Robust robots rule box office

'Transformers' ignites holiday fireworks

Setting off fireworks at the box office, DreamWorks and Paramount’s “Transformers” made an estimated $27.4 million in its first full day from 4,011 screens, the best box office draw ever for a Tuesday.

The pic is enjoying a 6 1/2 day opening, since it began screening on more than 3,000 screens Monday night, beginning at 8 p.m. Factoring in Monday’s take of $8.8 million, the film’s domestic cume was $36.2 million heading into the July 4 holiday. Opening early in several overseas territories, pic’s international cume stands at more than $36 million.

That’s not all DreamWorks and parent studio Par were celebrating. “Transformers,” directed by Michael Bay, gives DreamWorks its first clear shot at a live-action franchise at a time when several of the other mega franchises have ended, sending studios scrambling.

And in a summer dominated by sequels, “Transformers” stands apart as an original tentpole.

Warner Bros. laffer “License to Wed” didn’t fare nearly so well. Pic made an estimated $2.2 million from 2,401 theaters as it opened Tuesday.

But “Transformers” wasn’t the only pic reaping the benefits of the extended holiday frame. Movie attendance has been high this week, with many people off work and kids out of school. That gave a boost to several holdover titles.

Disney-Pixar’s “Ratatoutille,” which debuted at No. 1 over the weekend, made a healthy $7.9 million Tuesday, bringing its total cume to $62.4 million. 20th Century Fox’s “Live Free or Die Hard” likewise held up especially well at an estimated $4.5 million Tuesday. Pic’s total take is now $57.1 million.

Expanding from 441 screens to more than 600, Michael Moore’s “Sicko” made $750,000 Tuesday, bringing the film’s total gross to $5.8 million.

Paramount and DreamWorks report that “Transformers” is playing well across all four quadrants, despite its male-centric focus. They say the split is about 60% males and 40% females.

Based on the Hasbro robot toy line, “Transformers” stars Shia LaBeouf.

July 4 itself has never been a huge moviegoing day, so the box office could take something of a dip on Wednesday before going up again.

Many expect “Transformers” to cross the $125 million mark domestically for the 6½ days.

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