By Anthony D'Alessandro | Thompson on Hollywood July 10, 2011 at 4:24AM
Paramount’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon remained in full orbit at the weekend box office, earning $47 million and revving its domestic total to $261 million to overtake The Hangover Part II ($250.8 million) as the highest-grossing film of the year.
The other majors saw this coming: "they were warned,” as Optimus Prime would say. Rather than attempting to sideswipe Transformers 3 with another tentpole, Warner Bros./New Line and Sony/MGM both managed to outshine their estimates by counterprogramming comedies, R-rated Horrible Bosses ($28 million) and PG talking-animal movie Zookeeper ($21 million), respectively.
Transformers 3 fell 52% -- one of the better declines for a 3-D film this year, behind Thor’s -47% sophomore frame and ahead of Pirates 4’s -56%. Given the amount of cash Transformers 3 is packing in its trunk, in addition to the 23% spike it enjoyed on Saturday night, there’s no denying that 3-D is lubricating its till. Overseas, Transformers 3 has amassed $384 million, raising its global cume to $645 million.
Warner Bros. and New Line execs applaud the results of Horrible Bosses, which beat the $26.2 million bow of Bridesmaids. Given the film’s low budget of $38 million, the studio would have been cheered by a $22 million opening, knowing they could still turn a profit. But it’s evident from the film's 5% uptick on Saturday and its A- Cinemascore (among 51% males and the 36% under-25 crowd) that Horrible Bosses can expect long-term summer employment at the movie theater. “With those exits we expect to hold,” gloated Jeffrey Goldstein, Warner Bros. senior vp of domestic distribution. Execs are crossing their fingers that Horrible Bosses will emulate the sleeper path of Wedding Crashers ($209.3 million). Another bonus for Horrible Bosses: critics gave it a pass at 73% fresh.
Much like Bad Teacher ($78.8 million) for Cameron Diaz, Horrible Bosses reps a game-changer for Jennifer Aniston, segueing from her romantic comedy safe haven to anarchistic laffers. From the moment the film was announced, word spread that Aniston was breaking her ‘Good Girl’ persona to play a potty-mouthed nymphomaniac. ‘Will she or won’t she appear nude?’ in the film became the driving hook. Some have argued that she's only as good as her male leads at the B.O>, but Horrible Bosses dismisses that notion. As Aniston did the talk show circuit (The Daily Show and Chelsea Lately), her appearance on The Actors Studio drew several praise for her candid, diva-less take on stardom.
The entire ensemble delivers on Horrible Bosses, which broadens audience appeal for Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day following their respective also-rans, Hall Pass ($45.1 million) and Going the Distance ($17.8 million) while upping the leading man status of Jason Bateman who should trigger more belly laughs on August 5 with The Change Up.
Sony knew last year that Zookeeper was a keeper for the summer after it scored lofty results in test screenings. Though Zookeeper didn’t hit a Paul Blart:Mall Cop ($31.8 million) opening for Kevin James, that can be largely attributed to its hefty competition. The film scored a healthy A- Cinemascore among the under-18 crowd (overall was B+). Families made up 52% of the crowd; moms hoarded 53% of seats. Critics would rather be locked in a zoo than watch it at 15% rotten.
While post-holidays frames are notorious for losing audiences, a majority of the top ten films boasted solid holds. Bridesmaids($158.2 million) and Midnight in Paris ($38.7 million) tied for 11th with $2.7 million apiece with the latter closing in on Hannah and Her Sisters ($40.1 million) as Woody Allen’s highest stateside grosser.
Top Ten Weekend Box Office Chart
1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon $47 million down 52% in its second weekend at 4,107 theaters. $11,450 theater average. Domestic total: $261 million.
2. Horrible Bosses (WB/New Line) $28.1 million in its first weekend at 3,040 theaters. $9,247 theater average. Domestic total: $28.1 million.
3. Zookeeper (Sony) $21 million in its first weekend at 3,482 theaters. $6,031 theater average. Domestic total: $21 million.
4. Cars 2 (Disney) $15.2 million down 42% in its third weekend at 3,990 theaters. $3,812 theater average. Domestic total: $148.8 million.
5. Bad Teacher (Sony) $9 million down 38% in its third weekend at 2,962 theaters. $3,038 theater average. Domestic total: $78.8 million.
6. Larry Crowne (U/Vendome) $6.3 million down 52% in its second weekend at 2,976 theaters. $2,105 theater average. Domestic total: $26.5 million.
7. Super 8 (Paramount) $4.8 million down 39% in its fifth weekend at 2,292 theaters. $2,105 theater average. Domestic total: $118.1 million.
8. Monte Carlo (Fox/Regency) $3.8 million down 49% in its second weekend at 2,473 theaters. $1,537 theater average. Domestic total: $16.1 million.
9. Green Lantern (Warner Bros.) $3.13 million down 52% in its fourth weekend at 2,015 theaters. $1,551 theater average. Domestic total: $109.7 million.
10. Mr. Popper’s Penguins (Fox) $2.85 million down 48% in its fourth weekend at 1,996 theaters. $1,428 theater average. Domestic total: $57.7 million.
Horrible Bosses, Warner Bros., USA | Dir: Seth Gordon; Cast: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell | TOH! Review & Round-up | 88% Tomatometer | 59% Metacritic | Caryn James calls it "The Real Hangover Sequel."