Contrary to reports, there's not much more to the weekend box office than meets the eye — not with Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Megatron and the rest of the "Transformers" ready to steamroll the competition. To put it another way, there's a clear box-office champ this weekend, and it sure as heck doesn't come in disguise.
The story of how one boy's love for his pet (robot) becomes the most powerful force in the universe, "Transformers" is director Michael Bay's latest ode to forgotten American values and ideals.
Also, sh-- gets blown up. A lot.
It's a rock-'em, sock-'em contest between good (the Autobots) and bad (the Decepticons), with stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese caught in the middle, squeezed on all sides by the enormous transforming robots. (If you want to know how that feels, ask John McClane or Remy the rat.) In a nearly unprecedented move, "Transformers" opened Monday evening and is already pulling in big bucks — assuredly positioning itself for a record-breaking first weekend, given that the Fourth of July holiday lands smack-dab in the middle. The flick hauled in an estimated $36 million its first 36 hours in theaters — and on Tuesday, "Transformers" earned $27.4 million, snapping the previous $15.7 million record set by "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."
Our nation's birthday is being counted on by more than just giant robots to boost attendance. Since vacationing children will soon be joined by their suddenly available parents, Disney executives are telling analysts that it would be premature to judge "Ratatouille" before the week is out. But the animated flick about a Parisian rat with culinary aspirations only made $47.2 million last weekend, the lowest for a Pixar movie in nearly 10 years.
Among the other competitors is "Joshua," a limited-release thriller about an eccentric (read: evil) boy and the confused (read: imperiled) parents who are too dumb to rent "The Omen" for some quick pointers on how to deal with the situation. The flick stars Sam Rockwell (read: arguably the most underrated actor of his generation) and Vera Farmiga (read: can't watch her without thinking of the washing-machine scene from "Running Scared") and was directed by "Hell House" documentarian George Ratliff, who is making his narrative-feature debut.
Ten years ago is the last time we've had a calendar that looked remotely like it will on Saturday — 7/7/07, the so-called "luckiest day of the millennium." Reports indicate it's a popular day for weddings, but will audiences want to watch one on the big screen? That's the hope for Robin Williams and Mandy Moore, whose "License to Wed" opens in 2,000 theaters this weekend (see " 'License To Wed' Was One Big 'Office' Party, Thanks To John Krasinski").
The Predictions: Will the box office say "I do"? Not bloody likely. With that in mind, we asked our experts how much they thought "Transformers" would make — and for the first time ever, invited not one but two celebrity guests to the game. There are few movies in Hollywood right now with better buzz than August 17's "Superbad" (a.k.a. the next Judd Apatow comedy; he produces), and even fewer young actors as funny as the flick's stars, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. Let the fireworks begin.
What's the #1 flick? How much will it rake in?
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer: "Transformers" ($90 million)
"The bottom line is that 'Transformers' is the best Michael Bay movie of all time. How you feel about his past efforts will determine whether that means anything to you, but the fact remains that a lot of moviegoers will spend this weekend watching Shia running away from green screens. Even without the classic theme, Bay's flick will finish with $90 million — but if they had put in the song, I might've gone to $91 mil."
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor: "Transformers" ($80 million)
"Two words: Giant robots. Two more: Michael Bay. And finally, three more: Box-office monster. That's what 'Transformers' clearly is after its massive opening earlier this week. Seemingly made from the stuff of summer-movie tent-pole dreams, there is no doubt this one is laying waste to the competition. Somewhere, a Gobots movie just got the green light."
Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, "Superbad": "Transformers" ($27 million and $855,334.27, respectively — we think, after doing some converting)
Jonah Hill: "Obviously, it's gonna be 'Transformers.' "
Michael Cera: "What's 'Joshua'?"
Hill: "That's my buddy, Sam! Sam Rockwell! Yeah! I heard that movie's awesome."
Cera: "I'm going to go with that one."
Hill: "Um, I really think you're dumb if you don't choose 'Transformers.' I think it's going to be like the biggest movie ever."
Cera: "OK, I'm pretty sure 'Transformers,' then. I've got a good hunch on this one."
Hill: "What did 'Stomp the Yard' make opening weekend?"
Cera: "Opening weekend? Twenty six (million)[actual figure: $22 million]. And this is like 'Stomp the Yard,' but with Transformers in it."
Hill: "OK, then. I'm going to say $27 million."
Cera: "I'm going to say 105 million yen."
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