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Box Office: 'Transformers,' a U.S. hit, soars even higher abroad [Updated]

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“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” demolished its enemies at the domestic box office this weekend, but the film really made a killing overseas.

The 3-D movie, the third in a franchise about alien robots that transform into vehicles, opened in the U.S. and Canada on Tuesday night and has since raked in $181.1 million, according to an estimate from distributor Paramount Pictures. While that’s a very solid domestic start for the film, the movie’s six-day ticket sales still fell short of the second “Transformers” film, "Revenge of the Fallen.” That film, which did not have the benefit of 3-D ticket surcharges, collected $214 million in the same time frame in 2009. But international grosses for “Dark of the Moon” were far higher than they were for “Revenge of the Fallen.” The latest “Transformers” got off to an excellent start abroad this weekend, taking in $217 million from 58 markets –- 51% ahead of “Revenge of the Fallen’s” $129.6 million opening.

Bojul4The two other new films that opened over the holiday weekend, “Larry Crowne” and “Monte Carlo,” did not generate fireworks at the box office. "Larry Crowne," an adult comedy directed, co-written by and starring Tom Hanks along with Julia Roberts, grossed $15.6 million over the four-day weekend -- a relatively small opening for a film starring two A-list movie stars. "Monte Carlo," a teen romance starring Disney Channel star Selena Gomez, collected a similarly modest $8.8 million.

Both films were beaten by last weekend's No. 1 film, the animated "Cars 2," which made an additional $32.1 million. But the sequel had a disappointing 60% drop in ticket sales, the biggest second-weekend decline for any animated film ever released by Pixar. "Bad Teacher," also in its second week of release, came in third at the box office this weekend. Audiences who saw the film last weekend assigned it an average grade of only C+, according to market research firm CinemaScore, but the movie was still able to grab another $17.6 million this weekend.

"Transformers: Dark of the Moon," meanwhile, benefited from strong word of mouth. Despite receiving savage critical reviews, the movie was a crowd-pleaser: Those who saw the film -- 62% of whom were male -- loved it, giving it an average grade of A. While "Dark of the Moon" had grossed far less than "Revenge of the Fallen" on Wednesday, its Friday-through-Monday total only lagged 6% behind the second "Transformers" film. That indicates that the latest film could have stronger buzz than "Revenge of the Fallen," which received a B+ CinemaScore.

"Revenge of the Fallen" ended up with $402.1 million in ticket sales at the end of its domestic run -- a number "Dark of the Moon" may be able to match. But the third film, which cost Paramount about $200 million to produce, will likely outgross the second overseas. The latest "Transformers" film is already well on its way to surpassing the $434 million international haul of "Revenge of the Fallen," due in part to 3-D ticket prices. Overseas, roughly 70% of ticket sales for "Dark of the Moon" came from 3-D screenings, compared with around 60% domestically.

The film debuted in the No. 1 spot in 57 of the 58 foreign markets in which it opened this weekend. The movie performed best in South Korea, where it had the nation's biggest-ever opening for a film, $30 million. In Russia, where Paramount held the movie's world premiere in Moscow earlier this month, the film collected $22 million.

Larrycrowne "Larry Crowne," however, did not have nearly as great of a reach. The movie, about a middle-age man who decides to attend community college after he loses his job, appealed largely to older females: 64% of the audience was female, and 81% were over the age of 35. The film received an average grade of B.

While the movie had only a soft opening, both Hanks and Roberts have seen worse: Their 2007 film "Charlie Wilson's War" only grossed $9.7 million over its first three days in release. Even though "Larry Crowne's" debut was disappointing for a film with such recognizable stars, the film will likely end up in decent shape because it was inexpensive to produce. The picture was financed by Vendôme Pictures for about $30 million, but is being released by Universal Pictures, which is paying for the film's marketing and collecting a distribution fee.

"Monte Carlo," which stars tween singer-actress Gomez as a young woman who travels to Europe and is mistaken for royalty there, was better-received by its young audience, who gave it an average grade of A-. Like "Larry Crowne," the teen flick also had a small budget. The PG-rated film was produced by Fox 2000 Pictures -- a 20th Century Fox label -- and New Regency Pictures for about $20 million. Overseas, the movie opened in 11 markets, including Russia and Singapore, and grossed $1.3 million there.

[Updated, 10:09 a.m.: In limited release, Summit Entertainment expanded Chris Weitz's immigration drama "A Better Life" from four to 11 theaters and collected a decent $124,000 over four days for a per-theater average of $11,272.

Here are the top 10 movies in the U.S. and Canada, based on their four-day grosses. Percentage drops are based on three-day grosses. International grosses are through Sunday only.

1. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" (Paramount): Opened to $116.4 million. $217 million overseas in 58 foreign markets. Domestic total: $181.1 million.

2. "Cars 2" (Disney/Pixar): $32.1 million on its second weekend, down 60%. $22.1 million overseas in 19 foreign markets. Domestic total: $123 million. International total: $82.2 million.

3. "Bad Teacher" (Sony): $17.6 million on its second weekend, down 54%. $6.7 million overseas in 25 foreign markets. Domestic total: $63 million. International total: $28.6 million.

4. "Larry Crowne" (Universal/Vendôme): Opened to $15.7 million.

5. "Super 8" (Paramount): $9.5 million on its fourth weekend, down 35%. $3.6 million overseas in 30 foreign markets. Domestic total: $110.1 million. International total: $45 million.

6. "Monte Carlo" (Fox/New Regency): Opened to $8.8 million. $1.3 million overseas in 11 foreign markets.

7. "Green Lantern" (Warner Bros.): $8 million on its third weekend, down 64%. $1.7 million overseas in 16 foreign markets. Domestic total: $103.7 million. International total: $33.3 million.

8. "Mr. Popper's Penguins" (Fox): $6.9 million on its third weekend, down 46%. $5.7 million overseas in 22 foreign markets. Domestic total: $51.9 million. International total: $11.1 million.

9. "Bridesmaids" (Universal/Relativity): $4.4 million on its eighth weekend, down 32%. $7.2 million overseas in 11 foreign markets. Domestic total: $153.7 million. International total: $34.8 million.

10. "Midnight in Paris" (Sony Pictures Classics): $4.3 million on its seventh weekend, down 15%. Domestic total: $34.5 million.]

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Box office: 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' lagging in U.S. but booming overseas

-- Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Top photo: Shia LaBeouf stars in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Bumblebee the robot. Credits: Paramount Pictures.

Bottom photo: Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks star in "Larry Crowne." Credit: Universal Pictures.

 
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