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Box office report: 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' blasts off with $116.4 mil holiday weekend

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To quote the Leonard Nimoy-voiced Sentinel Prime, who himself was paraphrasing Nimoy’s Spock: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” That’s a philosophy that Transformers: Dark of the Moon certainly subscribes to, as it disappointed the few (the critics who gave the film ho-hum reviews) while satisfying the many (the global moviegoing audience). Moon has grossed an estimated $379 million worldwide through Sunday — the third-biggest global opening ever, behind Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Spider-Man 3. Domestically, Michael Bay’s $195 million alien-robot threequel collected $116.4 million over the four-day weekend. If the estimate holds, that’ll be the largest four-day Independence Day weekend ever, barely beating Spider-Man 2‘s $115.8 million opening. And Moon‘s three-day weekend gross of $97.5 million marks the year’s best debut — at least until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II demolishes it in two weeks.

After six days in theaters (technically six-and-a-half days when including the sneak-preview screenings on Tuesday night), Moon has tallied an estimated $181.1 million. By comparison, the second Transformers film, Revenge of the Fallen, had made $214.9 million in six days. But Moon appears to be better liked, having received an overall “A” grade from CinemaScore audiences, compared to Revenge‘s “B+” rating.

According to Paramount, Moon attracted a crowd that was 62 percent male and 55 percent under the age of 25. Showings in 3-D accounted for 60 percent of the movie’s weekend gross. That’s a solid improvement compared to the last few 3-D movies, which have been collecting only 40 to 45 percent of their openings from 3-D screens. But Moon‘s 60-percent figure is still lacking compared to some past 3-D event movies, such as TRON: Legacy (82 percent), Avatar (71 percent), and Alice in Wonderland (70 percent). Foreign moviegoers, on the other hand, can’t get enough of 3-D — Moon made 70 percent of its overseas gross from 3-D theaters.

In second was Disney-Pixar’s Cars 2, which brought in $32.1 million over the four-day weekend. The automotive sequel’s three-day weekend gross ($26.2 million) represented a decline of 60 percent — the largest second-weekend drop ever in Pixar history. After 11 days, Cars 2 has earned $123 million. That’s slightly ahead of the original Cars‘ $121.1 million at this point, but expect Cars 2 to fall behind its predecessor in the near future. The Cameron Diaz comedy Bad Teacher was in third place with $17.6 million over the holiday weekend, and has tallied $63 million in two weeks. And two slots lower, in fifth, was the sci-fi adventure Super 8, which continued to hold up very well with $9.5 million over the four-day weekend.

Fourth and sixth place went to the frame’s other two new releases: the Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts comedy, Larry Crowne, and the Selena Gomez comedy, Monte Carlo. Neither movie generated box-office fireworks. Crowne, which was also directed and co-written by Hanks, debuted to a mild $15.7 million over the holiday weekend. The $30 million picture drew an older audience, with 81 percent at least 35 years old, and CinemaScore participants handed it an okay “B” rating. Monte Carlo opened to just $8.8 million, although the globetrotting flick only cost $20 million to produce. It received an “A-” rating from CinemaScore graders, of which 82 percent were female and 52 percent under the age of 18.

Check back next week as two comedies go head-to-head: the R-rated Horrible Bosses, in which three friends attempt to murder their others’ bosses, and the PG-rated Zookeeper, for which moviegoers will be given a scorecard to keep track of how many times Kevin James crashes into something.

Below are studio estimates for the four-day holiday weekend:

1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon — $116.4 mil

2. Cars 2 — $32.1 mil

3. Bad Teacher — $17.6 mil

4. Larry Crowne — $15.7 mil

5. Super 8 — $9.5 mil

6. Monte Carlo — $8.8 mil

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