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?


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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