Transformers 3
Credit: Robert Zuckerman

Records, records everywhere. Transformers: Dark of the Moon collected $97.4 million this weekend (from Friday to Sunday), according to studio estimates. That’s a significant result in three different ways: (1) largest opening weekend of the year, passing Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides‘ $90.2 million debut; (2) biggest Independence Day weekend, beating Spider-Man 2‘s $88.2 million; and (3) third-best July opening weekend, behind The Dark Knight and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Michael Bay’s $195 million alien-robot threequel is projected to finish the four-day holiday weekend with $116 million, bringing its six-day cumulative total to $181 million. But despite those enormous numbers, Dark of the Moon will likely never catch its predecessor Revenge of the Fallen, at least domestically. By comparison, that 2009 sequel had earned a massive $214.9 million after six days. According to Paramount, 62 percent of Moon‘s audience was male and 55 percent under the age of 25. Showings in 3-D continued to account for 60 percent of its gross, and IMAX screens single-handedly brought in an estimated $13.8 million over the four-day weekend.

Two other movies notched meaningful records. On Saturday, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides crossed $1 billion worldwide, becoming just the eighth film ever to do so. Despite being the weakest Pirates film domestically ($233.7 million through today), On Stranger Tides has pillaged an extraordinary $774 million overseas. The only other movies to have earned more on foreign shores are Avatar and Titanic. And Universal’s Bridesmaids is expected to pass Sex and the City today to become the highest-grossing R-rated female comedy ever. With $152.9 million through Sunday, Bridesmaids is also producer Judd Apatow’s most successful movie.

As for the rest of the box office, Cars 2 plunged a steep 62 percent for $25.1 million over the three-day weekend — the largest second-weekend drop in Pixar history. Bad Teacher earned $14.1 million for a 55-percent decline. In fourth, the new Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts comedy Larry Crowne didn’t make much of an impression with $13 million. According to Universal, 64 percent of the film’s audience was female, and a whopping 81 percent was at least 35 years old. And in fifth, the Selena Gomez comedy Monte Carlo debuted to $7.6 million.

Below are studio estimates for the three-day (Friday-to-Sunday) weekend. Check back on Monday for four-day estimates, plus the complete box office report.

1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon — $97.4 mil

2. Cars 2 — $25.1 mil

3. Bad Teacher — $14.1 mil

4. Larry Crowne — $13.0 mil

5. Monte Carlo — $7.6 mil

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