Comedy and robots — that’s what sold this weekend at the American box office. A major action sequel topped the chart, with four comedies following close behind. Transformers: Dark of the Moon easily held on to first place, firing up an optimal $47 million. That number represents a 52 percent decline from last weekend, and gives Dark of the Moon a 12-day total of $261 million. The original Transformers had earned $212.3 million at the same point, while Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen had pulled in a stronger $293.4 million.
Word-of-mouth does appear to be helping Transformers: Dark of the Moon, though. One week ago, the threequel lagged behind its predecessor by $37.5 million. Today, it trails Revenge of the Fallen by a smaller $32.4 million, which bucks the trend of sequels dropping faster at the box office and signals positive audience response. It appears that the “A” grade from CinemaScore is helping the robot/alien extravaganza. At this point, Transformers: Dark of the Moon looks like it’s headed for a finish in the $370 million range, but we’ll have to see how the 3D blockbuster holds up against a little wizard named Harry Potter next weekend. Internationally, Transformers pulled in another $93 million this weekend, boosting its worldwide total to a gargantuan $645 million. We may have a new member of the $1 billion club soon.
Horrible Bosses finished the weekend in second place with a robust $28.1 million debut, continuing this summer’s streak of successful R-rated comedies. The Warner Brothers film had a healthy $9,247 per-theater average, and it opened within the range of Bridesmaids and Bad Teacher, which started with $26.3 million and $31.6 million, respectively. Bosses marks the best ever debut for stars Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, and it bodes well for Jason Bateman, whose next comedy, The Change Up, debuts on August 5. Bosses also becomes Jennifer Aniston’s second successful comedy venture this year following February’s Adam Sandler collaboration, Just Go With It, which earned $103 million.
Horrible Bosses had broad appeal with both men (51 percent of the audience) and women, and audiences gave the comedy a good CinemaScore grade of “B+”, which should lead to solid legs at the box office. (Heck, Bad Teacher earned a “C+”, and it has been holding up very well — Americans are just craving comedy!) Amusingly, 35 percent of people listed “subject matter” as their reason for seeing the edgy comedy — I guess a lot of Americans really do hate their bosses!
Zookeeper opened in third place with $21 million, joining a long list (Alvin and the Chipmunks, Yogi Bear, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Cats and Dogs, Dr. Dolittle, Hop, G-Force, Garfield) of talking-animal features that earned weak reviews overall but still performed reasonably well at the box office. What can I say? Audiences love cute critters and Kevin James — 41 percent of moviegoers listed “Actor in a leading role” as their reason for seeing Zookeeper, and the comedy, which played primarily to kids under the age of 18 (46 percent) and adults over the age of 35 (39 percent), earned a “B+” from CinemaScore.
For Kevin James, Zookeeper marks a decline from the $31.8 million bow of 2009′s Paul Blart: Mall Cop, the last movie for which James was the sole lead, but there’s no need for Sony to worry just yet. Family films tend to have great legs at the box office, and if the $80 million film can match the endurance of Paul Blart: Mall Cop (which finished with $146.3 million), it should have no trouble getting into the black.
After a huge 60 percent drop last weekend, Cars 2 slowed down a bit, falling into fourth place with a 42 percent drop to $15.2 million. The Pixar film has now earned $148.8 million, less than the $156.6 million that the original Cars had earned at the same point. Bad Teacher came in fifth place and enjoyed the smallest drop in the top ten, falling only 38% to $9 million and pushing the Cameron Diaz comedy to an impressive $78.8 million total.
Two other box office tidbits: The Hangover Part II added another $1.2 million to its cume and crossed the $250 million mark domestically, while in limited release, hip-hop documentary Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest earned a terrific $120,000 out of just four theaters.
1. Transformers: Dark of the Moon — $47.0 mil
2. Horrible Bosses — $28.1 mil
3. Zookeeper — $21.0 mil
4. Cars 2 — $15.2 mil
5. Bad Teacher — $9.0 mil
6. Larry Crowne — $6.3 mil
Follow Grady on Twitter: @BoxOfficeJunkie