‘Transformers’ Conquers Box Office With Record-Busting First Week

Action flick earns $152.5 million in its first week, the largest seven-day opening for a non-sequel.

The Top Five

#1 “Transformers” ($67.6 million)
#2 “Ratatouille” ($29 million)
#3 “Live Free or Die Hard” ($17.4 million)
#4 “License to Wed” ($10.4 million)
#5 “Evan Almighty” ($8.1 million)

Let’s face it: our culture has an unhealthy and irrational fear that someday machines will enslave us and take over the world, and our movies have reflected that for the better part of the last 25 years — from “The Terminator” to “Robocop” to “The Matrix.” And lest you think I don’t take that threat seriously, I’ve been vigilantly keeping an eye on all my electronic devices since I moved into my own apartment (and appropriately chiding my toaster when it burns my bread. Make sure it knows who’s boss).

But the problem isn’t our own machines — I realize now, all too late — but robots from other planets, who arrived this week from Cybertron intent on total global domination, firing their first salvo by dominating the Fourth of July box office (our most American of holidays, those jerks).

Opening in over 4,000 theaters last Monday, Michael Bay’s “Transformers” scored $152.5 million over six days, which already gives it the largest seven-day opening for a non-sequel in history (with one more day to go), more than “Spider-Man” ($151.6 million), “The Passion of the Christ” ($144.6 million), and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” ($129.4 million). The gargantuan haul included $29 million on July 4 and $67.6 million over the weekend. Add in $93 million from overseas markets, and it’s clear there’s not much more than meets the eye to this one: robots finally, mercilessly, have us humans dominated.

But can we at least get a last meal? If so, we hope it’s cooked by Remy the rat, the culinary critter at the heart of Brad Bird’s “Ratatouille.” With $29 million since Friday, Pixar’s latest fell only 38.3 percent in its second weekend, a strong enough showing to indicate that after a tepid opening by animation standards, “Ratatouille” has the legs to serve just deserts to all who called it the end of Pixar’s dominance.

Amid a surplus of computer-generated characters in the weekend’s top two, John McClane stood at #3 as, perhaps, humanity’s last great hope. The fourth installment in the old-school action series, “Live Free or Die Hard,” took in $17.4 million over the weekend — bringing its two-week total to a respectable $84.1 million.

While the other big new release of the week, Mandy Moore’s “License to Wed,” came in fourth place with $10.4 million over the weekend, “Evan Almighty,” in fifth place, continued to sink. The biblically themed family movie is the most expensive comedy ever made — and it’s not likely to even reach $100 million domestically.

How’d We Do?

Before handing another weekend crown to movie’s editor Josh Horowitz, whose prediction of “Transformers” at #1 with $80 million was closest to the mark (see “Transformers Ready To Ruin Mandy Moore’s Wedding And Trample Evil Kid, In Projection Booth ), we’d like to pause to retroactively laud our celebrity guests, Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, whose back-and-forth was not only the funniest prediction we’ve ever had, but the first one we can remember to be given in Yen. Their “Superbad” doesn’t come out until August, but super bad is surely how our competitors must feel, looking at Josh’s nearly insurmountable lead.

Prognosticator (Weeks Won)
Josh Horowitz, MTV Movies editor (20)
Larry Carroll, MTV News writer (10)
Celebrity guest (6)

In Perspective

He can be called the king of cacophony, the sultan of special effects, and the emperor of explosions, but there’s one more thing critics of Michael Bay need to acknowledge — the guy’s also a maharajah of mo-dollahs (OK, that last one was a stretch). Already the youngest director to reach $1 billion in worldwide grosses, Bay added to his impressive tally with “Transformers.” Here are his top-five grossing movies of all-time.

#1 “Armageddon” ($201.6 million)
#2 “Pearl Harbor” ($198.5 million)
#3 “Transformers” ($152.5 million)
#4 “Bad Boys II” ($138.5 million)
#5 “The Rock” ($134 million)

Next Week

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” apparates itself into theaters July 11 (see “Harry Potter’s Magical Tale Might Be Truer To Life Than You Think” ), no doubt leaving rival studios feeling like they’ve been caught too near a Dementor or two. (So powerful is the series, we’re told, it’s being referred to around town as “The Franchise Which Shall Not Be Named.”) Not much suspense here: Dumbledore’s Army is the surest bet to win next weekend.

Check out everything we’ve got on “Transformers”, “Ratatouille” and “Live Free or Die Hard.”

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