MCN Blogs
David Poland

By David Poland

Transformer Weekend

Obviously, $36.3m in a day and a half is very strong… as always, we will have no idea what it all adds up to until it actually starts adding up. Could be War of the Worlds… could be Spider-Man 2… could, in theory, be the biggest July 4 movie ever.
20% of the films that opened bigger never got to $250m, including 300, X2, and The Da Vinci Code, none of which hit $220m domestic. If Transformers turned out to be 300, X2, or X3 worldwide, Paramount would be in a fight to make money with the film… a lot depending on how much they get from Hasbro’s sales.
On the other hand, if Don Murphy turned out to be right and the film becomes the 26th film in history to make $300 domestic in real dollars, it is likely to crack $650 million worldwide, as there are no examples in the last 20 years of a film not hitting that 650 after doing 300 at home.

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77 Responses to “Transformer Weekend”

  1. Don Murphy says:

    IF Don Murphy turned out to be right?

  2. David Poland says:

    Nothing shocking yet, Don. You still could be on the way to $225 million. Or not.
    It’s not a dick measuring issue. It’s just the way box office works.

  3. martin says:

    Dave, your 220-300 plus range is spot on domestically. It’s hard to read these early #’s other than establishing it will at least break 200. But I think you may be underselling its international prospects. It seems to me like it’s the sort of film that will play well in any language.
    Opening #’s suggest 250-300 domestic. And the foreign #’s may beat that 2:1.
    Also, I don’t know how this factors into box office tracking, but I would expect the cinemascore #’s for “would see again” to be very high. The film is hitting a very specific demo that is likely to go back for more.

  4. austinwave says:

    Transformers is shaping up to be the surprise hit of the summer that no one was counting on. I expect Don will be a very happy man come Sunday when the box office figures are released.

  5. Don Murphy says:

    Huh? I was counting on it.
    David- it has nothing to do with dicks. If it did we all know you are hung like Donkey Kong and could take us all.
    It’s just that I have spoken.

  6. Tofu says:

    Surprise hit?!? It is a big budget CGI-fest released on July 4th. Let’s not go freakin’ crazy here.

  7. Aladdin Sane says:

    It’s definitely got repeat factor going for it. Most of my friends want to see it at least once more within the next couple of weeks…

  8. doug r says:

    High side of $250 million. Asked my 12 year old which movie she wanted to see again. Her answer: Ratatoullie!

  9. jeffmcm says:

    “It’s just that I have spoken.”
    And you feed your people too, right?

  10. martin says:

    Agreed Doug, I’m sure Paramount will be disappointed to hear that 12 yr old girls are not interested in their movie.

  11. Don Murphy says:

    Cowardly Jeff- huh?
    My 10 year old niece loved it.

  12. Joe Leydon says:

    When people start talking about how this or that demographic isn’t supposed to like Transformers, I have to laugh. Look, I’m 54, going on 55, and my wife is 58. Our 20-year-old son was not quite old enough to catch Transformer mania when he was small — he was more of a Ninja Turtle/He-Man/Power Ranger fanatic — so we’ve never really been heavily exposed to the toys, the comic books or the cartoon shows at any time. There’s absolutely no nostalgia factor here. And we both enjoyed the movie. Will we go see it again? Doubtful. Are we glad we paid to see it in a theater? Definitely.

  13. Jimmy the Gent says:

    You are a lucky man. I like older women.

  14. Joe Leydon says:

    Jimmy: Yeah, but here’s the grim news: She’s always looked younger than me, but even more so after my hair and beard turned gray. When we went to Ozzfest ’01, people told us how sweet it looked for me to be out with my daughter and grandson.

  15. Joe Straat says:

    Joe, he was a He-Man fan mixed with Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers? That’s strikes me as kind of odd, since He-Man was more of the Transformers kids. I’m 25 and was with the transition period between the He-Man, GI Joe, Transformers crazes and the Ninja Turtles craze. My brother’s 4 years older and was all Master sof the Universe and Transformers (Oh, and Star Wars). I was much more on the end of the Ninja Turtles, but I do remember seeing the Transformers (animated) and Masters of the Universe movies in theaters, and when I saw Ghostbusters 2, distinctly thinking as a 7 year-old, “Hey, having kids reference He-Man is slightly old hat, isn’t it?” (In much less sophisticated terms. I have trouble vocalizing my inner-child, I guess. Oh, and I didn’t consider they might be older kids). I would NEVER grow up being critical of the movies I watched. No siree.
    Anyway, not making a big deal of it. Just something I found interesting. Hell, Voltron was aging by the time I got old enough to understand anything aobut anything and I was still a fan.

  16. Joe Leydon says:

    Ah, but there’s a factor you did not consider: Years after the peak of their popularity, episodes of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” (and “She-Ra”) were in daily afternnon reruns on the USA Network. By that time, most of the toys could be purchased very cheaply at discount stores, and the book spin-offs were remaindered, so he wound up getting a lot more toys and books than he might have otherwise. But he didn’t care: They were all new to him. (I still have a dozen or so collections of “He-Man” epiodes — on Beta tape.) He was very into “He-Man” — and, for that matter, “Thundercats,” also in reruns — at around the same time Ninja Turtles first appeared on the scene.

  17. ployp says:

    The theater was half full when I saw Transformer in Thailand. I don’t know how much people here know of the toys, but Thais generally like big action stuff. It’s easier to understand than drama, less of a language barrier. I expect it to do quite well here. As of now, it’s made 91 million Baht (current exchange rate is 34 Baht/USD). I know that sounds little, but in terms of Thai boxoffice, it might as well be $100 million. In fact, it is the benchmark.

  18. Noah says:

    I don’t really care if Transformers does well or poorly, but Mr. Murphy sure makes it hard to root for him.

  19. Geoff says:

    Congratulations, Don, on a great opening day. I’ll give credit where credit is due – the film opened to more than I thought it would.
    Of course, a LOT can happen between now and Sunday – the film could build or fade, very quickly. However, the confidence of your comments tells me that you know Wednesday’s numbers and that they are encouraging. Otherwise, you’d be keeping your mouth shut.
    So what happened, Don? Did it actually go up, today? Are we looking at $30 million plus on its second day? If so, consider me very impressed. If the film dropped to the teens, then forget about “BIGGEST MOVIE OF THE SUMMER.”
    If your film is going to make its $300 million plus, it’s going to need to get half of that, this week, before Potter hits.
    So which is it?

  20. anghus says:

    Here’s my Pirates 3 WHA HUH? scenario.
    if it makes it to 150 million by Sunday, shouldn’t 300 domestically be a lock?
    still, after a bbq today with a few dozen people, most of the people there had seen it and were overwhelmingly positive. My favorite quote:
    That’s the best piece of garbage i’ve ever seen.

  21. Ju-osh says:

    Would you mind explaining what it is you personally do when producing a giant blockbuster for the studios? What elements do you have a direct hand in and which ones do you not?
    I asked you this a few boards below, but before you could answer, the thread got rerouted by what M. Bay (apparently) said (he thought) you did.

  22. Don Murphy says:

    JU OSH- I’m not being evasive by saying “it depends” and “it varies.” Every movie I have done has started with me and I have been extremely involved and important with every one of them for years before they achieve lift off. With Shoot Em Up coming up I was involved with virtually every single decision as was my producing partner Susan. With TF, since I was doing SEU and of course no one really tells Michael very much what to do, I was less involved once we started filming. Same could be said about every producer and every film- it varies, but inevitably starts with you.

  23. Jimmy the Gent says:

    You got a photo online somewhere?
    You two are big Ozzy fans? That’s kinda cool in a Spinal Tap kinda way. Was it a good show?
    FYI: I’m from San Antonio. Just graduated and am trying to get work as a movie journo. I prefer criticism.

  24. Jimmy the Gent says:

    That should be Joe, not Joek.
    I need to cut out the Red Bull.

  25. jeffmcm says:

    Don, I’m still happy to meet up with you, but not if it’s just going to be two guys pissed off at each other, especially because you’re bigger than I am and can afford better lawyers. The classy thing to do would be for you to invite a group to a beer, like your old pal George Hickenlooper did a couple of months ago, and where I was the only attendee.

  26. Joe Leydon says:

    Just click on my name and you’ll see my blog. With my photo. Ozzie (with Black Sabbath) was great that night. But, then again, so was Slipknot and Marilyn Manson.
    BTW: I prefer Monster to Red Bull. For one thing, bigger cans.

  27. Don Murphy says:

    I don’t know about a group but we can meet next week you and I.
    Don’t worry it is not to fight. It’s to hug.

  28. A manly hug, right?!
    Anyway. It was obvious that Transformers was going to be successful right off the bat, but I hope it continues out. For once a movie such as this could become a huge smash when it’s actually good. Kind of like how when the original Pirates of the Caribbean became a hit.
    There’s also big news with Ratatouille. Click the links below to read about it. Good to hear!

  29. It was a record line for me at the Vista tonight to see this. Never made it past the Loz Feliz Village sign before…

  30. Spacesheik says:

    If a piece of pop culture shit like SHREK THE THIRD can reach $300 million, so can TRANSFORMERS.

  31. ThriceDamned says:

    Hey Don,
    Just wanted to get your opinion on the blog entry Michael Bay supposedly posted on his blog and subsequently took down, as reported by Nikki Finke on Deadline Hollywood Daily.
    Excerpts specifically mentioning you:
    “I cut my fee 30% so I could make this at home. I knew this was right for the movie so I asked the other producers to join

  32. EDouglas says:

    Without seeing weekend numbers, I’d think that $276 – 280 million domestically would be about where this is heading. It’ll be interesting to see if it loses a ton of screens when Harry Potter opens (I know a few theatres putting it on 7 screens), but it will probably end the weekend with close to $150 million which is a good start.

  33. Geoff says:

    Typically, Don did not directly answer my last posting, but Nikki Finke is now reporting that it went UP on July 4th to about $29 million. That is a big deal. $150 million by the end of Sunday is certainly within reach. Consider myself impressed. Still a chance that this thing could drop by the weekend, but looking less likely.
    And don’t look now, but another web site is saying that Ratatouillie DOUBLED on July 4th ($15 mil) – that movie is strongly building. No doubt it should break $200 million.
    And with Die Hard holding well, it looks like these three films could save the summer. And July is looking pretty strong. The Simpsons is still a whild car – could do $80 mill or maybe $150 mill.

  34. Spacesheik says:

    TRANSFORMERS could make a minimum of $125 million for 6.5 days according to Finke : .
    It’s gonna be a huge hit.
    We used to worry about TRANSFORMERS getting bruised by HARRY POTTER but I think the opposite will occur; the movie is a b.o. juggernaut -it’s gonna slice into POTTER’s opening not vice versa.

  35. Geoff says:

    Spacesheik, you might be right. Seems to be that audiences might be tiring of the same old, same old.
    However, no Potter film has opened below $90 million. Could this really drop below that, in light of all of the hype for the new book? And the last movie had solid legs, too.
    Still have to see how Transformers performs, this weekend. It do the equivalent of two full weekends, before next week, so that might open the field a bit for Potter.

  36. Kambei says:

    K Camel: Monday was a national holiday in Canada, which probably added a bit to the Ratatouille box office, I would imagine.

  37. EDouglas says:

    Saving a summer where we ALREADY have three $300 million movies (which has never happened before in a single summer?)… Thank God for that or else I’d be worried! 🙂

  38. Spacesheik says:

    “However, no Potter film has opened below $90 million. Could this really drop below that, in light of all of the hype for the new book? And the last movie had solid legs, too.”
    You are spot on, Geoff, but there may be some fatigue concerning POTTER (inside word is the flick has a tired feel to it even though it is the shortest in the series: 140 plus minutes).
    The POTTER flicks are renergized by different directors and different visions but they all are similar in tone and certainly in marketing (posters, trailers etc).
    I really don’t know if July is the right month for POTTER, Christmas or Thanksgiving seems like a traditional POTTER time. It will probably do very well but not as good as the others, the law of diminishing returns and all.

  39. Tofu says:

    Geoff, Chamber of Secrets (the second movie) opened to $88.3 million.
    Spacesheik, Goblet of Fire (the fourth and latest movie) threw the law of diminishing returns on its ear, becoming the second highest grossing of the series.
    Transformers is engineered to burn twice as bright as other vehicles, so Potter with its marketing blitz shouldn’t have to worry in the long run there. Folks at my midnight screening of Transformers were asking about the new Potter flick not five minutes after the credits had rolled. Repeat crowds are going out this weekend. Talk about the marketplace moving faster!
    What Potter has to worry about is… Itself. With the book coming out eight days after, there are few of the fanbase that will be bothered to see the movie again on the following Saturday or Sunday. Too busy reading the final, and thus most hyped book (which has already topped Amazon’s pre-order record, with three weeks left).
    Potter was wise to move from the always crowded June, and to stake a claim at that post July 4th market that Dead Man’s Chest so sufficiently wallowed in. Would a Thanksgiving release be the better business decision? Likely, with Golden Compass filling the December Narnia slot, three weeks in November of this year were free to ravage. Still, the films are on a strict year and a half production schedule, and come hell or highwater, they are being released in that fashion.

  40. teambanzai says:

    I saw Transformers Tuesday at the Arclight and the audience was over 80% male and 95%+ fans so it will be interesting to see the numbers after the built in audience is done. The last three Star Wars opened strong due to the fan base but dropped off after the first few days.

  41. Direwolf says:

    Who is reporting that Ratatouille did $15 million yesterday? If so, it would be running even to slightly ahead of Cars after six days of release despite falling $13 million short the first weekend. Cars ended at $244 million domestic but was a relatively poor performer by Pixar standards internationally. I’d think Rat would play much better abroad than Cars. Cars second weekend was -44%. Given the extra holiday boost mid-week that will probably be a good test figure to see if Rat is tracking towards Cars doemstically.

  42. MASON says:

    Wow, a 125 opening weekend. If he can just eek out another 25 over the rest of the summer, you’ll have been proved correct Dave!
    I kid, I kid. Hell, I remembering thinking License to Wed had the makings of a profitable flick, so obviously I’m retarded.
    Bay’s blog entry was hilarious. Very few A-listers are that candid.

  43. Don Murphy says:

    Not sure WHAT to say about that piece of ranting except to point out that I think Michael made an amazing film and I am lucky to have worked with him. He made THE perfect version of this film. Nikki couldn’t have checked with anyone over the Fourth of July and as David rightly points out, she is an opinionated blogger with an axe to grind.
    The funniest shit ever is the idea that I would be asked to cut my fee on a $147 m summer blockbuster. Think for a second- people cut their fees on small, personal indie films. Do you really think people cut their fees on blockbusters?
    Anyways, for the record, when I called it the biggest summer film ever it wasn’t out of disrespect for David or his prognostications. It’s just that I’ve been dealing with the fans now for years, I’ve seen the name recognition and the brand awareness. There was simply no question that this was huge huge. It’s no boast, or dick swinging- just living it.

  44. martin says:

    I don’t know that Nikki has anything personal against the film/filmmakers, she’s done a good job reporting the #’s Don. But apparently someone e-mailed her the google cache from Bay’s post (which was only up a few hrs) and this is fun tabloid fodder. Couldn’t you use your muscle to have her take it down?

  45. Don Murphy says:

    So then she is a tabloidist, Martin? Just want to get the nomenclature right- she’s not a blogger with an axe to grind she is a tabloidist? Tell me what is proper usage these days.

  46. Wrecktum says:

    Rat did not do $15m on 7/4 but its $10.5 is still pretty damn great.

  47. Don Murphy says:

    I am going to see Rat today I bet it is fucking genius.

  48. ThriceDamned says:

    “The funniest shit ever is the idea that I would be asked to cut my fee on a $147 m summer blockbuster. Think for a second- people cut their fees on small, personal indie films. Do you really think people cut their fees on blockbusters?”
    I take it that the “rant” is authentic Bay then? If so, is he then lying about cutting his fee 30%, and asking you to do the same?
    I agree that for a 150m movie, it sounds weird, but not an unprecedented move for a principal player on a big vehicle to do (James Cameron did it on Titanic, obviously to be hugely rewarded later on)

  49. martin says:

    The correct nomenclature? What are you, Walter Sobchak?

  50. martin says:

    Bay has cut his fee before, so I have no doubt that he did it on this film as well. But it is a weird request on a summer blockbuster production, unless he could offer additional back-end points in return.

  51. frankbooth says:

    Don wants to give you big ol’ bear hug, Jeff. Don’t mind the vertebrae.
    (So you were the only one there? I put your head in a fuckin’ vice ’til your eye pops out, and that’s it?! Did the three of you just sit there and stare at each other?)
    Don, I’ll meet you if you’re ever up my way, in Lumberton-by-the-Bay.

  52. Alan Cerny says:

    “Potter was wise to move from the always crowded June, and to stake a claim at that post July 4th market that Dead Man’s Chest so sufficiently wallowed in. Would a Thanksgiving release be the better business decision? Likely, with Golden Compass filling the December Narnia slot, three weeks in November of this year were free to ravage. Still, the films are on a strict year and a half production schedule, and come hell or highwater, they are being released in that fashion.”
    I’m pretty convinced that GOLDEN COMPASS will flop, actually. Then again, I didn’t like the books too much.

  53. teambanzai says:

    Had no idea Golden Compass was based on a book, of course I had never heard of the Narnia books either. The previes for Compass look good, but some fantasy has trouble attracting an audience. And as long as I’m on that line what’s the feeling on Stardust then?

  54. Crow T Robot says:

    I think we need to have a “Lunch with Jeffmcm” segment where Jeff and Don Murphy sit down at Ammo and Don tells us about the bliss of megasuccess — and what he really thinks of Bay adding pole dancer chicks, urinating robots and Dance Dance Revolution to his beloved property.
    Seriously, I’ll ask a couple DVX shooters on my show if they’d do it for free.

  55. mysteryperfecta says:

    I went to our (one and only, 12-screen) theater on the 4th for the 2:20 showing of Ratatouille with my daughter, and the lobby was packed to the gills. Transformers was the likely draw, as the 1:00 showing had sold out. Transformers had 8 total showtimes, as did Rat and Die Hard (two screens a piece).
    I don’t know whether I’d like Transformers or not, but after seeing a movie with heart, wit, character development and story emphasis, it might be quite a come down to go see an ILM demo reel. But whatever the box office total, Transformers should be OK– my 6-year old nephew got 4 of them for his birthday party yesterday. The toys sell.

  56. Lota says:

    Heh heh Robot I’d pay to see that Lunch! It might have to be rated NC-17 for language, extreme mental cruelty and brain implosions. Have paramedics on standby. Blood-typing can be done really fast these days.
    I’m not happy with “pole dancer chicks, urinating robots and Dance Dance Revolution” but I am glad when anything based on toys and comics is successful.
    and If the buyer for my patent comes through I’ll put up 500K-1M for DOn’s next project (as long as I like it & get finan incentives).

  57. Rothchild says:

    I called over 300 domestic a month ago on here, but c’est la vie. It’s funny that the movie could be up to 200 before Harry Potter even comes out. Which is where a lot of people felt it would end up. This is where I stop talking about the numbers. It’s going to be a goddamn robotic monster, and I’m glad.
    Look, anyone that thought Michael Bay making a movie about giant robots beating the shit out of each other (and based on a very popular property) wasn’t going to be a GIGANTIC hit doesn’t think things through.

  58. Wrecktum says:

    Considering that Michael Bay’s highest grossing film to this point only hit $200m, I don’t think that tempered expectations weren’t unreasonable.

  59. Rothchild says:

    But he’d never made a PG-13, kid friendly movie (based on a very popular property) about giant robots that beat the shit out of each other. The thing no one seems to be touching on is that there’s isn’t another director alive (well, Cameron has dissapeared on us) that could make a giant-robots-that-beat-the-shit-out-of-each-other movie this well. It’s one of those “this is what I should have been doing all along” epiphanies that a few people have in life.

  60. Amblinman says:

    Wrectum, I don’t think Bay’s previous BO has much to do with predicting success or failure. People don’t go to see a MICHAEL BAY film the way they would a STEVEN SPIELBERG film or a JAMES CAMERON film. I think Transformers just happens to be one of those properties that lots of folks wanted to see made into a movie using today’s effects.

  61. Don Murphy says:

    So anyway Jeff finish the loo up and email me I have no other way of contacting you

  62. EthanG says:

    Holy crap. $29 million on Wednesday…July 4th record. $175 million through Sunday is within reach at this speed.
    Rat is about to overtake Cars.
    Here’s the good news for Hollywood. While Tuesday was up 73% over last year’s Tuesday, which is great because that Tuesday was July 4th….yesterday was up a seismic 188% over the previous year. 188%!

  63. T.Holly says:

    Ju-osh, I think this article pretty much sums up where Don’s involvement left off. How/When did Murphy and DeSanto get hitched? TF is Paramount’s new Rosemary’s Baby.

  64. T.Holly says:

    (Drats, I meant to put this here.)
    And while I’m at it, I don’t see Don or Tom hanging out in here anywhere:

  65. jeffmcm says:

    To be fair, T. Holly, Lorenzo, Ian, or Spielberg aren’t in there either. Just Bay.

  66. T.Holly says:

    Don, can you say “producers’ notes?”

  67. mutinyco says:

    MCM — you’re linking improperly to your new blog. There should be a period before ‘blogspot’ not a @ symbol. It’s a website not an e-mail address.

  68. Don Murphy says:

    no worries Jeff- what Tholly knows about the filmmaking process could fill a matchbook.

  69. T.Holly says:

    Ooh, light my fire, Don. What are you doing next with DeSanto. I think I would have liked your version of TF better: “Several people involved with the movie noted acidly, for example, that Mr. DeSanto and Mr. Murphy

  70. jeffmcm says:

    Thanks, Mutinyco, missed it and sorry for the lack of content.

  71. T.Holly says:

    No need to be sorry, it’s more like “thank goodness.”

  72. Chucky in Jersey says:

    Mr. Holly must be reliving the Summer of Love. Why else would he give props to the #1 song of that year in L.A.
    Paramount needed a mega-opening on “Transformers” to overcome the stench from “A Mighty Heart”. At least 5 arthouses near me will drop “Heart” tomorrow.

  73. jeffmcm says:

    T. Holly, I typically have problems understanding your garble, but I think you just insulted me? Care to confirm?
    A Mighty Heart is a Paramount _Vantage_ movie with a budget under $20m. They were trying to counterprogram with it, Transformers’ opening really has nothing to do with it. I’m guessing they’ll try and relaunch it in the fall.

  74. T.Holly says:

    Ms. Holly mentioned it because Robert Evans saved Paramount with Rosemary’s Baby.

  75. chris says:

    Wait. We all know DP is hung? Has TMZ posted some video I hadn’t heard about?

  76. T.Holly says:

    That’s it, retire the post.

Leonard Klady's Friday Estimates
Friday Screens % Chg Cume
Title Gross Thtr % Chgn Cume
Venom 33 4250 NEW 33
A Star is Born 15.7 3686 NEW 15.7
Smallfoot 3.5 4131 -46% 31.3
Night School 3.5 3019 -63% 37.9
The House Wirh a Clock in its Walls 1.8 3463 -43% 49.5
A Simple Favor 1 2408 -50% 46.6
The Nun 0.75 2264 -52% 111.5
Hell Fest 0.6 2297 -70% 7.4
Crazy Rich Asians 0.6 1466 -51% 167.6
The Predator 0.25 1643 -77% 49.3
Also Debuting
The Hate U Give 0.17 36
Shine 85,600 609
Exes Baggage 75,900 62
NOTA 71,300 138
96 61,600 62
Andhadhun 55,000 54
Afsar 45,400 33
Project Gutenberg 36,000 17
Love Yatri 22,300 41
Hello, Mrs. Money 22,200 37
Studio 54 5,300 1
Loving Pablo 4,200 15
3-Day Estimates Weekend % Chg Cume
No Good Dead 24.4 (11,230) NEW 24.4
Dolphin Tale 2 16.6 (4,540) NEW 16.6
Guardians of the Galaxy 7.9 (2,550) -23% 305.8
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 4.8 (1,630) -26% 181.1
The Drop 4.4 (5,480) NEW 4.4
Let's Be Cops 4.3 (1,570) -22% 73
If I Stay 4.0 (1,320) -28% 44.9
The November Man 2.8 (1,030) -36% 22.5
The Giver 2.5 (1,120) -26% 41.2
The Hundred-Foot Journey 2.5 (1,270) -21% 49.4