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‘Transformers’ sets B.O.’s best 2011 debut

Par pic hauls in $37.315 million on Wednesday

When the dust settled Thursday, Paramount’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” had scored a total $37.315 million the previous day, making it the year’s best U.S. opening-day tally — not to mention an important case study for flagging 3D.

“Transformers,” which grossed $8 million in midnight grosses, beat the $35 million domestic debut benchmark for 2011, a record originally set by “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” (That pic opened on a Friday, but during a non-holiday frame.)

In total, “Transformers” collected $69.8 million globally Wednesday, with $32.5 million from overseas wickets.

The film so far has amassed $79.4 million worldwide, including overseas previews and the $5.5 million earned from Par’s 3D-only domestic play time before midnight Tuesday.

That’s a stellar worldwide start for “Transformers”; in fact, the pic beat its predecessor internationally by 38% in comparable territories like Russia and France, where in the latter territory, “Transformers” also stands as this year’s best local opening day perf.

But domestically, the third “Transformers” pic fell drastically short of matching the second offering’s $62 million debut day.

Imax contributed a total $5.1 million of the pic’s global cume from 235 worldwide locations. Of that, $3.3 million came from 146 Stateside Imax runs, while the mega-screen exhib’s 89 overseas locations contributed the remaining $1.7 million.

Likely one of the weekend’s biggest focal points for “Transformers” will be 3D, which earned 60% of the film’s domestic opening-day gross, down from the format’s 70% share from midnight screenings. (Pic’s overall Stateside 3D share could continue to slip through Monday.) But there’s still some hope for “Transformers” in 3D considering the format’s domestic contribution vs. opening 3D debut shares in many overseas territories.

For instance, in South Korea, 3D earned 53% of its opening day and 65% in India. Most European markets, however, did better in 3D: The U.K. saw 70%; Germany, 93%.

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