On Friday “Ice Age 3D: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” came oh-so close to kneecapping Michael Bay’s “Transformers” sequel at the box office. Less than one million dollars separated Fox’s 3D toon and Paramount’s robot flick that wouldn’t die. It all evened out over the weekend, however, with both films bringing in an estimated $43.5 million dollars over three days. Talk of “Tf2” becoming this year’s “The Dark Knight” was a hot topic one week ago when the film came within 3 million of tying Batman’s 5 day record, but those of us still immune to the dubious charms of Bay knew that those similarities would prove groundless once “Transformers” made it to its second weekend. So here we are and, surprise! The momentum of the big, shiny metal ones appears greatly slowed. “Transformers 2” was not embarrassed in any way, of course, but if we still want to talk “Dark Knight” records a tie is not very convincing evidence. More box office talk after the jump…
|1||Ice Age 3D||$43,500,000||$67,506,000|
|7||My Sister’s Keeper||$5,255,000||$25,964,000|
|8||Taking of Pelham 1 2 3||$2,500,000||$58,471,000|
|10||Night at the Museum 2||$2,100,000||$167,763,000|
I’m gonna begin today with a movie that has been largely overlooked over the past week – “Ice Age 3D”. For a franchise that has already made about a billion dollars worldwide, the third installment of “Ice Age” sort of crept up out of nowhere – lost in a sea of news about Megan Fox and those Giant F*cking Robots. The advance buzz on “Ice Age 3D” was so nonexistent that Fox felt compelled to hold sneak peaks of the movie on Father’s Day… you know, just to remind folks that Scrat was coming back and that everyone still loved Ray Romano. I’m not sure if the sneak peaks had any effect, but while Fox could have hoped for more in terms of a first week take – they did choose to open on the only recent holiday frame that included a Saturday dead zone. They’ll have to be content with topping their five day projected take of $60 million – and of course tying “Transformers” has to feel pretty good too.
Estimates have “Transformers 2” all even with “Ice Age 3” as of Sunday but remember – those are estimates. At this time tomorrow we may find that number two is actually where “Tf2” belongs. The film is still out in 4,234 theaters – more than the 4,099 venues “Ice Age” is holding down – but 1,606 of the “Ice Age” locations are screening in 3D (a record) so the higher ticket prices the format commands may still be a factor when the actual figures roll in. “Transformers” did have another great week, however. It officially passed Pixar’s “Up” to become 2009’s highest grossing film with $295 domestic. Worldwide it is also way out ahead of “Angels & Demons” with a haul of about $300 million in just ten days.
Whether tied for #1 or coming in a close #2, the momentum of “Transformers 2” does seem to be slowing dramatically. Let’s go back to that old “Dark Knight” equation for some evidence: in its second weekend in release “The Dark Knight” brought in $75 million – $45 more than the number two film, “Step Brothers”. This is not a fair comparison, of course (had “DK” gone up against a popular animated franchise that gap may have been smaller) but it is still illustrative for those who are counting on “Tf2” showing strong legs throughout the month of July. Actually, July is about to give “Transformers” shin splints. “Bruno is due out on July 10th and the following week a little wizard named Potter will make his much-delayed re-entry into American cinemas. “Bruno” will immediately siphon away some of the “Transformers” young male audience (if those young males have not yet met their quota for mind-numbing stupidity, that is) but the real danger for the bots (and for “Ice Age 3” as well) comes from the cross-demographic magic of “Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince”.
A film that actually does have potential to find its legs in this new age of one-week Number One films is Michael Mann’s “Public Enemies”. The stylish and well-reviewed film has valiantly stood in the path of the flood of summer fluff-films and action blockbusters and has actually managed to stay upright in the process. Universal was concerned enough about its expensive period flick ($100 million was the reported budget but it was likely over $125) to lower its five-day projections from $40 million to $30 million on Tuesday. They needn’t have bothered. Even with the sagging popularity of Christian Bale, the charisma of Johnny Depp was more than enough to push “Public Enemies” past $41 million in its first five days. “Enemies” will suffer the curse of “Bruno” next week, but good word of mouth and a dearth of analogous adult fare in the coming weeks should allow “Public Enemies” to find its niche – Universal is just praying that niche is located in the neighborhood of $100 million.
Finally, I’d like to say a big “Hell Yeah” to the film “The Hangover”. Warner Brothers’ comedy passed $200 million on Saturday to become the fourth highest grossing film of 2009. With another $10 million collected this weekend (the Fourth of July no less) “The Hangover” is the definition of a long-distance box office runner. And it only cost $35 million to make – Michael Bay, please take note…
I’ll be covering the “Bruno” box office when the film opens on July 10th, so until then let me know how much “Ice Age 3” sucks compared with “Transformers 2” below!