* Earns $217 million overseas through Sunday
* Reaps $181 million in U.S. and Canada through Monday
By Bob Tourtellotte
LOS ANGELES, July 4 Big-budget, effects-filled
Hollywood flick "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" smashed its
way through box office records by Monday, its sixth full day in
theaters, with global ticket sales nearing $400 million.
Paramount Pictures, which released the movie about
shape-shifting aliens battling for control of Earth, said the
movie was its highest-grossing international debut ever,
ringing overseas cash registers to the tune of $217 million
through Sunday and beating the release of "Transformers 2."
The movie opened simultaneously in 58 overseas markets last
Wednesday, along with its U.S. and Canadian debut. Global
ticket sales, excluding Monday's international box office
estimates which have not yet been forecast, stand at $398
In U.S. and Canadian theaters, where "Transformers" debuted
in late-night previews on Tuesday last week, the movie will
have taken in $181 million by the time the U.S. Independence
Day holiday ends on Monday night, according to Paramount's
Industry watchers said the movie's four-day (Friday through
Monday) domestic box office forecast of $116.4 million is the
best ever for an Independence Day weekend, which is one of the
heaviest moviegoing periods of the year. It eclipsed the $115.8
million debut of "Spider-Man 2" over the same weekend in 2006.
On Monday, Paramount revised its Sunday estimates slightly
to $97.5 million for the three-day weekend -- Friday through
Sunday -- from a previous $97.4 million.
"Transformers" earned a whopping $24,300 per-theater
average from around 4,000 theaters over the three days. By
contrast, the No. 2 domestic movie, Disney/Pixar's animated
"Cars 2" earned $26.2 million over the three days ($32.1
million for the four days ending Monday) from just under 4,100
theaters. Its per-theater average was about $6,400.
About 60 percent of "Transformers'" domestic revenues came
from theaters showing it in more expensive 3D, and about 70
percent of the international box office tally came from 3D,
which should help bolster the format that in recent months has
seemed to fade in popularity.
"What you take away is that if you give the public the
right movie in the right way, audiences are happy to pay the
upcharge," said Don Harris, executive vice president of
distribution at Paramount.
Against the "Transformers" onslaught, other new releases
did not fare so well. The romantic comedy "Larry Crowne,"
starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, failed to generate much
Adult-themed "Crowne" mustered an estimated $15.7 million
for the four-day, Independence Day holiday weekend in the
United States. That is a small amount for a film with the
A-list star power of Hanks and Roberts, and it could only reach
the No. 4 spot on box office charts in its debut.
Muscling its way ahead of "Crowne" into the No. 3 spot was
the comedy "Bad Teacher," starring Cameron Diaz, with $17.6
million over the four-day holiday.
Another newcomer failing to generate much buzz was the
comedy "Monte Carlo," which stars Selena Gomez and was aimed
mostly at young women. It landed at No. 6 with estimated
earnings of a mere $8.75 million over the four-day holiday.
At No. 5 was the action flick "Super 8," which claimed $9.5
million in ticket sales over the U.S. holiday.
Paramount Pictures, which released "Super 8," is a unit of
Viacom Inc VIAb.N. Disney/Pixar is part of The Walt Disney Co
(DIS.N). "Bad Teacher" was released by Columbia Pictures, part
of the Sony Pictures Entertainment unit of Sony Corp (6758.T).
"Larry Crowne" was distributed by Universal Pictures, which is
controlled by Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), and "Monte Carlo" was
released by 20th Century Fox, a division of News Corp.
(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Paul Simao)