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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

North American box office: robots go smash

And Michael Bay buys another fourteen mansions in the Caribbean:

1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: $109 million (NEW)
2. The Proposal: $18.6 million (2nd week; drops 45%)
3. The Hangover: $17 million (4th week; drops 36%)
4. Up: $13 million
5. My Sister’s Keeper: $12.4 million (NEW)

actual numbers, not estimates
That $109 million figure for Transformers is only for the three-day weekend, of course. As you’ve likely already heard, the movie earned just a smidge over $200 million since it opened last Wednesday, the second biggest five-day opening ever, behind last year’s The Dark Knight. But it broke other records: biggest June opening weekend ever, and biggest non-holiday, non-Friday opening weekend (cribbed from Box Office Mojo).

That three-day figure of $109 million is, however, about $3 million short of the estimate of $112 million the studio put about on Sunday. Which could mean that the film had already reached most of the fans it’s going to reach by Saturday, or else that word-of-mouth among fans caught up with the scathing reviews the film received. But even if it drops 60 percent next weekend, it’ll still add another $65 million to its tally. Short of global apocalypse next week that shuts off our electricity and reduces us all scavenging for food, Mad Max style, this movie will easily make half a billion dollars worldwide.

Situations like this make me realize that when a smart movie, like The Dark Knight, does well, it’s probably not because it’s smart but, instead, in spite of the fact that it’s smart. Which doesn’t mean that people who like Transformers: ROTF are necessarily stupid — it just means that even smart people like it, for some reason, in spite of the fact that it’s stupid.

I wish I understood why. Or, perhaps I should say, I wish I understood why for reasons that don’t seem to connect to the reasons I suspect why (that many people, smart and dumb alike, respond unthinkingly and in a positive way to jingoism).

I keep wanting to be proven wrong, or to have someone offer an alternative explanation that makes sense, and I have yet to find it.

The question, as always, then, comes down to, Why is this particular stupid movie (or, as in the case of The Dark Knight, this particular smart movie) appealing to so many people at this point in time, if not because of its jingoism?

*sigh*

Overall business was up eight percent over the same weekend last year, which isn’t actually all that great, considering how well Transformers did. Which is another way of saying, Yeah, *yawn,* a summer blockbuster — so what else is new?

I’m glad to see that The Hurt Locker took the weekend, from the perspective of per-screen averages, beating out Bay with its $36,338 on each of its four screens, versus T: ROTF’s $25,736 at each of its 4,234 venues (which translates into something like 10-fucking-thousand screens). If you want to see shit blowing up done up real smartlike, Hurt Locker is your movie.

[numbers via Box Office Mojo]



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  • Mathias

    It’s all hype MaryAnn. The public will see a good film or a bad film if the hype is big enough. That, explosions and the hype around up and coming sex-vixen Megan Fox being called the next Angelina Jolie, was more than enough to pack the masses in.

    But i disagree with you when you say that it’ll reach $500 million domestic. Dark Knight achieved that due to positive word of mouth and Transformers won’t due to it’s negative word of mouth. Believe it or not, i’ve heard plenty of people bad mouthing this flick over the past couple of days.

    I predict $450 million or so about the same as Pirates 2: Dead Man’s Chest, another bloated, silly, effect-laden but dramaticlly inert blockbuster. Still alot more than it deserves, but still, not the worst case scenario.

  • MaryAnn

    But i disagree with you when you say that it’ll reach $500 million domestic.

    Not domestic: worldwide.

  • …even smart people like it, for some reason, in spite of the fact that it’s stupid.

    I wish I understood why. Or, perhaps I should say, I wish I understood why for reasons that don’t seem to connect to the reasons I suspect why (that many people, smart and dumb alike, respond unthinkingly and in a positive way to jingoism).

    I’ll give it a go. First, this division between “smart” and “dumb” people (and movies) is bullshit — you’re treating it like black and white / right and wrong, and it’s really not. At all. A person is never just either smart or dumb, and a movie rarely so. In the case of Transformers, there is the hope that critics are wrong + the knowledge that critics often are wrong, or biased, or whatever + the desire to see a kickass summer action picture + the memory that the first one wasn’t so bad at all = $201million opening week.

    The (apparently earnest) impulse to understand why people might like a movie you don’t, or that most critics don’t, doesn’t really feel like the purview of a critic. Unless he feels like his role is less to give his own opinion and more to influence the opinions of others.

    Second, it’s regrettable that it makes you (and others) so very upset when your opinions are ignored or just plain dismissed; when a movie makes money even though you hate it… but put the blame for that where it belongs: on your own shoulders. Honestly, isn’t it more fun when people disagree with you anyway?

    When the critical community seems to agree within its own ranks, yet the audience at large disagrees to the tune of huge box office smash, it isn’t the result of the audience’s intelligence or even the movie’s specific level of enjoyability. And it certainly (in this case) has nothing the fuck whatosever to do with patriotism of any kind.

    No, in the end, sometimes movies are kinda good even though they have very little artistic meric, or though they might be a little offensive. And sometimes movies make a lot of money because we want them to be good. And we want some air conditioning, a five-dollar cold soda, and some hot salty popcorn.

    Seems pretty self-evident, if you ask me.

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