Weekend Report: 'Transformers' Stays on Top, 'Bosses' Fires 'Zookeeper'
Transformers: Dark of the Moon held on to first place in its second weekend, and actually showed some improvement over the last Transformers installment. Among openers, Horrible Bosses extended the winning streak for R-rated comedies this Summer, while Zookeeper wound up in third on middling results. Overall box office was off around 19 percent from the same period last year, when Despicable Me debuted to a huge $56.4 million.

Transformers fell 52 percent to $47.1 million. That was a lighter decline and a higher second weekend gross than those for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, indicating that Dark of the Moon is maintaining interest at a higher rate than its often maligned predecessor (though, to be fair, Transformers 2's second Saturday was muted by the Fourth of July). On Sunday, Dark of the Moon passed The Hangover Part II to become 2011's top-grossing movie, and its 12-day total currently sits at a healthy $261.1 million.

Horrible Bosses opened to $28.3 million, which was up from Bridesmaids but a bit off from Bad Teacher among Summer 2011's original R-rated comedies. It's also the top-grossing opening ever for a dark/black comedy, beating out The Stepford Wives remake. In a single weekend, it bested its cast members' Summer 2010 projects Going the Distance (Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day) and The Switch (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston).

Horrible Bosses had a lot going for it heading in to the weekend. Distributor Warner Bros. executed a strong, omnipresent marketing effort, clearly explaining the movie'a premise that pitted three lesser-known leads (Bateman, Sudeikis, Day) against three movie stars (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Aniston), with Farrell and Aniston notably playing against type. Plenty of laughs were mixed in with the well-articulated story, and they were presented in a character-oriented way so as to suggest there was more to come in the full-length movie. To top it all off, the trailer and many commercials were cleverly set to Cage the Elephant's "Ain't No Rest For the Wicked," which lined up well with the movie's upbeat tempo but dark themes. Horrible Bosses' audience skewed slightly male (51 percent), while 64 percent were over the age of 25 years old, according to Warner Bros.

Zookeeper launched to $20.1 million. That was an improvement over Kevin James' last movie, The Dilemma, but way down from the rest of his oeuvre, most notably Paul Blart: Mall Cop ($31.8 million). It also had a leg up on last summer's talking animal movies, Marmaduke and Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, but in general it's not an impressive start within the popular subgenre.

While Horrible Bosses felt fresh, Zookeeper reeked of formula. It was transparently conceived as a mash-up of hugely successful movies like Night at the Museum, Doctor Dolittle and Hitch, which could have worked out had the marketing been more compelling. Unfortunately, ads focused almost entirely on the flat relationship between James' titular character and a Nick Nolte-voiced gorilla, while opting to mostly avoid any sort of story. What's particularly odd about this is that, despite Adam Sandler and Kevin James's solid track record together, there was virtually no attempt to highlight the movie's Sandler-voiced monkey.

Zookeeper was greenlit immediately after the overwhelming success of Paul Blart: Mall Cop gave the impression that Mr. James could open a movie on his own. At the time, the movie sounded like a home run but unfortunately the original distributor MGM ran in to a mess of financial issues and the movie ended up being delayed a full year from its original release date in July 2010. In that time, Mr. James' star may have cooled a little, and family audiences have almost certainly grown less interested in the talking animal subgenre. Zookeeper could still pick up steam: Yogi Bear, for example, opened to just $16.4 million in December before ultimately closing north of $100 million, though that was a Christmas movie and was the exception, not the rule. Distributor Sony Pictures' research showed that 52 percent of Zookeeper's audience was parents and their children, and that 53 percent was female.

Cars 2 stabilized a bit, dipping 42 percent to $15.2 million. That was a steeper decline than the first Cars had at the same point, and, as of Friday, Cars 2 began lagging behind its predecessor in total gross. The animated sequel has so far made $148.8 million and is the least-attended Pixar movie at this point in its run.

Bad Teacher was surprisingly unfazed by Horrible Bosses debut, easing 39 percent to $8.9 million. Through its third weekend, the Cameron Diaz comedy has earned $78.7 million.

Larry Crowne and Monte Carlo did little to save face in their second weekends. Larry Crowne fell 55 percent to $5.9 million for a weak $26.2 million total, and it will be the lowest-grossing Tom Hanks movie since at least The Ladykillers in 2004. It did manage to eclipse Hanks' last directorial effort from 1996, That Thing You Do!, though it's unlikely to match that movie's attendance figures. Monte Carlo held a bit better than Larry Crowne: the Selena Gomez vehicle dipped 44 percent to $3.8 million for a total of $16.1 million.

Rounding out the Top 12, Midnight in Paris declined 26 percent to $2.6 million. With a total of $38.6 million, it's now a lock to pass Hannah and Her Sisters ($40.1 million) to become director Woody Allen's highest-grossing movie ever. Still, it will never reach Annie Hall, Manhattan, Hannah and a few other older Allen movies in attendance.

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Last Weekend:

'Transformers' Claims Independence Gross Record

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2010 - 'Despicable Me' Dominates, 'Predators' Solid But Unspectacular

• 2009 - 'Bruno' Not as Brawny as 'Borat'

• 2008 - 'Hellboy II' Sizzles

• 2007 - 'Harry Potter' Flies with the 'Phoenix'

• 2006 - 'Pirates' Raids Record Books

• 2005 - 'Fantastic Four' Heats Up the Summer Box Office

Related Charts

Weekend Box Office Results

• Showdown: 'Horrible Bosses' Vs. 'Bad Teacher' Vs. 'Bridesmaids'

• Showdown: 'Transformers' Vs. 'Transformers'

• Showdown: 'Cars 2' Vs. 'Cars' Vs. 'Toy Story 3'

• Showdown: 'Green Lantern' Vs. 'Thor' Vs. 'X-Men'