Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon scores $13.5 million in Tuesday night and midnight sneaks. What does it mean for the long weekend?

Oh boy, it's time for more midnight math! The Frances McDormand/John Malkovich/John Turturro epic  Transformers: Dark of the Moon grossed $13.5 million last night.  That includes $5.5 million worth of advance-night (9pm) screenings and $8 million worth of midnight showings.  That number is just a bit under the $16 million that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen grossed in pure midnight screenings two years ago.  And it's about 50% larger than the $8.8 million that the original Transformers earned with its advance night + midnight screenings over this same uber-long weekend back in 2007.  There is actually quite a bit of comparison calculations possible, since both prior films opened over a six day weekend of sorts (the second film did the normal Wed-Sun non-holiday weekend, but with massive midnight totals that basically are equal to the third film's advance-night performance).  So, the first film opened with $8.8 million in Monday-night sneaks, then made $27 million on its first full day and ended its official Tuesday-to-Sunday six-day weekend with $155.4 million (5.6% of that came from advance-night screenings).  The sequel earned $62 million on its first full day, with $16 million of that coming from midnight showings, and went on to earn $200 million over its Wednesday-to-Monday five-day sprint (8% of that came from midnight screenings).  So where does this leave Transformers: Dark of the Moon?

Glad you asked (and if you didn't ask, why are you still reading this?).  Anyway, If Transformers 3 follows the same slow-and-steady run of the first Transformers (it basically averaged about $27 million per day following a $27 million opening Tuesday), the third film will score about $240 million by Monday night.  That's an obscene number and sequels tend to be far more frontloaded than the originals.  So let's presume it hews closer to the first sequel.  If the film follows the somewhat more frontloaded path of Revenge of the Fallen, it will end Monday night with about $170 million, or right in line with studio projections.  So game over, Transformers: Dark of the Moon will gross about $170 million over six days, right?  Maybe, but it's not quite that simple.

But this is where the five-day opening weekend versus six-day opening weekend complicates things.  The $16 million worth of midnight screenings were included in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's opening day.  Take that out (as you arguably did with Transformers and will with Transformers: Dark of the Moon's gross today), and you get a Wednesday gross for Revenge of the Fallen of $46 million.  With this comparison, Dark of the Moon is on track to earn about $41 million in pure-Wendesday grosses.  So add $41 to today's $13.5 million and you get a $54.5 million 'opening day', which of course is pretty close to the $62 million earned by Transformers 2 on its opening day.  So take the $170 million allegedly to be earned by Transformers: Dark of the Moon, remember that it's a six-day weekend and not a five-day weekend like Revenge of the Fallen.  So take $170 million, divide it by five, take that difference ($34 million) and multiply IT by six days.  That gives you a six-day opening weekend of $204 million.  Take that 204 + 170 and divide the answer by two, and you get $187 million for six days.  And that is where I believe the third Transformers film will end its sixth day by the time the last Fourth-of-July firework goes off.  But this is all just fun with math.  We'll know more (much more) when the opening day numbers come in.

Scott Mendelson       

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