"Transformers" tops box office, topples record

LOS ANGELES Mon Jul 9, 2007 9:21am EDT

1 of 3. A scene from 'Transformers' in a publicity image. The big-budget movie about alien robots battling on Earth raked in $67.6 million at box offices over the weekend to land at No. 1 and bring its seven-day total to a record $152.6 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

Credit: Reuters/DreamWorks/Paramount/Handout

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Transformers," the big-budget movie about alien robots battling on Earth, raked in $67.6 million at box offices over the weekend to land at No. 1 and bring its seven-day total to a record $152.6 million, according to studio estimates on Sunday.

Computer-animated "Ratatouille," about a cuisine-loving rat who longs to be a chef in Paris, fell one notch from last week to come in No. 2 with $29 million, boosting its 10-day total to $109.1 million, and action adventure "Live Free or Die Hard," starring Bruce Willis, was No. 3 with $17.4 million.

"Transformers" is based on the 1980s toys that shift shape from cars and planes to become alien Autobots and Decepticons warring against each other here on Earth.

The toys have built a loyal fan base of mostly boys and young men, and they turned out in droves for the movie. But curiously, the film's co-producers at Paramount Pictures and Dreamworks said the second-biggest group of supporters was mothers, who recommended the movie almost unanimously.

"We knew we had hard-core fans who wanted to come, (but) literally every one of the (major audience) groups turned out," said Rob Moore, president of worldwide marketing and distribution at Paramount.

Moms, in particular, "see the movie and see the spirit with which it is done -- the fun of it," Moore added.

"Transformers" debuted in a limited number of theaters on Monday and began a widespread release on Tuesday in the United States and Canada ahead of the U.S. Independence Day Holiday.

TRANSFORMING THE CHARTS

Throughout the week, Paramount trumpeted the film's ability to topple records. The opening-day haul of $27.5 million was the highest Tuesday ever, and $29.1 million on Wednesday was the most cash for an Independence Day.

Paramount said the estimated $152.6 million marked a best for the initial seven days of release for any movie that was not a sequel. It beat 2002's original "Spider-Man," which scored an opening seven-day haul of more than $151 million.

"Ratatouille" also performed well over the holiday since last weekend's initial, three-day haul of $47 million fell short of some box office watchers' expectations

.

At $109 million, the movie is now about $8 million shy of where last summer's Disney-Pixar film, "Cars," was at the same point, and is quickly closing in on "Cars" pace, said Chuck Viane, who heads domestic distribution at the Disney studio.

Willis' explosion-filled "Live Free or Die Hard" boosted its 10-day total to $84.1 million for Twentieth Century Fox.

Besides "Transformers," the only other new movie to open wide this week was Warner Bros. comedy "License to Wed," starring Robin Williams. It proved to be a mild performer with $10.4 million in its first weekend to land at No. 4 on charts. It has taken in $17.8 million since its Tuesday debut.

Rounding out the top five was Universal Pictures' religious comedy "Evan Almighty" with $8.1 million for the weekend and an overall total of $78.1 million.

Michael Moore's documentary about U.S. health care, "Sicko," landed in the No. 9 slot this weekend with $3.6 million and now has a total of $11.5 million.

Paramount and DreamWorks are part of Viacom Inc., Disney-Pixar is a unit of The Walt Disney Co. and Twentieth Century Fox is part of News Corp.. Universal is part of General Electric Co.

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