Box Office Guru Wrapup: New Comedies Can't Stop Transformers

Autobots fend off Horrible Bosses and a Zookeeper.

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A pair of star-driven comedies couldn't keep the 3D juggernaut Transformers: Dark of the Moon from holding onto the number one spot at the worldwide box office as the Autobots held up well for an action sequel coming off of a holiday putting it on course to possibly reach the $1 billion global box office mark. The Michael Bay behemoth grossed an estimated $47M in its second weekend falling 52% from its debut frame - not bad for the third chapter in a sci-fi tentpole franchise. Last weekend's Friday-to-Sunday take did not include the opening day which helped keep the decline manageable, but still the hold for this type of film was commendable. The third Transformers flick has now banked a stellar $261M in under two weeks making it the top-grossing domestic blockbuster of 2011.

Moon is running 11% behind the pace of the last chapter Revenge of the Fallen which had banked $293.4M in 2009 after its second weekend. A final North American take of $350-360M could result putting Optimus Prime and pals in a position to possibly finish the year as the box office champ. Next weekend, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 invades and will give Transformers a major challenge. Each of the last four installments finished near the $300M mark, though 3D surcharges and fan excitement over the conclusion of the franchise should take this new one higher. Also giving a challenge will be November's The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 which follows a pair of chapters that also collected about $300M a piece.

Overseas, the new Transformers continued its red hot run with an estimated $93M boosting the international take to $384M and the global haul to $645M. Some key markets showed amazing strength like Korea which dipped by 33%, the United Kingdom which slipped only 27%, and Brazil which eased just 29%. However, Russia tumbled 58%, France fell 56%, and Germany dropped 51%. Helped by 3D - both with grosses and audience excitement - Moon looks on track to smash through $600M from outside of North America.

Among non-robot films, the raunchy revenge comedy Horrible Bosses led the way opening in second place with strong results to the tune of $28.1M, according to estimates. The Warner Bros. release averaged a sturdy $9,247 from 3,040 theaters with an opening that fell in between recent successful R-rated summer comedies Bad Teacher ($31.6M) and Bridesmaids ($26.2M). With an all-star cast including Jason Bateman, Jason Sudekis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, and Jamie Foxx, Horrible Bosses offered an intriguing concept about three men fed up with their bosses who conspire to kill them. Reviews were mainly favorable helping the film reach its target audience of adults and paying ticket buyers were generally pleased with the product as its CinemaScore grade was a B+.

The Kevin James comedy Zookeeper enjoyed a respectable debut in third place with an estimated $21M from 3,482 theaters for a $6,031 average. Directed by Frank Coraci (The Wedding Singer, Waterboy), the PG-rated entry marks only the second major film for James to anchor solo following the sleeper hit Paul Blart: Mall Cop which debuted to a heftier $31.8M on its way to $146.3M. But the magic didn't work this time as the critically-panned summer laugher scored a decent debut, but did not reach the kind of heights needed for an expensive $80M comedy. Rosario Dawson co-stars along with the voices of Adam Sandler, Cher, and Sylvester Stallone who take on the roles of the talking animals.

Originally produced at MGM with an expensive script, financial turmoil at the studio led to Zookeeper shifting over to Sony. The story of an animal caretaker that gets dating advice from his zoo attractions scored a mediocre B+ grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore. 53% of the crowd was female while 59% was over 25. James did, however, fare better than the last big-name comedian offering an animal-oriented kidpic beating the $18.4M bow of last month's Mr. Popper's Penguins. That Jim Carrey project earned better reviews plus a higher CinemaScore grade and is on course to end with 3.5 times its opening weekend tally.

After hitting the brakes in its second lap, the 3D toon Cars 2 stabilized in its third weekend dropping 42% to an estimated $15.2M boosting the 17-day total for Disney and Pixar to $148.8M. That puts it 5% behind the $156.7M of the first Lightning McQueen pic from the summer of 2006. Though a small gap, it will quickly get bigger as the first Cars banked a stronger $23M in its third frame and the Fourth of July holiday didn't occur until later. Cars 2 looks on course to finish its domestic run in the same vicinity as Ratatouille's $206.4M which was the lowest-grossing Pixar film from the last dozen years.

Cameron Diaz's comedy Bad Teacher followed with an estimated $9M, off a good 38%, for a $78.8M total for Sony. It looks set to become the 11th $100M+ grosser for Diaz. Tom Hanks, another star with a string of hits making it into the century club, saw a large decline for his directorial flop Larry Crowne which fell 52% to an estimated $6.3M. Universal was hoping that the older-skewing dramedy would have legs since mature adults don't rush out on opening weekend, but bad word-of-mouth ruined the day. With only $26.5M in ten days, Crowne should fizzle out with a disappointing $40-45M by the end of its run.

The J.J. Abrams sci-fi hit Super 8 slipped 39% to an estimated $4.8M giving Paramount $118.1M to date. Led by young stars but not filling up theaters, Fox's Monte Carlo dropped 49% to an estimated $3.8M in its sophomore session. With only $16.1M in ten days, the Selena Gomez vehicle should end up with about $25M.

Fading fast, the super hero pic Green Lantern fell 52% to an estimated $3.1M lifting the underwhelming cume for the big-budget production to only $109.7M. Rounding out the top ten was Jim Carrey's kidpic Mr. Popper's Penguins with an estimated $2.9M, down 49%, for a $57.7M sum.

The critically-acclaimed music documentary Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest platformed to solid results in just three New York theaters and a solo Los Angeles house grossing an estimated $120,000 for an impressive $30,004 average. Fans rushed out upfront as the opening day accounted for 38% of the weekend - high for a specialty film - while Saturday dropped by 16%. Showered with glowing reviews, the R-rated hip hop film expands Friday to 15 more sites and will continue to reach more markets through August.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $141.2M which was down 23% from last year when Despicable Me opened in the top spot with $56.4M; but up 7% from 2009 when Brüno debuted at number one with $30.6M.

Written by Gitesh Pandya, Box Office Guru!