Optimus prime for weekend rule

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"Typically, when the Fourth falls on a Wednesday, business goes down," DreamWorks spokesman Marvin Levy said. "So the fact that it went up is a tremendous surprise to all of us. Certainly, it was a record-breaking Fourth of July."

Buena Vista Pictures' release of Pixar Animation Studios' "Ratatouille," the G-rated toon directed by Brad Bird and set in a Parisian kitchen, built momentum of its own during the holiday.

The movie bowed last weekend in first place with $47 million — a low number for a Pixar title (last summer's "Cars" arrived to $60.1 million and Bird's previous film, "The Incredibles," debuted at $70.5 million) — but "Ratatouille" now appears to be picking up ground.

On Monday, it grossed $7.5 million, the best Monday performance ever for a Pixar movie, outdistancing the $6.95 million that "Finding Nemo" took in on its best Monday. On Tuesday, the film collected $7.85 million, beating "Nemo's" best Tuesday number of $7.18 million. "Ratatouille" also registered a jump Wednesday and pulled in $10.2 million for the day, the best Wednesday performance for a Pixar movie, supplanting "Toy Story 2's" $9.5 million. As of Wednesday, the critically applauded film had collected an estimated $72.6 million.

After six days, "Ratatouille" was just a shade below the six-day, $73.3 million gross of "Monsters, Inc." and was chasing the six-day, $78 million gross of "Cars."

"When you go in the summer, the proportion of business that comes from weekend business changes," Buena Vista president of distribution Chuck Viane said. "In the fall, 70% of the total week's business comes out of the weekend, but in the summer, the weekend accounts for 55%-60% of the week's business, with the rest moving to weekdays."

20th Century Fox's "Die Hard" also contributed to the holiday's explosion. The PG-13 actioner — which opened a week ago Wednesday — rolled along, taking in an estimated $4.5 million Tuesday and an estimated $6.1 million Wednesday, bringing its estimated cume to more than $63 million.

Warner Bros. Pictures' romantic comedy "License to Wed" is heading into the weekend as an also-ran. The PG comedy directed by Ken Kwapis, in which Robin Williams plays a reverend who offers off-beat marital counseling to Mandy Moore and John Krasinski, was positioned as counterprogramming to attract female audiences. But it ran headlong into a slew of withering reviews and has grossed an estimated $5.2 million in 2,401 theaters since opening Tuesday.

For the upcoming three-day portion of what for many Americans is an extended holiday weekend, "Transformers' " haul should total about $60 million. While Paramount continues to downplay expectations — which has the effect of making the resulting numbers even more impressive — the movie is on track to coast beyond the $100 million mark and could even surpass $125 million.

While openings during the Fourth of July week make for inexact comparisons because the holiday falls on different weekdays, "Transformers' " 61/2-day gross is guaranteed to beat the $96.1 million that "Independence Day" earned in more than 51/2 days in 1996 and the $100.5 million that "War of the Worlds" took in over five days in 2005.

By the end of its first 10 days, "Ratatouille" should cross the $100 million mark with the help of a weekend in the $30 million range. "Die Hard" also should see a three-day gross in the high-teen-million range, which would see its cume rise to the low- to mid-$80 million range.

On the more limited front, Lionsgate Films' release of the Weinstein Co.'s "Sicko," from Michael Moore, added theaters Tuesday to increase its count to 626 locations and will up that to 702 today. Its cumulative gross stands at an estimated $7.2 million.
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