Movie projector: ‘Transformers’ 2 likely to start smashing records tomorrow


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If the second “Transformers” movie blows away its predecessor and breaks the record for a Wednesday opening, Paramount will have girls to thank.

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is generating huge interest among males, particularly young men, just like 2007’s first film based on Hasbro’s shape-changing robot toy line from the 1980s. That movie sold $319.2 million worth of tickets in the U.S. and Canada, and $389 million overseas.


But ‘Revenge of the Fallen,’ which cost just under $200 million to produce, is also showing strength with a new demographic: young women. According to a person who has seen pre-release audience polling, females younger than 25 are just as interested in the movie as males older than 25. That’s likely because of the growing appeal of 20-something stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox.

With that extra audience group in mind, Paramount is primed for a huge opening. The current five-day-box-office record for a movie debuting on a Wednesday is ‘Spider-Man 2,’ which grossed $152.4 million in 2004. Executives who closely follow tracking say ‘Transformers’ probably will earn roughly $175 million in its first five days. That’s a huge start, albeit short of the five-day record of $203.8 million set by ‘The Dark Knight’ last year. It’s possible, albeit unlikely, that ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ could topple that mark.

It has a better shot at beating the all-time record for a Wednesday of $44.2 million set by ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ in 2007. ‘Transformers’ has already sold out more than 1,000 midnight shows through the websites Fandango and MovieTickets.

Paramount could certainly use the good news this week, after film group President John Lesher and production President Brad Weston were both surprisingly fired last Friday over concerns about a shortage of films on the studio’s slate and the poor peformance of ‘Imagine That’ and ‘Dance Flick.’ Paramount has been having a mixed summer, however, with ‘Star Trek’ proving a major hit.

The only question mark this weekend is the overwhelmingly negative reaction of critics. ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ currently has a score of 39 on Metacritic and only 29% positive reviews, according to Rotten Tomatoes. Though ‘Transformers’ is a critic-proof movie if ever there was one, negative audience buzz could start to depress attendance as soon as this weekend.

Paramount’s event picture is likely to do even bigger business overseas. ‘Revenge of the Fallen’ opened this past weekend in Great Britain and Japan, where it earned an impressive $13.8 million and $5.8 million, respectively. Tomorrow it premieres in every major market except Italy, where it starts Friday, and India, where it opens next week.


The first ‘Transformers’ was particularly popular in Asia. It grossed a record-breaking $51.5 million in South Korea and $37.2 million in China. The sequel is likely to do similar, if not better, business.

Its only competition in wide release this weekend will be Warner Bros.’ tear-jerker ‘My Sister’s Keeper,’ which starts targeting women with no interest in giant robots on Friday.

-- Ben Fritz