"Transformers" in high gear already

Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:21pm EDT
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By Gregg Kilday

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Debuting Wednesday to an estimated $60.6 million, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" already has begun its triumphal rounding of the box office bases that should see it set a record or two by weekend's end.

Once Michael Bay's sequel to the 2007 hit based on the Hasbro toy line staked out the upcoming weekend, there was never any question that it would dominate overall sales. Competitors steered clear of the date, with only Warner Bros. fielding the feel-good weepie "My Sister's Keeper" in a modest bit of counterprogramming.

So the new "Transformers" -- machine-tooled with the help of a budget said to have approached $200 million -- isn't really competing against the other current releases: The Paramount release is out to do battle against the record book.

If Paramount's first-day sales estimate holds, the sequel already can claim the distinction of the biggest Wednesday opening ever. It vaulted ahead of 2007's "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," which bowed to a one-day gross of $44.2 million.

It came unexpectedly close to challenging "The Dark Knight," which holds the records for biggest opening-day gross and best single-day gross: It collected $67.2 million when it opened last year on a Friday. And it squeezed ahead of 2007's "Spider-Man 3," which debuted to $59.8 million, which had enjoyed runner-up status to "Knight" in the best single opening-day list.

"Transformers'" accelerated takeoff was turbo-charged with the help of $16 million from midnight screenings, included in that $60.6 million opening number.

Entering the weekend, the Paramount/DreamWorks co-production -- which is looking to draw in a wide audience base with the help of its fast-rising stars, Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox -- looks on track to surpass the debut of the first "Transformers," which opened on a Monday evening and collected $155.4 million in its first 6-1/2 days. By the close of business Sunday, the sequel probably will have passed that mark and in just its first five days.

In doing so, it also would overshadow 2004's "Spider-Man 2," which holds the record for the best Wednesday-through-Sunday opening with $152.4 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>