Paramount's high-profile sequel hits theaters

Paramount’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” pushes the pedal to the metal Wednesday as it opens day and date around the globe, looking to transform into an instant blockbuster and guarantee a future for the toy line-turned-film franchise.

The summer’s highest-profile action tentpole, “Transformers” begins playing at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Pic goes out in 4,226 theaters domestically. Of those, 169 are Imax theaters.

“Transformers 2″ was expected to do north of $10 million in midnight shows alone, with many of those runs selling out.

Online movie ticketing site Fandango said Monday that pre-sales for “Revenge of the Fallen” were the biggest for any movie so far this year.

Overseas, pic will bow in every territory save for Italy and India.

It got off to an impressive start in the U.K. and Japan last weekend, grossing $19.6 million from 833 runs. Movie took north of $14 million from 517 runs in the U.K., far ahead of the original “Transformers” and coming within 3% of “The Dark Knight’s” opening weekend gross.

Stateside, box office observers believe “Revenge of the Fallen” will have no trouble scoring the best five-day opening ever for a film debuting on a Wednesday. (Current record-holder is Sony’s “Spider-Man 2″ at $152.4 million.)

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is the record-holder for best opening day for a Wednesday release at $44.2 million.

Original “Transformers” opened on a Monday night, grossed $155.4 million through the following Sunday. Pic cumed $319 million domestic and $389 million overseas for a worldwide tally of $708.3 million.

Sequel reteams director Michael Bay with stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. Scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (“Star Trek”) likewise returned to pen the script. Steven Spielberg exec produced both films, while Lorenzo di Bonaventura is a producer.

“Revenge of the Fallen” is receiving less-than-glowing reviews in North America, but even rival studios believe the tentpole is largely immune to bad notices.

Pic doesn’t have direct competition until Par’s “G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra” opens in early August. That’s because other studios with action event pics wanted to steer clear of the “Transformers” sequel.

There’s still a few tentpoles left to unspool. On July 1, 20th Century Fox’s 3-D toon “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs” opens, followed by “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” on July 15.

Bay’s sequel is tracking most strongly among young men, with young females and older males running even with each other. Older females are the weakest quadrant.

Going in, the first films had hardly any female interest, but that changed as the movie caught fire.

Warner Bros. will look to fill the gender gap with “My Sister’s Keeper,” starring Abigail Breslin and Cameron Diaz. Pic opens nationwide Friday.

Opening in a limited run is Summit Entertainment’s war drama “The Hurt Locker,” directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Pic goes out in four runs in Los Angeles and New York.

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more