'Transformers,' 'Ice Age' tie at boxoffice

'The Hangover' passes $200 million mark

The weekend battle for boxoffice supremacy remains caught in a haze of holiday fireworks.

Paramount's effects-driven actioner "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" and Fox's 3D animated family threequel "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" each posted weekend grosses estimated at $42.5 million pending today's final studio numbers. The "Transformers" sequel -- produced by Paramount, DreamWorks and Hasbro -- fell 61% in its second weekend for $293.5 million in cumulative boxoffice through 12 days of domestic release.

"Ice Age" boasts a $67.5 million cume since bowing Wednesday. Universal's Johnny Depp starrer "Public Enemies" finished the three-day Fourth of July session in third place with $26.2 million in weekend boxoffice, capping a five-day debut of $41 million.

Both wide openers performed roughly as anticipated, so the tight race for No. 1 represented a modest underperformance by the "Transformers" sequel through the competitive holiday frame.

Elsewhere among the top rankings, Warner Bros.' R-rated comedy "The Hangover" fetched another $10.4 million in fifth place to become the year's fourth $200 million grosser. The cume for the Todd Phillips-helmed pic passed that milestone Saturday -- the quickest such spurt for a restricted comedy -- and reached $204.2 million through Sunday.

Warners' female-targeted drama "My Sister's Keeper," starring Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin, slid 58% in its sophomore session to $5.3 million in seventh place, with a $26 million cume.

The weekend's top 10 films marked a 2% uptick compared with the same frame last year with a collective $152.9 million, Nielsen EDI said.

Friday business appeared heavier than normal, but Saturday grosses were down across the board. Adult pics and younger-oriented fare posted respectable numbers during the holiday, but Americans' preoccupation with barbecuing and fireworks took a bit of the spark out of the daily grosses.

Among notable expansions, Sony Pictures Classics added 320 playdates for a total of 355 for Woody Allen's "Whatever Works" and grossed $1.1 million, or an acceptable $3,006 per engagement. The cume for the Larry David-toplined comedy reached $2 million.

Miramax added 64 theaters for a total of 140 for Stephen Frears' "Cheri," grossing $388,000, or a so-so $2,771 per venue. The cume on the Michelle Pfeiffer starrer reached $1 million.

And Summit Entertainment added five locations for a total of nine on Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War drama "The Hurt Locker," grossing $126,000, or a solid $14,000 per site, as its cume climbed to $365,000.

The "Transformers" sequel was filmed for a reported $200 million and carries costly backend commitments to director Michael Bay, not to mention hefty global marketing expenses. But with its worldwide boxoffice approaching $600 million, Paramount and its co-producer partners already might be treading into profitability, and a potentially leggy theatrical run and deep ancillary revenue should help the rich get richer.

The Shia LaBeouf-Megan Fox starrer's domestic haul during the weekend included $4.6 million in boxoffice from Imax specialty venues, whose cume on the film totals an Imax-record $24 million. The sequel, shot with Imax cameras to maximize playability in that format, posted an impressive $27,000 million per location from its Imax runs during the frame.

With a midweek bow undercutting its weekend boxoffice, "Dinosaurs" marked a less bountiful initial frame than its two predecessors. The 2002 franchise starter "Ice Age" opened with $46.3 million en route to grossing $176.4 million domestically; the 2006 sequel, "Ice Age: The Meltdown," rang up $68 million its first weekend and $195.3 million overall.

Boasting 1,606 3D auditoriums among its 4,099 playdates, the threequel attracted opening audiences comprised 55% of family patrons.

"We're in rarefied air," Fox senior vp distribution Bert Livingston said. "To be neck and neck with 'Transformers' is amazing."

Co-directed by "Meltdown" helmer Carlos Saldanha and Mike Thurmeier, a writer on the first "Ice Age," "Dinosaurs" boasts a voice cast featuring franchise staples Denis Leary, John Leguizamo and Ray Romano and totes production costs set at $90 million.

Helmed by Michael Mann ("Miami Vice"), "Enemies" casts Depp as John Dillinger, with Christian Bale co-starring as an FBI agent charged with hunting the famed bank robber and Marion Cotillard ("La Vie en Rose") as Dillinger's girlfriend. Opening audiences skewed 53% male and were evenly divided between patrons younger and older than 25.

"Fans of the adult film can rejoice," Universal marketing and distribution topper Adam Fogelson said. "In the midst of all this lovely, wonderful pure popcorn fare, there is an audience for what is not only an entertaining movie but also has higher artistic aspirations."

Produced for an estimated $100 million, "Enemies" has a two-hour, 23-minute running time that makes it difficult to shoehorn in a normal number of showtimes. But at two hours, 40 minutes, the "Transformers" blockbuster has shown that pic length is an eminently surmountable obstacle.

Looking ahead, two wide openers are set for Friday: Fox's Chris Columbus-helmed high school comedy "I Love You, Beth Cooper" and Sacha Baron Cohen's latest R-rated comedy, "Bruno," from Universal. Comedies tend to work well in the summer, and the pics clearly target distinct audiences.

But with no pure action movie in sight until Paramount debuts "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" on Aug. 7, there should be particularly smooth sailing for "Transformers" during the next few sessions. Still, it will be interesting to see how the robots manage to deal with the big splash sure to be felt when Warners opens "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" on July 15.
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