LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The new "Transformers" sequel trampled all over the worldwide box office at the weekend, quickly racking up sales of $387 million with Britain and China leading the international charge.
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" already ranks as the third-biggest movie of the year in North America, after earning $201.2 million since it blasted into theaters on Wednesday, distributor Paramount Pictures said on Sunday.
The haul handily beat industry expectations, and falls just short of the five-day opening record of $203.8 million set last year by "The Dark Knight," the second-biggest film of all time in North America before adjusting for inflation.
The overseas contribution stands at $186.1 million. The film opened in 58 markets on Wednesday after getting an early start last weekend in Britain and Japan. The British total stands at $27 million. Paramount did not have the Japan total.
The biggest of the new markets was China, which chipped in $21.9 million, a record for an English-language film, the Viacom Inc-owned studio said. Other notable openings included South Korea ($14.9 million), Australia ($13 million) and Russia ($11.8 million). In those markets, the film surpassed its 2007 predecessor in local currency terms, Paramount said.
The first "Transformers" earned $708 million worldwide in 2007, the fifth-biggest film of the year. It ranked at No. 3 in North America with sales of $319 million. The new film should pass that tally next week, with business boosted by the July 4 Independence Day holiday in the United States.
Both films were directed by Michael Bay, and feature young stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. The storylines were similar: robots rampage across the landscape, and things explode. The sequel reportedly cost about $200 million to make.
'THREE STRONG WEEKS'
Earlier in the week, Paramount had conservatively forecast a five-day North American haul in the $130 million to $150 million range. But industry pundits said a tally of at least $175 million was more likely. The biggest movies of the year so far are "Up" with $250 million and "Star Trek" with $246 million.
"We should have three really strong weeks before 'Harry Potter (and the Half-Blood Prince)' comes in" on July 15, said Don Harris, executive vice-president of distribution at Paramount.
Harris said women accounted for 46 percent of moviegoers, up from 40 percent for the first movie, an indication of the franchise's expanding appeal.
Exit surveys indicated that 91 percent of moviegoers considered the film as good as or better than the first one, Harris said. Critics, on the other hand, were mildly favorable toward the first film, but mostly appalled by the sequel, according to Rotten Tomatoes (http://www.rottentomatoes.com), a website that analyzes reviews.
The movie's $112 million tally for the traditional three-day period beginning Friday easily eclipsed the combined tallies of the rest of the movies in the top 10. Last weekend's champion, "The Proposal," slipped to No. 2 with $18.5 million. Walt Disney Co's Sandra Bullock romance has earned $69 million after 10 days.
The bachelor party comedy "The Hangover" was No. 3 with $17.2 million in its fourth weekend. It has earned $183 million to date. The film was released by Warner Bros. Pictures, a unit of Time Warner Inc.
Disney's Pixar-produced cartoon "Up" was No. 4 with $13 million. With $250 million banked so far, it needs only to surpass "The Incredibles" ($261 million) to become the second-biggest Pixar production behind "Finding Nemo" ($340 million).
New in theaters at No. 5 was Warner Bros.' weepie "My Sister's Keeper," which earned just $12 million. Cameron Diaz stars as a mother who gives birth to a genetically engineered second daughter to help save the life of her leukemia-stricken elder daughter.
(Editing by Vicki Allen)