Weekend Box Office (June 26 - 28, 2009)

by Gitesh Pandya

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 $200.1M in its first five days, according to final studio figures, sending the overall marketplace to its highest gross of the year. The eye-popping figure included $109M over the traditional Friday-to-Sunday period plus an additional $91.1M since its Wednesday launch. Compared to Sunday estimates, the Fri-to-Sun gross dropped by $3M while the Wed-Thu take was revised upwards by $1.9M. Playing ultrawide in 4,234 theaters including 169 IMAX screens, the Paramount release averaged a stunning $25,736 over the Friday-to-Sunday period and a gigantic $47,255 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 LaBeouf 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 by a mile.

The onslaught began at 12:01am on Wednesday with an explosive $62M 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 $29.1M on Thursday, rose 26% to $36.7M on Friday, and climbed again by 9% to $40.2M on Saturday. Paramount's Sunday was $32M, just a 20% dip from Saturday. 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 $190M since its launch a week ago making for a jaw-dropping $390M 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 51%.

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 should very well shoot past $350M in the weeks ahead.

Be sure to check BoxOfficeGuru.com all week for daily updates on Transformers.

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 $18.6M giving Buena Vista a solid $69.2M 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 $17M lifting the cume to $183.1M. 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 44% to $13.1M 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 $12.4M from 2,606 locations for a moderate average of $4,774 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 69% in its second weekend to $6M for a ten-day total of $32.5M. The Denzel Washington-John Travolta hostage pic The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 grossed $5.5M, down a troubling 55%, to a cume of $53.5M after 17 days. The studio cannot be pleased with these declines.

Paramount's Star Trek slipped 33% to $3.7M and boosted its amazing total to $246.3M. 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 53% to $3.6M giving the sequel $163.4M 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 $1.7M which was good enough for the ten spot. Averaging a mild $3,453, 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 $145,352 from just four sites for a potent $36,338 average. Pic expands on July 10. Miramax debuted its Michelle Pfeiffer period romance Cheri wider in 76 locations and grossed $405,701 for a mild $5,338 average. Reviews were mixed.

The top ten films grossed $190.6M which was up 8% from last year when WALL•E opened in the top spot with $63.1M; and up 35% from 2007 when Pixar also ruled when Ratatouille debuted at number one with $47M.

Compared to projections, Transformers powered past my five-day forecast of $171M and My Sister's Keeper also debuted ahead of my $9M prediction.

View the UPDATED box office charts for the Top Openings of All-Time and Top Films of 2009.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

For a NEW review of Transformers visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Public Enemies both open midweek ahead of the Fourth of July holiday frame.

Marketplace - Shop for DVDs, electronics, books, and posters at discounted prices:

# Title Jun 26 - 28 Jun 19 - 21 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Transformers: ROTF $ 108,966,307 4,234 1 $ 25,736 $ 200,077,255 Paramount
2 The Proposal 18,578,541 33,627,598 -44.8 3,058 2 6,075 69,162,471 Buena Vista
3 The Hangover 17,022,166 26,753,473 -36.4 3,525 4 4,829 183,054,267 Warner Bros.
4 Up 13,061,737 23,492,677 -44.4 3,487 5 3,746 250,234,554 Buena Vista
5 My Sister's Keeper 12,442,212 2,606 1 4,774 12,442,212 Warner Bros.
6 Year One 6,022,444 19,610,304 -69.3 3,024 2 1,992 32,529,560 Sony
7 The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 5,451,107 12,034,899 -54.7 2,995 3 1,820 53,456,827 Sony
8 Star Trek 3,711,968 5,511,434 -32.6 1,823 8 2,036 246,331,182 Paramount
9 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smith. 3,643,522 7,807,185 -53.3 2,250 6 1,619 163,391,192 Fox
10 Away We Go 1,709,313 871,224 96.2 495 4 3,453 4,088,390 Focus
11 Land of the Lost 1,195,685 4,358,945 -72.6 1,504 4 795 46,815,665 Universal
12 Angels & Demons 1,091,953 2,820,196 -61.3 906 7 1,205 130,277,166 Sony
13 Terminator Salvation 1,088,392 3,284,230 -66.9 1,102 6 988 121,925,747 Warner Bros.
14 Imagine That 942,273 3,290,227 -71.4 1,135 3 830 14,067,015 Paramount
15 Drag Me to Hell 583,215 1,974,375 -70.5 659 5 885 40,536,230 Universal
16 New York 467,694 60 1 7,795 467,694 Yash Raj
17 Cheri 405,701 76 1 5,338 405,701 Miramax
18 Monsters vs. Aliens 365,080 165,408 120.7 311 14 1,174 195,984,055 Paramount
19 Whatever Works 359,805 266,162 35.2 35 2 10,280 738,969 Sony Classics
20 X-Men Origins: Wolverine 310,167 635,130 -51.2 360 9 862 177,836,819 Fox
Top 5 $ 170,070,963 $ 115,518,951 47.2
Top 10 190,609,317 139,770,972 36.4
Top 20 197,419,282 148,064,270 33.3
Top 20 vs. 2008 197,419,282 183,015,963 7.9

Last Updated: June 29, 2009 at 5:15PM ET