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HuffPost Weekend Box Office in Review

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It's close, but no cigar. Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen ended up $2 million behind The Dark Knight for that much-desired five-day box office record. While I'd wager that Paramount may try to bump up that 'estimate' for tomorrow's finals, the estimate itself implies that Transformers 2 only dropped 14% from Saturday to Sunday, which is a bit optimistic. The finals were be interesting, as if the number is up $2 million, Paramount gets that five-day record, but if it drops by about $2 million, it'll lose the bragging rights for the $200 million five-day gross.

Anyway, the days for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen -
Wed - $60.6 million (biggest Wednesday ever)
Thurs - $28.6 million (biggest non-opening Thursday ever)
Friday - $36.8 million (biggest non-opening Friday ever)
Saturday - $40.6 million (awfully swell, but no records here)
Sunday - $34.6 million (also terrific, but no records broken)
Three day opening - $112 million; five-day opening - $201 million.

For the record, that makes a five-day multiplier of 3.32x. This puts it in the lower-rungs of five-day opening weekends, but it's nothing to panic about quite yet (it's smack-dab in between Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and The Matrix Revolutions). Regardless of the long-term playability, the Michael Bay sequel is the second film in history to cross $200 million in five-days. It has the second-largest five-day, six-day, and seven-day totals in history after five days. It has three days to make it to $250 million to match The Dark Knight and five days to match Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Can they tie The Dark Knight's eight-day sprint? To paraphrase the immortal words of Barack Obama and/or Bob the Builder, "No, they can't!". The Dark Knight's eighth-day was the Friday of its second opening weekend, while Transformers 2's eight-day will be July 1st, where it will face the double-whammy of Public Enemies and Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if Ice Age 3 supplants Revenge of the Fallen as number one over the long Fourth-of-July weekend.

Despite my distaste for the movie, and the somewhat predictable nature of its performance, this is a truly huge set of numbers we're dealing with here. And, make no mistake, this is exactly the kind of opening sprint that Paramount is praying for when their eventual Star Trek sequel hits theaters in a few years. We have a solid-opening original that ends up being better-liked than expected by audiences and critics, then has a sequel that EXPLODES out of the gate over its opening weekend. Sound familiar? That's the Batman/Pirates/Bourne/Transformers pattern and Paramount can settle for nothing less as it follows up the successful but way over budget Star Trek film. Of course, the word of mouth on this sequel has been less than stunning, but even the loathed Spider-Man 3 avoided anything larger than a 62% drop (although that was partially due to a complete lack of second-weekend competition). The sheer size of the five-day figure means it'll play better than Spider-Man 3 and/or X-Men: The Last Stand (domestic totals about 2.2x the 3-day opening, which Transformers 2 will equal with a mere $45 million more). We won't know the long-term picture until next weekend is complete, but pay close attention to the earliest weekday numbers. Anything below 10% of the three-day figure for Monday and Tuesday respectively is troubling. Anything approaching 5% or below is a recipe for disaster.

Meanwhile, the rest of the top ten did about as expected. The other opener, My Sister's Keeper ended up being shockingly frontloaded, as it could only parlay a $5 million opening Friday into a $12 million weekend gross (2.35x multiplier). Still, considering the super low profile and withering competition, Warner Bros should be thankful that it opened at all. The Proposal dropped a large, but not fatal, 45% and ended weekend two with a solid $69 million, guaranteeing that this will be Bullock's fifth $100 million grossing picture (and Ryan Reynold's second and second-consecutive $100 million+ grosser after X-Men Origins: Wolverine). The Hangover dropped only 35% in the face of Transformers 2, which pretty much guarantees that the popular comedy will end up in the top ranks of all-time grossing comedies (as well as the front runner at next year's MTV Movie Awards). At $183 million, it's already the 10th highest grossing R-rated film of all time, just $4 million below Gladiator (for R-rated comedies, it's at number 3 behind The Wedding Crashers and Beverly Hills Cop). In less pleasant news, Year One dropped a shocking 70% for a second weekend gross of $5.8 million. In ten days, the critically reviled Harold Ramis 'comedy' has earned only $32 million against a cost of $60 million.

In other news, Pixar's Up passed Star Trek for the (temporary) title of 2009's highest grossing film. It crossed the $250 million mark and will be Pixar's second-highest grossing title by next weekend's end. Of course, it will lose most if not all of its 3D screens to Ice Age 3 on Wednesday (if you recall, this loss was a fatal blow to the still popular Coraline earlier this year). So next weekend will be the one to decide if it's a near $300 million grosser, or a legitimate contender for Finding Nemo's $339 million all-time animated box office crown. Finally, the critically acclaimed Iraq-War action thriller The Hurt Locker opened with $144,000 on four screens ($36,000 per screen). It's a scorching limited-release debut, which is meaningless unless Summit has the money and skill to sell this to a national audience. It's awfully good, but it's not as easily marketable as The Kingdom, and even that only opened to $18 million. Of course, the new ten-Best Picture nominees Oscar ruling means that Summit might just want to save its money for the Oscar campaign.

That's the main news that's fit to print. Tune in next time for the box office fate of Ice Age 3 and Public Enemies, as well as the long-term prognosis for the rock-em sock-em robots sequel (time to be determined since I'm moving during the week and I'll be with in-laws over the holiday weekend). For a recap of The Dark Knight's record three day run (and a general history of the record breaking opening weekend), go here. For a recap of The Dark Knight's $203 million five-day sprint, go here. For previous Transformers 2 box office columns, read about Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday in Mendelson's Memos.

Scott Mendelson