Transformers 2: Critics Are Irrelevant When Whole World Is Watching One Picture

June 29, 2009—The five-day domestic groos of Paramount's “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is the second highest of all time.  But the movie also broke records overseas, leading to a massive $387.3 million worldwide through Sunday.  Savvy marketing, word-of-mouth, and male-dominated demographics were crucial factors, which made critics’ negative opinions of the picture all but irrelevant.

The five-day opening gross of $201.2 million from 4,234 theaters domestically eclipsed the $152.4 million earned by “Spider-Man 2,” which previously held the five-day record for a Wednesday launch.  “Transformers 2” nearly matched the best five-day gross of all time: $203.8 million for Chris Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.”

Overseas, the action blockbuster opened to an estimated $162 million, the fourth best international opening of all time, after “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End” ($216.3 million), “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” ($193 million) and “Spider-Man 3” ($164.9 million). The sequel's foreign cumulative figure was $186.1 million, including the $24.1 million earned the previous weekend in the U.K. and Japan.

Just over the three-day weekend, “Transformers 2” grossed $112 million domestically. That, plus the $163 million international opening, makes for a worldwide weekend bow of $274 million, the third best after “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World End” ($356.1 million) and “Spider-Man 3” ($315.9 million).

The international triumph was led by China at $21.9 million, the biggest opening of all time for an English-language movie. While it played strongest in Asia, “Revenge of the Fallen” performed ahead of the first film in almost every market, proving that the franchise has taken hold, Paramount prexy of international distribution Andrew Cripps said.

“Transformers,” which Paramount and DreamWorks debuted over the Fourth of July holiday in 2007, opened to $70.5 million domestically on its way to a total of $319.2 million in North America and $700 million worldwide.

Imax also participated in the “Transformers 2” bounty. The picture played on 169 Imax screens domestically. Five-day opening gross at Imax sites was a record $14.4 million.

The “Transformers” franchise was among the projects that reverted to Paramount after its split with DreamWorks, although Spielberg remained an executive producer on the sequel and DreamWorks' logo appears at the opening of the pic and in ads.

Adam Goodman, who arrived at Par six months ago from DreamWorks, helped guide both “Transformer” pictures. Just days before the “Transformers” sequel opened, Paramount chair-CEO Brad Grey announced that Goodman was being upped to Paramount Film Group prexy as production toppers John Lesher and Brad Weston were exiting the studio. 

Grey also lauded Bay's ability to connect with audiences. He said the entire Par family is “proud to be behind him, and we look forward to our collaboration with him in the future.”

“Transformers 3” is tentatively scheduled to open July 1, 2011.

“Revenge of the Fallen” is expected to remain a sizable force in the coming days, looming over such new fare as Fox's 3-D toon “Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” which opens Wednesday.

Also opening Wednesday is Universal's Michael Mann–Johnny Depp gangster epic “Public Enemies.”