Was there any doubt that Michael Bay’s Transformers would dominate domestic and international box office this weekend? The short answer is ‘no’, and with a worldwide 6-day haul of nearly $250 million, it may have already recouped it’s reported $150 million production budget (prints and advertising were no doubt costly, but they’ll make that up in no time, too).
For the record, domestic numbers shook down like this: $67 million for the weekend from 4,011 theatres for a $16k average and a $152 million total. No records were set, but everybody’s still very, very happy.
So will there be shockwaves from Transformers‘ opening? You bet.Here’s what’s happening. Awhile back, Paramount ousted CEO Sherry Lansing (even though she pulled off the amazing of feat of getting War of the Worlds into theatres in just a few months after M:I 3 fell apart for the umpteenth time) and replaced her with noted television producer Brad Grey. This was seen as a fairly gutsy move on the part of Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone, as Grey did not seem to be the most qualified for a much-coveted job. Then Grey’s first order of business was to bring in Gail Berman, another television vet, as president of the studio (another controversial move).
Cut to today. Berman’s gone. Grey’s moves on behalf of Paramount have been questionable at best (his criminal mishandling of Zodiac springs immediately to mind, not to mention the box office blunder that was Next). In fact, the only thing he’s done right was to buy Dreamworks, which many thought he overpayed for at around $800 million, if memory serves. Since that acquisition, Dreamworks has been, by leaps and bounds, the most profitable arm of the studio, delivering movies like Disturbia and Shrek the Third, along with prestige pics like Letters from Iwo Jima. Now with a big opening from Transformers, whose trim and highly profitable budget is no doubt partly attributable to exec producer Steven Spielberg, Grey appears to be floundering right alongside the talent he brought in, while Dreamworks honchos are raking it in hand over fist.
It could be that, in the next year, someone from Dreamworks, or possibly their whole mega-powerful trifecta of Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen, will be named head of the studio. Which, as a friend put it last night, would make Dreamworks the ultimate Trojan horse. And with Viacom behind them, the SKG trio might be able to turn Paramount into their original vision for Dreamworks: a fiscally responsible home for some of the industries most creative talents.
This is, of course, wild speculation at this point. But should it come to pass, you will be able to trace events right back to this summer, and in some ways right back to this very day. Remember that.
Ratatouille held up reasonably well in its second week, but probably took a bit of a hit from Transformers, falling 38% to $29 million and $109 million total. Live Free or Die Hard took the brunt of the blow, however, falling 48% to $17 million and an $84 million total. Fox is giving it a slow overseas release, but domestic totals should approach the $110 million budget, making it Bruce’s biggest hit in some time, while overseas and DVD should make it fairly profitable for the studio. I hope Willis can parlay this success into some more good supporting work, and maybe even an Oscar nom down the road.
License to Wed opened better than I expected in fourth place with $10.4 million from 2,604 theatres for a $4k average and $17 million since its Wednesday opening. It’ll fall fast and hard, and reviews were dismal, but it won’t qualify as a disaster. Still, I now find myself hoping that Robin Williams (who I think was brilliant in the 70′s and 80′s) will find himself one more good project. I don’t think I’ve even seen any of his pics since One Hour Photo and Insomnia. And I don’t think Barry Man of the Year Levinson is the answer. Maybe a Gus Van Sant reunion?
Evan Almighty continues to disappoint, dropping 46% from last weekend to $8 million for a $78 million total. 1408 seems to be on the opposite track, showing great legs for a horror film. It dropped just 33% (second to only Knocked Up in the top ten) to $7 million and a $53 million total. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura is having a great couple weeks with his name atop this and Transformers, but I still insist he should have cut 1408‘s budget in half, even if it cost him Sam Jackson. Knocked Up followed in seventh with $5 million and a $132 million total. FF: ROTSS (also too long to type out week after week…) was eighth with $4.1 million and a $123 million total.
Michael Moore’s Sicko continues to perform well, but won’t come anywhere near Fahrenheit 9/11‘s $119 million total. It added 261 theatres but dropped 18% from last week, bringing in $3.6 million for an $11.5 million total. Still, those are incredible numbers for a documentary. Ocean’s 13 followed in tenth with $3.5 million and a $109 million total.
Since there isn’t much of interest happening outside the top ten, I’ll go ahead and call it a day. Be sure and check back next week when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix strikes gold while Elisha Cuthbert and Rolland Joffe (really!!??) flounder with Captivity. See you then.