3-D helps lift Transformers to R2.7 billion global haul

2011-07-05 08:19

Los Angeles – The Transformers robots have put their 3-D ticket-price advantage to good use.

Distributor Paramount Pictures estimated yesterday that Transformers: Dark of the Moon pulled in $116.4 million (about R782 million) domestically over the four-day Fourth of July weekend and $181.1 million (about R1.22 billion) since opening last Tuesday night.

Director Michael Bay’s third installment in the sci-fi franchise has added $217 million (about R1.5 billion) overseas, bringing its worldwide total to nearly $400 million (about R2.7 billion).

The studio says 60% of domestic business came from premium-priced 3-D admissions, which cost a few dollars more than 2-D screenings. Overseas, 3-D admissions accounted for 70% of ticket sales.

That’s a good sign for Hollywood’s 3-D business, which had waned as 3-D revenues dipped to 50% or less of the total for some recent releases.

“It proves that for 3-D to be successful, it has to be attached to the right kind of movie. This was this monumental Michael Bay blockbuster, and for something like that, people felt it’s worth the money,” said Paul Dergarabedian, analyst for box-office tracker Hollywood.com.

“It’s all about maintaining good quality. If they see three 3-D movies in a row that look terrible, they’re not going to put the money down again.”

The previous weekend’s No. 1 movie, the animated adventure Cars 2, slipped steeply in its second weekend with $32.1 million (about R216 million) domestically, the movie losing steam more quickly than past features from Disney’s Pixar Animation outfit.

Cars 2 raised its domestic total to $123 million (about R827 million) and topped $200 million (about R1.3 billion) worldwide.

The weekend’s other new wide releases opened back in the pack.

Universal Pictures’ recession romance Larry Crowne opened quietly at No. 4 with $15.7 million (about R106 million) despite the star power of writer-director Tom Hanks and co-star Julia Roberts.

The movie stars Hanks as a downsized retail worker who heads back to school, where he falls for his public-speaking teacher (Roberts).

While Transformers and Cars 2 played to young audiences, the over-35 crowd accounted for 81% of the audience for Larry Crowne.

Movies appealing to older audiences tend to stick around longer in theaters, and Universal executives hope fans will seek out the movie once Fourth of July festivities are behind them.

“For adults who are always preoccupied with barbecues and entertaining and family, my expectations were never greater than this,” said Nikki Rocco, the studio’s head of distribution.

The 20th Century Fox romantic romp Monte Carlo opened a weak No. 6 with $8.8 million (about R59 million).

The movie stars Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy and Leighton Meester as American travellers who get the princess treatment in Monaco after Gomez impersonates a European heiress.

Despite a big start for Dark of the Moon, overall business slipped compared to last Fourth of July weekend.

According to Hollywood.com, domestic revenues Friday to Monday came in at $239 million (about R1.61 billion), down 4.5% from a year ago, when The Twilight Saga: Eclipse opened with $83.6 million (about R562 million) and The Last Airbender debuted with $51.8 million (about R348 million).

Skeptics felt the Transformers franchise had lost much of its luster after the new sequel pulled in far less money on opening day than its predecessor.

Dark of the Moon launched with $37.7 million (about R253 million) domestically last Wednesday, down 39% from the first day gross of $62 million (about R417) for 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

But Dark of the Moon has held up better day by day than Revenge of the Fallen, closing the revenue gap between the two.

After just over six days in theatres, the new movie still is well behind the $200.1 million (about R1.35 billion) domestic haul that Revenge of the Fallen managed in only five days.

Dark of the Moon has far better reviews and probably is drawing more-favourable audience word-of-mouth than Revenge of the Fallen, which was hated by critics and was a disappointment to many fans, despite the movie’s $400 million (about R2.7 billion) domestic finish and $800 million (about R5.4 billion) global total.

“People didn’t like No. 2 very well,” said Don Harris, head of distribution for Paramount.

“You had to get the word going that this movie is a lot better than No. 2.

“What you had was that people were lowering their expectations at the beginning.

“... We might have started at a place significantly behind where No. 2 was, but as each day went on, we’ve played better than we anticipated.”

Estimated ticket sales for last Friday through yesterday at US and Canadian theatres, according to Hollywood.com.

Where available, latest international numbers are also included. Final domestic figures will be released today.

1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon, $116.4 million (about R782 million) and (about R1.5 billion international).

2. Cars 2, $32.1 million (about R216 million) and (about R164 million international).

3. Bad Teacher, $17.6 million (about R118 million).

4. Larry Crowne, $15.7 million (about R106 million).

5. Super 8, $9.5 million (about R64 million).

6. Monte Carlo, $8.8 million (about R59 million).

7. Green Lantern, $8 million (about R54 million).

8. Mr. Popper’s Penguins, $6.9 million (about R46 million).

9. Bridesmaids, $4.4 million (about R30 million) and (about R48 million international).

10. Midnight in Paris, $4.3 million (about R29 million). 

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