Transformers 3 Josh
Credit: Robert Zuckerman

Featuring more explosions per minute than a Fourth of July fireworks display, Transformers: Dark of the Moon will dominate the box office this holiday weekend. And while there’s no doubting the Michael Bay extravaganza will post some enormous numbers, will the action film also be able to re-energize moviegoers’ enthusiasm for 3-D? Scavenging for Transformers‘ leftovers will be the romantic comedy Larry Crowne, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, and the Where-in-the-World-is-Selena-Gomez comedy Monte Carlo. Here are my predictions for the four-day (Friday-to-Monday) weekend:

The $195 million, 157-minute, gazillion-decibel spectacle has already scored the year’s largest opening day by grossing $37.7 million on Wednesday. That’s an impressive figure, yes, but it also represents a hefty 39-percent drop from 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which brought in $62 million its first day. Clearly moviegoers are feeling a bit hesitant about spending another two-and-a-half hours with these alien robots. As a result, Dark of the Moon is performing closer to 2007’s Transformers, which collected $27.9 million its opening day.

The PG-13 action film is playing on 3-D screens at nearly 2,800 locations (including 146 IMAX theaters) — the largest 3-D release ever. The last four major 3-D movies — Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda 2, Green Lantern, and Cars 2 — all made less than half of their opening grosses from 3-D showings. Moon will attempt to reverse that trend. Paramount has been heavily pushing the film’s 3-D format, and even went to the trouble of sending 2,000 theaters an extra-bright print to counter criticism that 3-D movies are too dim. On its opening day, 3-D showings accounted for a solid 60 percent of Moon‘s revenue. If the film is able to maintain that percentage throughout the weekend, it’ll prove that audiences will still flock to 3-D screenings if they feel the movie truly warrants that extra dimension.

Moon has received mediocre reviews, but CinemaScore audiences handed it an overall “A” grade, which is a notable improvement over Revenge‘s “B+” rating. Revenge made $214.9 million its first six days, while the original Transformers took in $155.4 million during that amount of time. By Monday night, I think Moon will have earned roughly $165 million in six days.

2. Cars 2: $39 million

Except for its larger opening day, Cars 2 has so far virtually duplicated the day-to-day performance of the first Cars movie. In 2006, Cars grossed $33.7 million its second weekend — a 44-percent drop. Figurethe sequel will take in around the same amount from Friday to Sunday, plus an additional $5 million or so on Monday.

3. Bad Teacher: $19 million

The Cameron Diaz comedy debuted to a surprising $31.6 million last weekend, but also garnered a tepid “C+” mark from CinemaScore audiences. It shouldn’t plummet as much as The Hangover Part II (64 percent), but a decline of 50 percent seems probable.

4. Larry Crowne: $15 million

With unflattering reviews, this PG-13 dramedy starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts will have to depend on the fanbase these two Academy Award-winning actors have gathered over the years. Hanks, who also co-wrote and directed the picture, has done his part promoting Larry Crowne on seemingly every talk show in existence. In the film, he plays a man who enrolls in a community college after losing his job, and Roberts is one of his professors. The $30 million film should attract older audiences and those who could care less about destruction-addicted robots.

5. Green Lantern: $9.5 million

The $200 million superhero movie fell 66 percent last weekend — the third-worst drop this year. With Transformers likely eating up a significant portion of its remaining audience, expect another big slide this weekend.

6. Monte Carlo: $9 million

The PG-rated comedy stars Selena Gomez as a young woman who is mistaken for a British heiress while vacationing in Paris. As a result, Gomez and her stepsister (Leighton Meester) and best friend (Katie Cassidy) find themselves indulging in the extravagances of Monaco. I’ve not seen a single commercial for this $20 million movie, but then again, I’m not exactly its target audience: tween and teenage girls. Reviews have been ho-hum, but there’s not much else out there for young girls. So, sure, why not, $9 million, I think?

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