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Transformers 2 barely beats Ice Age 3 while Public Enemies opens strong. The 4th of July, 2009 weekend box office in review.

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Due to the fact that the top two films (Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) are were nearly tied, I'm ignoring the rankings and just concentrating on the numbers. In the end, Transformers 2 ended up with $42.3 million and Ice Age 3 ended with a three-day gross of $41.6 million. Regardless, it looks like everything did moderately well according to expectations. The big opener of the weekend is Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. At this point, it appears that the third Ice Age film did in five days ($66.7 million) exactly what Ice Age: The Meltdown accomplished in three days ($68.3 million). Granted, the calendar necessitated a Wednesday opening for part 3 (July 4th, not a good day for box office, was on a Saturday this year), and the second Ice Age film opened on March 30th, 2006 with next to no competition. I'm not even going to try to estimate the final domestic gross here, but this is a terrific opening for this sure-to-be-continued Fox franchise.

Transformers 2
's 61.2% drop is bad, but I was expecting quite a bit worse (it seems the general moviegoers aren't as averse to it as the critics and hardcore geek crowd... not a surprise). None the less, it's already at $293 million after twelve days, which is $20 million ahead of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest at the same juncture (The Dark Knight was at $333 million after twelve days). At this point, Transformers 2 is running 7% ahead of Pirates 2 and 13% behind The Dark Knight. Should this continue (and that's highly speculative), than Transformers 2 will end up with a domestic total of $450 million and $469 million.

The other major opener, Public Enemies, had a bigger three-day opening weekend ($25.2 million) than any gangster film outside of The Departed and American Gangster. Plus, its five-day $40.1 million gross is in striking distance of American Gangster's $43 million three-day take. This is Michael Mann's biggest opening and Johnny Depp's third-biggest three-day opening involving Captain Jack Sparrow (behind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Sleepy Hollow). The word of mouth was expectantly mixed (the Cinemascore grade was a B), while the demos were pretty evenly split. It was 53% male/47% female, with a pretty much even number of over-25 and under-25 audience members in attendance. If this film actually cost the $80 million that Universal is claiming, than this should be a solid long run investment for the beleaguered studio. After a run of under performing and/or over budgeted adult, star-driven vehicles (State of Play, Duplicity, The Taking of Pelham 123), this has to be a sigh of relief for those who fear the death of adult counter programming.

The Hangover crossed $205 million and had a $11 million+ weekend in its fifth round (it lost 455 theaters and still only dropped 33%). The Vegas comedy that will not die is now the 8th highest grossing R-rated film of all time (it's just ahead of Terminator 2: Judgment Day) and it should be fifth or sixth place by the end of next weekend. I sincerely doubt that it will pass The Passion of the Christ's $370 million, or even The Matrix Reloaded's $291 million, but ending up number 3 (ahead of Beverly Hills Cop's $234 million) is all but certain at this point. Despite losing most if not all of its 3D screens to Ice Age 3, Up still only dropped 50% in its 6th weekend. It's $264.8 million total just surpassed The Incredibles as Pixar's second-highest domestic grosser of all time. And The Proposal is just $5.7 million shy of the $100 million mark after just three weekends.

The Hurt Locker grossed another $127,000 on nine screens. It will start expanding next weekend and (I think) go wide on July 24th. Away We Go has quietly amassed $6 million as it seems to be the breakout indie of the summer season. X-Men Origins: Wolverine is still trying to reach $180 million and Monsters Vs. Aliens is continuing to try for that $200 million milestone (current respective grosses are $178 million and $196 million). And that's all the news that's fit to print for now. Next weekend should be a comparatively quiet one, with only Bruno and I Love You, Beth Cooper opening wide.

For a rundown of what grossed what over last fourth of July weekend, go here. For a review of last year's 4th of July weekend champion, go here. And for a review of Public Enemies, go here. For thoughts on the rare franchise success of Ice Age, go here. All of this and more can be found at Mendelson's Memos.

Scott Mendelson