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'Transformers' scares up strong box office numbers in midnight open

June 24, 2009 | 12:12 pm


Good thing you can't read reviews in the dark.

Paramount's "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" earned $16 million from midnight showings last night, making it No. 3 on the list of midnight showings, not accounting for inflation. Warner Bros.' "The Dark Knight" grossed $18.5 million in its late-night opening last summer, and LucasFilm and Fox's "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith" took in $16.9 million in 2005.

Those movies opened on a Friday and Thursday, respectively. "Revenge of the Fallen" has set the record for a Wednesday, a slightly harder feat, since it comes earlier in the week, when late-night outings are less frequent.

With $16 million already in the bank and early-day ticket sales looking strong, according to a person with access to up-to-date ticketing data, "Transformers" has a good shot at beating the all-time record for Wednesday grosses of $44.2 million, set by "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in 2007. The "Transformers" film, based on the 1980s toys and cartoons, cost nearly $200 million to produce.

The smash-'em-up thrill ride showed that hype can still out-muscle acclaim, at least on opening night. Most critics were not kind to the latest entry in the "Transformers" franchise, and it will be interesting to see if word-of-mouth affects the film over the next few days.

The film played midnight shows at about 3,000 theaters and is in 4,234 today through the weekend. And 169 of its locations are Imax. Those are, according to the person watching ticketing data, already proving particularly popular.

— Ben Fritz

Photo: "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Credit: Paramount Pictures