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'Transformers' pulling ahead of 'Ice Age,' 'Public Enemies' at box office

July 4, 2009 | 10:14 am

PublicE It's looking like neither prehistoric animals nor John Dillinger will be able take down the "Transformers."

Paramount's big-budget event picture declined 51% on Friday from the same day last week, a relatively small amount for a film with such a massive opening, and sold $17.8 million worth of tickets domestically, according to studio estimates.

"Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," which opened Wednesday, came in just a bit behind with $17 million on Friday. Because most Americans were off work Friday, families could have attended matinees just as easily as on a typical Saturday, meaning there's no reason the third film in the series from animation studio Blue Sky couldn't have come in at No. 1 if it were going to win the weekend.

Universal's Michael Mann-directed gangster drama "Public Enemies" was a respectable No. 3 with $10.1 million.

The big question for the industry remains how depressed ticket sales will be today with most Americans celebrating the Fourth of July on a Saturday, traditionally the most busy moviegoing day of the week. According to the Weather Channel, there could be thunderstorms in parts of the Midwest, Southeast and New England, which may be Hollywood's best shot at keeping audiences away from picnics and fireworks and in multiplexes.

Without a surprisingly strong Saturday, however, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" probably will gross close to $50 million for the weekend, while "Ice Age" will end up in the low 40s and "Public Enemies" closer to $30 million. The five-day gross for the latter two films since they opened Wednesday would then be about $70 million and $43 million, respectively -- decent but far from fantastic starts.

The most impressive performance continues to be that of "Transformers." Given its huge $109-million opening weekend, a drop of about 50% would indicate that interest in the film remains very strong and it's on track to ultimately gross well over $400 million domestically, not to mention its impressive foreign earnings.

"Revenge of the Fallen" pulled ahead of "Up" on Friday to become the No. 1 movie at the domestic box office this year, with total ticket sales of $268.7 million. By Sunday it probably will be very close to, and possibly over, $300 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Johnny Depp in "Public Enemies." Credit: Peter Mountain / Universal Studios

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