Weekend Box Office (July 6 - 8, 2007)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Optimus Prime and his robot heroes seized the number one spot at the North American box office with an explosive opening for Transformers over the extended Independence Day holiday frame which turned out to be $3M better than originally estimated. The Paramount/DreamWorks co-production grossed $70.5M over the Friday-to-Sunday period, according to final studio figures, and an amazing $155.4M since its early opening last Monday with 8pm preview shows. Internationally, the Michael Bay-directed actioner has grossed a stellar $93.6M to date from 29 markets putting the global haul at $249M and counting. Shia LaBeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Jon Voight, Anthony Anderson, and newcomer Megan Fox led the cast while executive producer Steven Spielberg's name played prominently in the film's marketing campaign.

Transformers played in an ultrawide 4,011 theaters in North America and averaged a scorching $17,577 for the weekend and a stunning $38,745 over the 6.5-day opening week. The PG-13 film began its explosive run on Monday night with $8.8M in ticket sales and followed that with $27.9M on Tuesday, $29.1M on the Wednesday holiday, $19.2M on Thursday, $22.7M on Friday, $25.7M on Saturday, and $22.1M on Sunday. The Sunday take dipped a mere 14% from Saturday.

With a production budget of $145M, Transformers is one of the least expensive summer tentpoles this year. Spider-Man 3 and the third Pirates saga reportedly cost $250-300M each to produce and next weekend's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix also carries a mighty high pricetag. By comparison, the Autobots flick seems rather inexpensive. The pressure certainly was on Bay after his last film The Island cost $125M and grossed a puny $35.8M for DreamWorks two years ago. This time, the studio will be rewarded as Transformers not only started off with a bang, but is pleasing audiences too and could enjoy more solid weeks ahead. Its main foe will come from Potter which invades multiplexes this Wednesday to get a headstart on what surely will be a gargantuan five-day debut.

Paramount set a new record for the biggest opening week for a non-sequel as its 6.5-day tally edged out the $151.6M that Spider-Man grossed in May 2002. The webslinger's figure would be roughly $170M at today's prices, though. Still for Paramount and DreamWorks, Transformers marks the biggest live-action opening in company history and their third largest overall debut after the third and second Shrek installments.

Adjusting for eleven years of ticket price increases, Transformers sold about as many tickets as Independence Day did during its extended debut over the same Fourth of July holiday week. Both were effects-driven non-sequel summer action films with ensemble casts about alien forces threatening the safety of Earth. Independence Day began its run with 6pm shows on Tuesday night and grossed $96.1M from 2,882 theaters over 5.5 days which at today's prices would be about $125M. Transformers collected a slightly better $133.3M in its first 5.5 days. Of course, the comparisons are not exact since ID4 had an earlier start with its Tuesday previews and Transformers played in 1,129 more theaters, but the fighting robots did generate the same early July excitement that the alien blockbuster did over a decade ago.

Shia LaBeouf must be hoping that his career will take off the way Will Smith's did back then. The young actor will star opposite Harrison Ford next Memorial Day weekend with Paramount's fourth Indiana Jones film which certainly makes his stock climb, and will be looking for a much fatter paycheck when Transformers 2 negotiations begin.

Moviegoers who preferred rats over robots spent $29M on the Disney/Pixar hit Ratatouille which dropped to second place after losing only 38% of its opening weekend sales. After a stellar midweek holiday period that saw the G-rated toon grossing $33.5M from Monday-to-Thursday, the ten-day cume soared to $109.5M. Ratatouille is now catching up to Pixar's Cars from last summer which dropped 44% to $33.7M in its second weekend for a ten-day tally of $117.1M. The rodent pic trailed Cars by 22% after the first three days, but has now cut the gap to only 6%. Ratatouille could find its way to the vicinity of $225M.

Despite direct competition from Transformers, Live Free or Die Hard performed well shooting up $17.7M for third place this weekend. Down 47%, the PG-13 action sequel upped its cume to $84.4M after 12 days. A final domestic tally of $130-140M could result.

Robin Williams saw only mild results for his latest comedy License to Wed which grossed $10.4M over the weekend and opened to $17.8M over its extended six-day launch period. Playing in 2,604 theaters, the PG-13 pic averaged a mediocre $4,002 over the Friday-to-Sunday period. Critics trashed the Warner Bros. release which tried to position itself as counterprogramming to the testosterone antics of the fighting robots over the holiday week.

Dropping 42% to fifth place was the pricey comedy Evan Almighty with $8.7M in its third weekend giving Universal $78.7M to date. 2003's Bruce Almighty grossed a much mightier $171.4M in its first 17 days and cost half as much as Evan to produce.

MGM's hit thriller 1408 followed with $7.1M, down only 34%, for a solid cume of $53.7M. Universal's comedy Knocked Up also held up well dipping 29% to $5.2M. The impressive total stands at $132.1M which is already 21% better than the final gross of director Judd Apatow's last film The 40-Year-Old Virgin which laughed up $109.3M in 2005.

Fox's comic book sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer suffered the worst drop in the top ten falling 54% to $4.2M for a $123.9M total (9% behind its predecessor). Lionsgate expanded its Michael Moore documentary Sicko from 441 to 702 theaters and grossed $3.6M, off just 20%, pushing the cume to $11.5M. George Clooney and pals rounded out the top ten by looting $3.5M with Ocean's Thirteen, down 42%, and raised the sum to $109.1M (5% behind Ocean's Twelve).

Three new films debuted well in limited release over the weekend. MGM's Vietnam war drama Rescue Dawn opened in six theaters with $110,326 for a potent $18,387 average. With $167,872 over five days, the Christian Bale film played to an older male audience and expands to the top ten markets this Friday. Fox Searchlight's thriller Joshua bowed in six sites as well and grossed $51,233 for an average of $8,538. The distributor will widen the run into about 140 locations this coming weekend. Warner Independent opened its comedy Introducing the Dwights in four playdates and collected $27,734 for a three-day average of $6,933. Five-day total was $43,085. On Friday, the R-rated pic will expand to about 40 theaters.

Two films fell from the top ten over the weekend. The megahit Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End became the 25th film in history to sail past the $300M mark with its $3M take in its seventh frame. Down 39%, the Johnny Depp adventure upped its total to $301.7M from North America keeping it at number 25 on list of all-time domestic blockbusters. A final gross of $305-310M seems likely domestically. Overseas ticket sales have surpassed $623M putting the global gross at a colossal $925M and counting.

Focus enjoyed a good hold with its star-driven drama Evening which took in $2.4M, off 32% in its sophomore frame. But the ten-day cume is still only at $8.4M meaning a not-so-impressive $15M final seems likely.

Among the summer's biggest hits, Shrek the Third grossed $1.5M, down 43%, while Spider-Man 3 dipped 50% to $303,553. Total domestic grosses stand at $316.7M and $334.3M, respectively, and both films have now joined the Top 20 on the all-time domestic blockbusters list.

The top ten films grossed $160.1M which was down 23% from last year when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest shattered the opening weekend box office record with $135.6M; but up 18% from 2005 when Fantastic Four debuted on top with $56.1M.

Compared to projections, Transformers and License to Wed both opened close to my respective Friday-to-Sunday forecasts of $67M and $11M.

For a review of License to Wed visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Captivity both open. A special update on the opening day of Harry Potter will also be published on Thursday.

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# Title Jul 6 - 8 Jun 29 - Jul 1 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Transformers $ 70,502,384 4,011 1 $ 17,577 $ 155,405,412 Paramount
2 Ratatouille 29,014,293 47,027,395 -38.3 3,940 2 7,364 109,531,598 Buena Vista
3 Live Free or Die Hard 17,730,149 33,369,559 -46.9 3,411 2 5,198 84,424,123 Fox
4 License to Wed 10,422,258 2,604 1 4,002 17,838,076 Warner Bros.
5 Evan Almighty 8,719,135 15,140,945 -42.4 3,460 3 2,520 78,706,785 Universal
6 1408 7,088,979 10,662,804 -33.5 2,631 3 2,694 53,738,325 MGM
7 Knocked Up 5,222,680 7,302,225 -28.5 2,213 6 2,360 132,089,425 Universal
8 Fantastic Four: Rise of the SS 4,239,993 9,143,876 -53.6 2,618 4 1,620 123,881,586 Fox
9 Sicko 3,600,179 4,501,712 -20.0 702 3 5,128 11,452,560 Lionsgate
10 Ocean's Thirteen 3,525,366 6,085,959 -42.1 2,102 5 1,677 109,145,316 Warner Bros.
11 Pirates of the Caribbean: AWE 3,008,962 4,960,368 -39.3 1,869 7 1,610 301,725,691 Buena Vista
12 Evening 2,374,904 3,501,971 -32.2 979 2 2,426 8,378,433 Focus
13 Shrek the Third 1,537,841 2,673,877 -42.5 1,421 8 1,082 316,740,255 Paramount
14 Surf's Up 991,175 2,446,757 -59.5 1,458 5 680 56,042,318 Sony
15 Nancy Drew 912,495 1,876,247 -51.4 1,124 4 812 23,247,916 Warner Bros.
16 A Mighty Heart 647,288 1,587,323 -59.2 651 3 994 8,404,897 Par. Vantage
17 La Vie En Rose 608,884 617,080 -1.3 162 5 3,759 6,030,711 Picturehouse
18 Once 439,648 381,336 15.3 132 8 3,331 4,563,755 Fox Searchlight
19 Waitress 387,020 469,384 -17.5 227 10 1,705 17,447,571 Fox Searchlight
20 Spider-Man 3 303,553 602,153 -49.6 310 10 979 334,344,283 Sony
Top 5 $ 136,388,219 $ 115,347,579 18.2
Top 10 160,065,416 141,699,814 13.0
Top 20 171,277,186 153,069,041 11.9
Top 20 vs. 2006 171,277,186 214,972,977 -20.3

Last Updated: July 9, 2007 at 6:00PM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Friday at 9:50am ET.