October 22, 2016
        Hollywood Contenders: New Oscar Predictions for October                Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Naomie Harris, Lily Collins get Honors at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                "Manchester by the Sea" leads the Gotham Award nominations                Tom Ford, Marc Platt and Kenneth Lonergan to be Honored at 20th Annual Hollywood Film Awards                Tom Cruise is in his action hero comfort zone with "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back"                "Moonlight" could be A24's big Oscar horse this year                Ewan McGregor steps behind the camera with "American Pastoral"                Hollywood Contenders: A second crack at Golden Globe predictions for 2016                "The Accountant" seeks to help give Ben Affleck another blockbuster                85 countries will be competing for Best Foreign Language Feature nominations at the Oscars                Tom Hanks to receive Hollywood Actor Award for "Sully" @ Hollywood Film Awards                "Certain Women" showcases Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, and Michelle Williams                Ben Affleck is perhaps Hollywood's biggest and most diverse superstar                "The Birth of a Nation" looks to survive controversy and contend for awards                "The Girl on the Train" hopes to transport Emily Blunt to the Oscar race        

Transformers: Dark of the Moon dominated weekend

HollywoodNews.com: As expected, Transformers: Dark of the Moon (review) dominated the long Fourth-of-July holiday frame this weekend. The film had a Fri-Sun debut of $97 million and thus far sits with $161 million since opening late Tuesday night. It’s expected to end its 6.25-day opening with around $180 million, with a worldwide six-day opening weekend well over $400 million. There are those who will scream “DISAPPOINTMENT!” because Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opened with $200 million in its first five days two years ago. If $180 million in six days is disappointment, sign me up for failure anytime. The film played 62% male and 55% under-25. Oddly enough, the picture scored an A- from males and an A from females in Cinemascore polling. I’m sure pundits will find sexist explanations for that finding (“Oh, the girls just LOVED that LeBeouf goes into a war-torn Chicago to save his girlfriend.”), but I’ll just chalk it up to the fact that any woman who walks into a Transformers movie likes robot-smashing and explosions as much as the stereotypical guy. The picture sold 60% of its tickets in 3D, which is an uptick from the usual 45/55 2D advantage over the last few months. Point being, if you give teens and older audiences something worth seeing in 3D (as opposed to families with really young kids), they will make the choice to plunk down the extra $3.

Anyway, the film had a slightly slower start than Revenge of the Fallen ($42 million opening day versus $62 million opening day), but managed to catch up to the derided sequel as the weekend wore on (part 3’s Friday was just $3 million behind part 2’s Friday). The $97 million Fri-Sun opening was the biggest opening weekend of the year, and the nineteenth-biggest opening weekend ever. It’s $162 million five-day total is the seventh-biggest on record and unseats Spider-Man 2 ($152 million) as the biggest Wed-Sun haul in July 4th history. If Transformers 3 can make it to $183.6 million by tomorrow, it will have the second-biggest six-day total ever. As it is, it’s all but guaranteed a spot in the top-five. Where it goes from here is an open question as always. The 3D screens will be an endangered species as early as July 22nd, when Captain America opens in 3D and 2D. The IMAX screens are gone as of July 15th, when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II unfurls (also in 3D, but it will take most of its 3D screens from Green Lantern and Cars 2). While Dark of the Moon may not match the $400 million+ domestic haul of Revenge of the Fallen, the $310 million gross of the original Transformers is well within reach, and overseas numbers are already crushing previous Transformers opening records around the world. It’s too early to say whether it can reach the $1 billion club. But if Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides can parlay (sorry, pirate pun) ugly and dark 3D into a $1 billion worldwide gross (thanks foreigners…), then surely something that actually provides obvious value for your 3D dollar can make a similar run. Oh, and for those complaining that Michael Bay reused footage from The Island (so as to not reshoot a stunt that seriously injured a stuntwoman and/or use the footage of her injury in the film), Disney has done the same thing for years (CLICK).

Also opening this weekend was the Tom Hanks/Julia Roberts recession dramedy Larry Crowne. The film, distributed by Universal, opened with $13 million over the Fri-Sun portion of the weekend. Despite the star-power at play, it’s important to remember a few things. A) The film looked lousy and got bad reviews. B) The film only cost $30 million to produce, so it will be profitable. C) Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks are years (a decade?) past their peak, so we should stop expecting them to reach their late-90s box office highs, especially with a small film such as this. This is a small, character-driven film that will do decent business over the next month, as the core audience (older moviegoers – 81% were 35 and up) are not the sort to race out on opening weekend. The other wide release was Monte Carlo, a low-profile romantic comedy from Fox that opened with $7.6 million on this very crowded weekend. The film cost $20 million, so money should be made somewhere down the line.

There was lots of holdover news, so I’ll try to make it brief. Cars 2 more-or-less crashed and burned in its second weekend, dropping a shocking (especially for Pixar) 62% in weekend two. The film grossed $25 million over Fri-Sun, or about what it made on its first day last weekend. Still, the critically-lambasted sequel has $116 million in the domestic bank, with the real jackpot hopefully waiting overseas and with merchandising rights. The drop and subsequent lower-than-expected final cum is more of a morale defeat that a real one. Pixar will be fine, so let’s not judge too harshly. Despite what pundits want to think, this was not a soulless cash-grab, but a case of John Lasseter doing ‘one for me’ (he loves the old cars and old spy movies) that happens to be a merchandising cash cow. In happier animation news, Kung Fu Panda 2 held on just a little longer, ending the weekend with $157 million and (more importantly) crossing $500 million worldwide. Paramount’s Super 8 crossed the $100 million mark over the weekend and will end the holiday with $109 million (or $47 million, adjusted for 1985 nostalgia-fueled inflation).

The big news this weekend was the several benchmarks passed by Bridesmaids. It surpassed Knocked Up and Talladega Nights on Thursday to become the biggest film Judd Apatow has ever been involved in. Today, it passed Sex and the City as the biggest female-driven comedy ever. It’s now the seventh-biggest romantic comedy in history (if you want to call it a romcom… your call). At $153.7 million, it’s also the 9th-biggest R-rated comedy ever and the 22nd biggest R-rated film period. So let’s keep up the Oscar buzz for Kristen Wiig, shall we? Last weekend’s other big opener, Bad Teacher, dropped 55% but still sits at $60 million, or triple its budget. X-Men: First Class is heading towards $140 million while it has surpassed $325 million worldwide. Mr. Popper’s Penguins crossed $50 million. And, finally, Green Lantern crossed $100 million this weekend, for what little that’s worth.

That’s it for this weekend. The numbers will be updated as the four-day holiday figures arrive. Join us next weekend for the debuts of Horrible Bosses and The Zookeeper.

To read more go to Mendelson Memos

Photo by Paramount Studios

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About Scott Mendelson

Mendelson's Memos: The basics - 30 years old, married with one child, currently residing in Woodland Hills, CA. I am simply a longtime film critic and pundit of sorts, especially in the realm of box office. The main content will be film reviews, trailer reviews, essays, and box office analysis and comparison. I also syndicate myself at The Huffington Post and Open Salon. I will update as often as my schedule allows. Yes, I'm on Facebook/Twitter/LinkIn, so feel free to find me there. All comments are appreciated, just be civil and try to keep a level discourse, as I will make every effort to do the same. Read more at Mendelson's Memos:

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