‘Transformers 3’ Scores $400M+ Opening at Global Box Office

Michael Bay film enjoys the third biggest foreign opening of all time; Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts film “Larry Crowne” fizzles to $15.7M

Last Updated: July 5, 2011 @ 10:41 AM

Marking the second hugely successful day-and-date global release this summer, Paramount's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" grossed $379 million at the worldwide box office through Sunday, according to studio estimates. The total will easily exceed $400 million by the end of Monday.

Paramount estimates that the sequel will meet its pre-release domestic projections with $181.1 million by the end of day Monday.

"Dark of the Moon" also set a four-day Fourth of July holiday-weekend record with $116.4 million over the frame — narrowly beating Sony's "Spider-Man 2" ($115.8 million), pending final tally.

But it was the foreign market, 70 percent of which chose to see the movie in 3D, that drove "Transformers 3."

Opening up in 58 territories across the globe at the same time it premiered in 4,013 theaters in the U.S. and Canada, the film enjoyed the third biggest foreign Wednesday-through-Sunday opening ever.

Also read: One Billion Dollars! Disney's 'Pirates 4' is the 8the Film to Cross Big Box-Office Mark 

Earlier, IMAX announced that "Transformers 3" had set a global-opening record, grossing an estimated $22.5 million on worldwide IMAX screens through Sunday.

The huge overseas start comes just over a month after Disney's day-and-date global release of "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" yielded a $256.3 million opening abroad. That film went on to cross the $1 billion mark this weekend, largely on the back of the foreign market.

"If we hadn't chosen to debut the movie later in Japan and China, we probably would have had the all-time record," noted Don Harris, general manager of distribution for Paramount.

Here's how the top 10 finished. Full report continues below chart:

Releasing a film around the world the same weekend it premieres in the U.S. and Canada — what the industry calls a day and date premiere — started as a means of combating piracy. The logic: why wait for illicit copies of a film to spoil emerging markets like Russia? Just get the film out there.

But with "Pirates 4" and "Transformers 3" showing the strategy has a potentially explosive upside, might we see more of these types of worldwide releases?

Could be.

"Just from a publicity standpoint, it's easier to get [the cast] together at one time and take them on the road," said Harris, noting that the "Transformers" crew got all its press junkets out of the way in a worldwide barnstorming tour that started in Russia, wound through Germany and ended in New York.

In the U.S. and Canada, "Dark of the Moon" got an A grade from movie word-of-mouth researcher Cinemascore, which helped the film overcome the bad narrative aftertaste of 2009's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."

Also read: Shia LaBeouf: 'I'm Done' With 'Transformers' 

About 62 percent of the audience was male, and 55 percent was under the age of 25, making "Transformers 3" one of the few movies this year to truly resonate with young-male moviegoers.

Undoubtedly, some of that young-male audience came at the expense of Disney/Pixar's "Cars 2," which dropped 52 percent in its second weekend to $32.1 million. 

With director Michael Bay focusing in on the 3D production values and tub-thumping the format during the film's pre-release press run-up, the movie received 60 percent of its domestic revenue from 3D engagements. 

It's not the 80-plus percent that "Avatar" enjoyed, but it's enough — for now — to give 3D supporters hope that growing consumer backlash against 3D won't snowball right over them.

"I'm of the opinion that 3D has to be for the right movie, and it has to be done the right way," Harris noted.

"Dark of the Moon" wasn't the only film opening widely this weekend.

Universal sought to counter-program the weekend with romantic comedy "Larry Crowne," which stars Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.

The film ended up with a disappointing four-day gross of $15.7 million. 

Universal distributed the film in the U.S. under service deal with Vendome Pictures, which fully financed the movie to the tune of around $30 million.

Also read: 'Larry Crowne': It's Forrest Gump Meets Julia Roberts

With foreign pre-sales, Vendome will likely make its money back. But the film certainly proves that the once formidable drawing powers of Hanks and Roberts have ebbed significantly.

"Larry Crowne" had a decent footprint, opening in 2,973 locations in the U.S. and Canada, and Cinemascore graded it with a lukewarm B grade.

And while everything at the multiplex seems to be drawing a little older these days, "Larry Crowne" took it to a whole new level this weekend — it's audience registered 81 percent above the age of 35.

Meanwhile, opening in 2,473 locations, Fox's Selena Gomez vehicle "Monte Carlo" grossed $8.8 million over the four-day frame, missing pre-release forecasts that were closer to $10 million.

The film cost about $20 million to produce.

In terms of the art-house scene, newcomer Azazel Jacobs' "Terri" grossed $82,521 playing at six locations in New York and Los Angeles — a moderate opening for a quirky comedy co-starring John C. Reilly.

But the real story remained Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," which dropped only 7 percent in its seventh weekend to $4.3 million. The film has grossed $34.6 million to date in the U.S. and Canada.

Overall, the domestic market was pretty much flat with last year's Fourth of July holiday, trailing only by about 3 percent, according to one studio's estimate.