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Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 06-27-11


 
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” – In Theaters June 29th

“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” – In Theaters June 29th

Tom Hanks on the set of “Larry Crowne”

Tom Hanks on the set of “Larry Crowne”

Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, and Woody Allen in “Midnight in Paris”

Rachel McAdams, Luke Wilson, and Woody Allen in “Midnight in Paris”

MC-023 Even an elevator ride has intriguing and unexpected consequences for the vacationing Emma (Kate Cassidy, left), Meg (Leighton Meester) and Grace (Selena Gomez). Photo: Larry Horricks TM and ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

MC-023 Even an elevator ride has intriguing and unexpected consequences for the vacationing Emma (Kate Cassidy, left), Meg (Leighton Meester) and Grace (Selena Gomez). Photo: Larry Horricks TM and ©2011 Twentieth Century Fox and Regency Enterprises. All rights reserved. Not for sale or duplication.

“Transformers” tracking: When a picture’s tracking through the roof like “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” it’s time to start chilling the champagne.

It’s not only great news for Paramount and Hasbro, but it’s also the shot in the arm that theatre owners really need after Warner Bros.’ under-performing “Green Lantern.” It looks like “Transformers 3” should ignite the kind of boxoffice fireworks Hollywood loves to see over July Fourth Weekend.

Sure, it’s nice that Disney and Pixar’s “Cars 2” got off to a speedy $68 million or so. That’s about $8 million more than anybody was predicting given its modest first choice tracking scores, but it’s not the kind of uber-blockbuster business that Hollywood hopes for. That, however, is how “Transformers 3” is shaping up.

With a few days to go until its June 29 launch, its first choice tracking is about seven points less than where Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” was when it sailed into multiplexes with $90.2 million in May. It’s about four points below where Universal’s “Fast Five” was when it sped into theatres in April with $86.2 million. And looking back to last July Fourth weekend, it’s only about two points down from where Summit Entertainment’s “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” was when it took an $83.6 million boxoffice bite for four days (Monday-Friday).

“Transformers 3’s” tracking could still come up a bit more by the time it opens Thursday, but no matter what happens it’s going to dominate next weekend’s boxoffice.

It’s certainly not happy news for “Green Lantern” to be facing competition from an established comic book driven franchise that’s going to play to the same fickle fanboys “Green” hoped to attract, but didn’t. “Green’s” second weekend ticket sales plunged about 65 percent. Usually this kind of mega-drop follows a hot opening, but “Green’s” $53.2 million kick-off was far from sizzling.

“Transformers 3” will hope to match “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” which opened June 24, 2009 to $109 million and wound up grossing $402.1 million domestically.

As you’d expect, “Transformers 3’s” tracking best with under-25 males and nearly as well with over-25 males. But it’s only doing about half as well with females under or over-25.

The picture that over-25 females favor is Universal’s romantic dramedy “Larry Crowne,” starring Tom Hanks, who also directed, and Julia Roberts. Overall, it’s tracking poorly in the low single digits. It does, however, just crack double digits as a first choice for over-25 females. The only hopeful note here is that adult females sometimes drag their husbands or boyfriends to take them to films they really want to see. “Larry” could benefit from that.

Unfortunately, “Larry’s” got unexpected competition for the cougar crowd from Sony Pictures Classic’s Woody Allen romantic dramedy “Midnight in Paris.” When Universal slotted “Larry” to open July 1 no one figured it would face any big competition for adult female moviegoers’ time and money.

“Midnight” wasn’t on anybody’s radar as an adult appeal film that would expand from a handful of platform release cities to over a thousand theatres and be driven by critical acclaim and great word of mouth. Go figure — “Midnight’s” already the summer’s must-see adult movie, which is what “Larry” was hoping to be.

I’m a longtime Woody Allen fan, but as much as I loved this one — his best work since 2005’s “Match Point” — I didn’t think it would turn into a break-out hit. Well, it’s grossed over $28 million in six weeks and looks like it can play on through the summer. In fact, “Midnight’s” on track to become Woody’s biggest boxoffice success. It will do so if it can overtake “Hannah and Her Sisters,” which grossed $40.1 million in 1986 after a 19 week run.

“Larry” is a safe bet to out-gross “Midnight.” It’s opening in over 2,700 theatres. “Midnight’s” only playing in about 950 and is starting to lose theatres. Nonetheless, “Midnight” took in about $4.5 million last weekend and was only off about 8 percent. If it falls 12 percent next weekend, it could gross around $4 million, mostly from adult ticket sales that could otherwise have gone to “Larry.”

Next weekend’s other wide opening, Fox’s romantic comedy “Monte Carlo,” is tracking terribly. At this point, it’s got goose-eggs as a first choice for younger and older males and it’s only in the low single digits as a first choice for younger and older females.

Bottom line: Fanboys should drive “Transformers 3” at the July Fourth boxoffice in line with how fan girls celebrated with “Twilight Saga: Eclipse” a year ago.