Weekend Report: 'Transformers' Fends Off 'Ice Age' in Close Independence Weekend
Giant robots narrowly socked it to anachronistic dinosaurs over Independence Day weekend. With actual grosses reporting, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen weighed in with $42.3 million, while Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs came in at $41.7 million. Distributors Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox had estimated $42.5 million for each movie, which was the first time two studios had the same weekend estimate since 1998, when Titanic and The Man in the Iron Mask were in a photo finish. Paramount ended up having the more accurate Sunday projection, and that was the difference as both pictures were neck-and-neck on Friday and Saturday. With Public Enemies debuting solidly in third, business as a whole was up a tick from the same weekend last year, when Hancock was in charge.

Overall, Revenge of the Fallen has had a far more winning run than Dawn of the Dinosaurs. It will pass its predecessor's final gross in a matter of days, while the Ice Age sequel's five-day start was less than that of its predecessor, Ice Age: The Meltdown. Playing on approximately 7,100 screens at 4,099 sites, Dawn of the Dinosaurs gathered $66.7 million in five days (55 percent of which from 1,606 3D venues), while The Meltdown's five-day was $75.6 million. Dawn's five-day attendance was effectively on par with the first Ice Age, and distributor 20th Century Fox's research suggested that 55 percent of the audience were families.

While the Ice Age franchise's migration from spring to a more competitive summer might be bandied about as a reason for Dawn of the Dinosaurs relatively more glacial reception, the picture suffered from looking like more of the same in its marketing campaign. No compelling reason was presented to make it as big a theatrical event as The Meltdown, and the proceedings may have been confounded by the addition of dinosaurs, which were seemingly intended as a shortcut to audience expansion.

Revenge of the Fallen retreated 61 percent, compared to the first Transformers' 47 percent second weekend drop, but it has raked in a gargantuan $293.4 million in 12 days, while the first movie had $212.3 million through the same point. IMAX accounted for an estimated $4.6 million of Revenge of the Fallen's weekend. While the picture broke the IMAX opening record last weekend, it ranked third among second weekends, behind Star Trek and The Dark Knight. The IMAX run has accumulated $23.9 million at 169 sites, or eight percent of the overall total.

Public Enemies racked up $25.3 million on around 4,900 screens at 3,334 sites over the weekend, banking $40.1 million since its Wednesday debut. It was one of the biggest openings on record for a gangster picture, and it sold more tickets in five days than such past summer crime movies as Road to Perdition and Collateral. In its advertising, Public Enemies hit the right notes people enjoy in crime pictures, from the swagger to the shoot-outs, and it helped having Johnny Depp in the lead, playing a different kind of pirate. Distributor Universal Pictures' exit polling indicated that 53 percent of the audience was male and that there was a near even split between those 25 years and older and those under 25.

Among nationwide releases, The Proposal had the smallest decline, easing 31 percent to $12.9 million and lifting its total to $94.3 million in 17 days. The summer's most eye-popping breakout hit so far, The Hangover, crossed the $200 million milestone on its 30th day. It's no longer out-drawing Wedding Crashers and There's Something About Mary on a weekend basis, down 34 percent to $11.3 million this time out, but it's way ahead overall, even after adjusting for ticket price inflation.

Losing 3D screens to the new Ice Age impacted Up a bit. Pixar's adventure comedy fell 50 percent to $6.5 million, increasing its tally to $264.8 million in 38 days. It flew past The Incredibles to become the second highest-grossing Pixar movie, although, adjusted for ticket price inflation, it ranks seventh. Meanwhile, My Sister's Keeper seemed to have little traction, depleting by 53 percent to $5.8 million for $26.5 million in ten days, while Away We Go and Whatever Works continued their modest runs in limited release.

Like its predecessor, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs delivered much higher numbers overseas than it did domestically. In its first five days, it pulled in $151.7 million from 12,267 screens in 101 markets (not including Japan, China, South Korea or Italy). On a mano a mano country basis, it exceeded the debut of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, no slouch itself. Revenge of the Fallen unearthed $56.5 million, propelling its total to $300.5 million.

Last Weekend

'Revenge of the Fallen' Rises with Optimal Debut

This Timeframe in Past Years:

• 2008 - 'Hancock' Soars

• 2007 - Moviegoers Spark to 'Transformers'

• 2006 - 'Pirates' Raid Record Books

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

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