a half hours of mindless popcorn escapism.

Overseas audiences were crazy for robot action too as the second Transformers flick has pulled in a stunning $181.6M since its launch a week ago making for a jaw-dropping $382.8M worldwide cume which already makes it the second biggest global blockbuster for the whole year trailing just Angels & Demons which has collected $467.7M in seven weeks. A whopping 72% of that take has come from outside of North America. Fallen is playing more evenly with domestic accounting for 53%.


A sizable drop is expected for Transformers next weekend, but with no effects-driven tentpoles scheduled to open until the July 15th launch of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the domestic haul could very well shoot past $350M in the weeks ahead.

Sandra Bullock followed in second place with what could become the top-grossing film of her career, The Proposal. The romantic comedy hit dropped a reasonable 45% in its second weekend to an estimated $18.5M giving Buena Vista a solid $69.1M in only ten days. Co-starring Ryan Reynolds, the phony engagement flick should be able to finish in the vicinity of $125M surpassing the $121.2M of 1994’s Speed to be the highest earner for the actress. Admission prices have risen a steep 75% in the last 15 years so Proposal will not sell as many tickets though.


With robot fights hitting the multiplexes, the leggy comedy sensation The Hangover suffered its largest decline yet. Dropping 36%, still a good hold, the R-rated laugher grossed an estimated $17.2M lifting the cume to $183.2M. Hangover is set to smash through the $200M mark over next weekend’s Independence Day holiday frame.

Carl and Russell overtook Kirk and Spock for the year’s box office crown as the animated smash Up sailed past the quarter-billion mark. The tenth toon from Disney and Pixar dropped 45% to an estimated $13M in its fifth weekend to boost the amazing cume to $250.2M making it 2009’s top-grossing title. Optimus Prime will steal away that prize later this week, but Up still has hopes of surpassing the $300M milestone and now sits at number 47 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters behind Night at the Museum‘s $250.9M. The flying house flick is running only slightly behind the pace of 2003’s Finding Nemo which banked $14M in its fifth round for a cume of $254M.


The frame’s only other new wide opener landed in fifth place. The family drama My Sister’s Keeper starring Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin bowed to an estimated $12M from 2,606 locations for a moderate average of $4,616 per theater. The PG-13 film based on the best-selling book about a girl fighting leukemia earned good reviews and played to a more female audience and those in the market for a good cry.

Sony placed its pair of not-so-stellar performers in the sixth and seventh slots. The Jack Black-Michael Cera comedy Year One collapsed 70% in its second weekend to an estimated $5.8M for a ten-day total of $32.3M. The Denzel Washington-John Travolta hostage pic The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 grossed an estimated $5.4M, down a troubling 55%, to a cume of $53.4M after 17 days. The studio cannot be pleased with these declines.


Paramount’s Star Trek slipped 35% to an estimated $3.6M and boosted its amazing total to $246.2M. Despite the arrival of studio stablemate Transformers, the Enterprise held up impressively. Close behind was Fox’s Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian which fell 55% to an estimated $3.5M giving the sequel $163.2M to date.

The indie pregnancy comedy Away We Go expanded nationally and landed in the top ten for the very first time this weekend. The Focus release widened from 132 to 495 locations grossing an estimated $1.7M which was good enough for the ten spot. Averaging a mild $3,390, the R-rated pic has taken in $4.1M to date and continues to grow thanks to good word-of-mouth, more screens, and a larger ad spend.


On the specialty front, Summit’s critically acclaimed Iraq War thriller The Hurt Locker opened with strength in New York and Los Angeles with an estimated $144,000 from just four sites for a potent $36,000 average. Pic expands on July 10. Miramax debuted its Michelle Pfeiffer period romance Cheri wider in 76 locations and grossed an estimated $408,000 for a mild $5,368 average. Reviews were mixed.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $192.7M which was up 9% from last year when WALL•E opened in the top spot with $63.1M; and up 36% from 2007 when Pixar also ruled when Ratatouille debuted at number one with $47M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya