The director's rock 'em, sock 'em robots look like a very big No. 1 this weekend, but ''Ratatouille'' isn't going stale yet either

By Nicole Sperling
Updated July 05, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

In case you all haven’t heard, Transformers is coming to a theater near you — or, really, more like every theater near you, considering it’s opening on more than 4,000 screens across the nation. And while Michael Bay has bombed before (The Island), there’s no way this movie will not be a resounding success. The question is, how big is big, and how do you define a hit in the age of the threequel and the 9,000-print release? Our predictions below (all are for Friday to Sunday, with an additional prediction for Transformers‘ six-day opening).


Paramount · PG · 4,011 theaters · NEW
Beyond the supercool robots, the geeky, likable leading man, the hot girls, and the amazing explosions, what’s sure to make Transformers a hit is that it’s not a sequel. So while that may elicit a big hooray from the average moviegoer exhausted by the same characters running around the big screen, to Paramount it means lowering expectations. So while your average box-office analyst may predict $150 million for the first six days, Paramount is trying to keep things in check and guess closer to $110 million. What do I think? Well, 2005’s War of the Worlds debuted on the Wednesday before Independence Day (which fell on a Monday that year), and that movie made $112 million its first six days on 3,908 screens. And War of the Worlds featured not only Tom Cruise but Steven Spielberg as a director. In this case, Transformers boasts a famous director, but one not as compelling as Spielberg, and an up-and-coming star rather then Hollywood royalty. Still, everyone’s going to see Transformers for the robots, so when you get right down to it, War of the Worlds might just be the perfect comparison.
Weekend prediction: $80 million; six-day prediction: $120 million
[UPDATE: Reports on Wednesday said Transformers had earned an estimated $36.3 million on its Tuesday opening day, including an estimated $8.1 million from screenings on Monday night.]

Walt Disney · G · 3,940 theaters · 2nd weekend
Our favorite Parisian rat had a strong debut last weekend, and kept up its momentum with a very tasty $7.6 million estimate for Monday. While it looks like Transformers is going to run over everything in its way, the contender that has the best chance of escaping unscathed is the cute, cuddly animated picture made for kids a wee bit too young to witness battling robots. Last summer, Pixar’s Cars dropped 44 percent its second weekend. It’s unlikely Ratatouille will fall as far. I’m thinking more of a 35 percent drop considering young viewers will see this film, not Transformers.
Weekend prediction: $31 million

Live Free or Die Hard
Fox · PG-13 · 3,408 theaters · 2nd weekend
Yes, John McClane will be hurt by the big robots, but with strong reviews at his back and a solid opening weekend, he can probably survive. Who knows, maybe Die Hard will be the older moviegoer’s choice for action this July 4th. There certainly are a lot more fans of the Die Hard franchise then Transformers toys (i.e., women).
Weekend prediction: $17 million

License to Wed
Warner Bros. · PG-13 · 2,401 theaters · NEW
So it’s a romantic comedy starring Mandy Moore and The Office‘s John Krasinski as a soon-to-be married couple. Robin Williams stars as the crazy priest who puts the two through a battery of bizarre tests. If there is going to be a movie that’s going to get lost in all the clutter, this seems to be the one. I know it’s the counter-programming option for women wanting to go to the movies, but my guess is the gamble isn’t going to work. We’ve seen Williams play this role one too many times.
Weekend prediction: $15 million

Evan Almighty
Universal · PG · 3,636 theaters · 3rd weekend
It cost $200 million to make and in two weekends has made only $60 million. So in the spirit of our country’s independence, drop some change into the Evan Almighty coinbox in your theater’s lobby. They’re taking donations.
Weekend prediction: $8 million

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