By Mack Chico
Aside from its whopping five-day domestic tally — the second highest of all time — Paramount’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” broke records in several countries overseas, leading to a massive $387.3 million worldwide through Sunday, one of the best global launches ever.
The five-day opening gross of $201.2 million from 4,234 theaters domestically easily eclipsed the $152.4 million earned by “Spider-Man 2,” which previously held the five-day record for a Wednesday launch. And “Transformers 2” nearly matched the best five-day gross of all time: $203.8 million for WB’s “The Dark Knight.”
Overseas, the action tentpole opened to an estimated $162 million, the fourth best international opening of all time, after “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” ($216.3 million), “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” ($193 million) and “Spider-Man 3” ($164.9 million). The sequel’s foreign cume was $186.1 million when factoring in the $24.1 million earned the previous weekend in the U.K. and Japan.
Although the Michael Bay-helmed pic sucked up most of the oxygen at the box office, other pics scored notable numbers. Disney-Pixar’s “Up” surpassed Par’s “Star Trek” to become the year’s highest-grossing title at the domestic B.O. (The film’s cume through Sunday was an estimated $250.2 million, boosted by the added charge for 3-D tickets.)
Warner Bros.’ “The Hangover” passed $200 million at the worldwide B.O. Domestically, it saw $17.2 million from 3,525 for a cume of $183.2 million. Abroad, film earned $10.1 million from 1,250 runs in 29 markets for a cume of $46.2 million and worldwide tally of $229.2 million.
Several specialty titles popped, including Summit Entertainment’s “The Hurt Locker.” Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the film posted a per-screen average of $36,000 as it opened in four theaters in L.A. and New York, grossing an estimated $144,000.
The weekend’s only wide release besides “Revenge of the Fallen” was Cameron Diaz-Abigail Breslin drama “My Sister’s Keeper.” The film saw modest biz in grossing $12 million from 2,606 runs to come in No. 5 for the weekend.
In other holdover action, Fox’s “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” crossed the $200 million mark internationally as it grossed $5.2 million from 4,000 runs in 62 territories for a foreign cume of $202.3 million and worldwide tally of $365.5 million.
Sony continued to see strong international results for “Terminator Salvation,” which grossed $10.1 million for the sesh from 7,470 theaters in 70 markets for a foreign cume of $193.7 million. Accounting for territories where Sony isn’t distributing, pic’s total foreign gross is $219.5 million.
The romantic comedy “The Proposal,” from the Mouse House, continued to click. The Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds starrer dipped 45% to an estimated $18.5 million from 3,058 runs; cume is $69 million. The pic grossed another $7.2 million overseas for the weekend, putting the worldwide cume at $91.7 million in its first 10 days.
On the domestic front, Focus Features’ dramedy “Away We Go” landed in the No. 10 spot in its fourth week, grossing $1.7 million as it expanded into 495 locations for a per-screen average of $3,390 and cume of $3.4 million.
And Woody Allen’s “Whatever Works,” from Sony Pictures Classics, grossed $386,286 in its second frame for a per-screen average of $11,036 and cume of $765,433.
Miramax’s Michelle Pfeiffer period piece “Cheri” grossed $408,000 as it opened on 76 screens for a per-location average of $5,368.
Not having such a good weekend domestically was Sony’s Jack Black-Michael Cera laffer “Year One,” which tumbled 70% in its second frame to $5.8 million for a domestic cume of $32.3 million.
But the big news, of course, is the “Transformers” sequel, the first tentpole since “Dark Knight” to truly rocket into the B.O. stratosphere.
Paramount co-chair Rob Moore said the pic played to a much broader audience than its predecessor, noting that the first time around, males made up 60% of the audience. This time, that number dropped to 54%.
More important to Moore: Despite negative reviews, more than 90% of those polled as they left theaters said the sequel was as good as, or better than, the first.
“To us, that’s the most compelling data point,” Moore said. “The thing that works so much about this franchise is the level of optimism and fun that’s inherent in it. It transports you to a world that stretches reality but is a ton of fun.”
Par execs were particularly pleased, since the studio pegs the pic’s production and worldwide marketing at $350 million — which the film already surpassed in five days.
In terms of just the three-day weekend, “Transformers 2” grossed $112 million domestically. That, plus the $163 million international opening, makes for a worldwide weekend bow of $274 million, the third best after “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World End” ($356.1 million) and “Spider-Man 3” ($315.9 million).
The international haul was led by China at $21.9 million — the biggest opening of all time for an English-language movie. While it played strongest in Asia, “Revenge of the Fallen” performed ahead of the first film in almost every market, proving that the franchise has taken hold, Paramount prexy of international distribution Andrew Cripps said.
“Transformers,” which Par and DreamWorks debuted over the Fourth of July holiday in 2007, opened to $70.5 million domestically on its way to cuming $319.2 million in North America and $700 million worldwide.
Imax also participated in the “Transformers 2” bounty. The pic played on 169 Imax screens domestically. Five-day opening gross at Imax sites was a record $14.4 million.
The “Transformers” franchise was among the projects that reverted to Paramount after its split with DreamWorks, although Steven Spielberg remained an exec producer on the sequel and DreamWorks’ logo appears at the opening of the pic and in ads.
Adam Goodman, who arrived at Par six months ago from DreamWorks, helped guide both “Transformer” pics. Just days before the “Transformers” sequel opened, Paramount chair-CEO Brad Grey announced that Goodman was being upped to Paramount Film Group prexy as production toppers John Lesher and Brad Weston were exiting the studio.
Grey also lauded Bay’s ability to connect with audiences. He said the entire Par family is “proud to be behind him, and we look forward to our collaboration with him in the future.”
“Transformers 3” is tentatively slotted to open July 1, 2011.
In the meantime, “Revenge of the Fallen” is expected to remain a sizable B.O. force in the coming days, looming over such new fare as 20th Century Fox’s 3-D toon “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” which opens Wednesday.
Also opening Wednesday is Universal’s Johnny Depp gangster pic “Public Enemies.”