"Transformers" sequel on track to beat first film

Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:43pm EDT
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By Gregg Kilday

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The Autobots and Decepticons begin slugging it out at the box office Wednesday as "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," Michael Bay's sequel to his 2007 hit, opens for business.

The Paramount/DreamWorks production is invading 4,626 theaters in North America, including 169 Imax locations. In many locations, screenings were expected to start just after midnight.

Since its box office domination is assured -- most competitors stayed away from confronting "Transformers" head-on -- the only question now is how muscular the alien robot tale, based on the Hasbro toy line, will be.

The first "Transformers" grabbed $155.4 million in its first seven days. By the end of this weekend, its sequel could hit a number in that same neighborhood -- but in just five days.

"This looks like it could be one of the biggest Wednesday openers -- with a shot of being the biggest," Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore said, predicting a five-day haul in the $130 million-$150 million range.

Paramount's competitors are betting the five-day number could climb higher than that, but Moore said, "'Transformers' should open bigger than the first one, but to forecast beyond that is a little insane."

Comparisons are tricky since the two "Transformers'" movies are adopting slightly different rollout patterns.

"T1," debuting in 4,011 theaters, opened on a Monday evening on July 2, 2007, and played through the Fourth of July holiday, which that year fell on a Wednesday. Fanboys flocked to the movie's Monday showings, which took in $8.8 million, and momentum built for its Tuesday and Wednesday screenings, dipped a bit on Thursday, and then rallied for a Friday-Sunday weekend of $70.5 million.   Continued...

<p>Actors (from L) Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Megan Fox, film director and executive producer Michael Bay and Shia Labeouf pose for a picture as they arrive for the Russian premiere of "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" in Moscow June 16, 2009. REUTERS/Mikhail Voskresensky</p>