'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' Draws Younger Audience, Bucking Trend

6:33 PM PST 07/05/2011 by Pamela McClintock
© Paramount Pictures

Michael Bay's movie also is the first summer event film since "Thor" to draw the majority of its grosses from 3D theaters.

So it took the 'bots to lure younger moviegoers back to the multiplex en masse.

According to exit polling, 55% of the audience turning out to see Paramount's Transformers: Dark of the Moon at the domestic box office was under the age of 25.

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It's the first time in months that a general-audience film hasn't appealed mostly to the 25-plus crowd and helps to explain why the July 4th holiday tentpole was able to gross an impressive $180.7 million in its six-day debut (the pic opened Wednesday following 3D sneaks Tuesday night).

Many speculate that younger people are getting priced out of going to the movies, but agree that content also is a major issue.

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Dark of the Moon's domestic launch didn't match its $218 international opening but came closer than expected. All told, Dark of the Moon opened to $398.7 million worldwide.

In North America, Dark of the Moon earned $97.9 million for the weekend proper and $115.9 million for the four-day holiday weekend. That's by far the best showing of the year at the domestic box office. The previous best was Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, which opened to $90.2 million.

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Dark of the Moon received a glowing A CinemaScore, a better grade than the B+ earned by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

The biggest chunk of the audience for Dark of the Moon -- or 32% -- was under the age of 18, according to CinemaScore data. They were even more gung-ho than the rest, giving Dark of the Moonan A+.

Just 16% of the audience was between the ages of 35 and 49 and only 8% above 50 (the 50-plus crowd was the only demo to give the film a B, in this case a B+).

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Dark of the Moon bucked another trend, the recent downturn in 3D attendance.

It's the first summer event pic since Thorto draw the majority of its grosses, or 60%, from 3D theaters after an aggressive marketing push by Paramount.

There's been a dramatic decline in 3D attendance this summer, sparking alarm across studio lots. The most recent example was Disney/Pixar's Cars 2, which only saw 37% of its grosses coming from 3D.

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Dark of the Moon's 3D performance was in line with what studios used to be able to count on until now (55% to 65%).

The international box office hasn't seen the same downturn in 3D, with 70% of Dark of the Moon's opening grosses coming from 3D locations.

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