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Just how bad is this summer's Hollywood box-office slump?

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In addition to its truly patriotic purpose, Independence Day weekend is typically a celebration of Hollywood bombast and spectacle, with huge CG blockbusters playing non-stop in air-conditioned multiplexes around the country. It’s often the halfway point in the year where studio executives can look at the grosses and their bottom lines, exhale, uncork a nice bottle, and think, “We’re going to be alright this year.”

Not this year.

In fact, the financial data for July 4-6 was downright terrifying. Not only were grosses down 45 percent from last year’s holiday, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, but it was Hollywood’s worst July 4 weekend since 1999. (And that’s not taking into account inflation. In fact, this was the worst July-holiday weekend for ticket sales since the summer of Dragnet in 1987.) The Melissa McCarthy comedy Tammy scored $32.9 million in its first five days—not shabby for a movie that cost only $20 million to make, but hardly a summer savior and nothing close to her last two hits, Identity Thief and The Heat. READ FULL STORY

Box office report: 'Transformers 4' holds No. 1 spot, no fireworks for 'Tammy'

Transformers: Age of Extinction showed its summer might once more by holding onto the No. 1 spot in its second weekend of release, grossing an estimated $36.4 million from 4,233 locations and effectively shutting out the slate of new releases. Michael Bay’s explosive epic also hit $400 million internationally after just 12 days in release.

But, overall, it was a quiet holiday weekend at the box office, and the gap between 2013 and 2014 summer earnings only continues to grow. None of the week’s new releases were ever going to match last year’s Despicable Me 2 opening.

Among the weekend openers was Warner Bros.’ R-rated comedy Tammy (C+ Cinema Score), which managed to take in just $21.2 million in its first weekend in release and $32.9 million across the five-day, cooling star Melissa McCarthy’s recent box office hot streak. The second place opening isn’t a disaster by any means—the pic only cost $20 million to produce—but it also didn’t meet the studio’s modest expectations ($37 million across five days). On top of that, the lousy Cinema Score means that this one will drop hard and fast.

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Box office update: 'Transformers 4' crushes 'Tammy,' 'Earth to Echo'

Tammy is no match for the Transformers. The Melissa McCarthy comedy had a slight shot at snagging the top spot over the holiday, but the Autobots managed to stave off extinction for one more week — at least till the Apes take over next weekend.

Michael Bay’s fourth installment in the toy-based franchise pulled in an estimated $10.6 million Friday, while the R-rated Tammy (C+ Cinema Score) took in $6.44 million from 3,400 theaters. In other words, there were no box office fireworks this weekend.

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Box office preview: 'Tammy' takes on the Transformers

Melissa McCarthy’s over-the-top comedy Tammy (C+ Cinema Score) bursts into theaters this long Fourth of July weekend to challenge Michael Bay’s over-the-top Transformers: Age of Extinction for the No. 1 spot. Will Americans choose an original comedy or the latest summer blockbuster to escape the heat and barbeques? It could be close.

Also opening wide is the E.T.-like Earth to Echo (A- Cinema Score) and the horror pic Deliver Us From Evil (B- Cinema Score). It’s the rare summer weekend without any sequels or franchises, and it won’t hold a candle to the same weekend last year which saw Despicable Me 2 take in $143 million across the Wednesday to Sunday time frame.

Here’s how things might play out.

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Box office report: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' destroys competition with $100 million

Optimus Prime is back in full force.

Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction (A- Cinema Score) earned an estimated $100 million across the weekend, making it the top debut of the year. It’s also a career high for star Mark Wahlberg, who leads a new cast in telling the story of what happened five years after Chicago was nearly destroyed in the last film.

Paramount’s $200 million film may not have charmed the critics, but audiences didn’t seem to take that, or the daunting run time, into account this weekend. Moviegoers were predominately male, accounting for 64 percent of audiences. Also of note: IMAX screens made up $10.7 million of the weekend grosses.

But, the domestic business isn’t the only good news. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: The Transformers defy extinction with a $41.6 million Friday

The Transformers might be fighting for their existence in Michael Bay’s fourth installment in the toy-to-movie series, but the film itself is not just surviving — it’s on track to become the highest opener of the year. Sorry, Cap.

Featuring a brand new cast, including Mark Wahlberg, T.J. Miller, Nicola Peltz, Kelsey Grammer, and Stanley Tucci, Transformers: Age of Extinction brought in an estimated $41.6 million from 4,233 locations, Friday. That includes Thursday night’s $8.75 million take from approximately 2,990 locations as well, which started showing Paramount’s nearly 3 hour spectacle at 9 p.m. After some Friday morning hand-wringing, it looks like the blockbuster is still on track for a $100 million + opening — which would be a career high for Wahlberg (whose highest opening to date is the 2001 Planet of the Apes). It also picked up $80 million from international showings, bringing its worldwide total to a staggering $121.6 million. READ FULL STORY

Box office preview: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' set for a mighty debut

Michael Bay is back with the fourth installment of his toy-based, explosion-happy franchise. Boasting an all-new cast and some renewed fan excitement, Transformers: Age of Extinction could very well open north of $100 million this weekend—and become the highest opener of the year, punching Captain America: The Winter Soldier to the No. 2 spot.

The nearly $200 million film opens in 4,200 locations domestically, including late Thursday night showings. It also opens in 37 markets internationally, including Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Russia and Australia. No matter how you shake it, the debut will be a monster one, even if Paramount is hedging its bets by putting the pic in the high $90 million range. It’s the only movie opening wide this weekend, Mark Wahlberg is a solid box-office draw, and ticketing pre-sales are off the charts — representing 96 percent of Fandango’s weekend ticket sales and 58 percent of tickets sold on MovieTickets.com in the past 24 hours.

Here’s how things might play out:

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Box office report: 'Think Like a Man Too' the cock of the walk with $30 million opening

Holding off a nice run from 22 Jump Street, the romantic comedy Think Like a Man Too took the top spot this weekend with a $30 million opening. That’s great news for Kevin Hart, the gleeful star and narrator of the Steve Harvey-inspired ensemble piece, though early estimates predicted the sequel performing closer to the tune of $35 million. The sequel didn’t match the original’s 2012 opening weekend kitty of $33.6 million, but the laffer also cost a modest $24 million to make. Sony predicts a strong weekday play going forward, buoyed by Man‘s strong word-of-mouth and A- CinemaScore rating.

There’s a couple of great jokes in Think Like a Man Too where the lone square fella of the core Vegas bachelor party suggests the boys eschew a night of gambling and strip clubs and catch a performance of Jersey Boys instead. “It won like eight Tonys!” he says when the men recoil. Whether or not it was a pointed reference to Think Like a Man Too‘s fellow new release or not is unknown, but the Clint Eastwood adaptation of Jersey Boys hit a bit of a flat note in fourth place with $13.5 million. Going forward Broadway fans and older audiences may seek it out as a break from the jarring noise of superheroes and metal machines clashing angrily into each other. (Though I’m not sure Kevin Hart and his Vegas buddies would make that bet.) But with a budget of $40 million, Jersey Boys, which earned an impressive A- CinemaScore vote, still has some major singing to do for its supper. READ FULL STORY

Box Office Update: 'Think Like A Man Too' on audience's brains with a $12.2 million Friday

The box office continues to bow down to Kevin Hart. The comedian, already the cock of the walk with his Ride Along victory just five months ago, has another hit on his hands with Think Like a Man Too. The sequel to Steve Harvey’s best-selling relationship opus cruised to the #1 spot on Friday with a $12.2 million haul. (Take that, 23% score on Rotten Tomatoes!) The Tim Story-directed laffer, which also stars Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, and Meagan Good, follows the gang to Las Vegas for a wedding weekend. Think Like A Man Too played in 2,225 theaters and is on track to bring in opening weekend numbers comparable to the original’s $33.6 million bow in 2012. READ FULL STORY

Box office update: '22 Jump Street' in early lead with a huge $25 million Friday

Two very strong sequels — 22 Jump Street and How to Train Your Dragon 2 — are battling for a top spot at the weekend box office, but early indications put the bumbling cop comedy in the lead. Not surprisingly, the R-rated sequel starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum won the derby Friday night with estimates putting the film at $25 million for the day. Sony Pictures, who co-financed the film with MGM, is now predicting 22 Jump Street will gross $60 million for the weekend, putting it above other R-rated summer comedies like Ted ($54.4 million) and Sex in the City ($57 million.)

“This one feels really good,” says Sony’s distribution prez Rory Bruer of Jump Street when reached Saturday morning. “It’s our highest-tested R-rated comedy ever at our research screenings. Focus groups loved it — thought it was hilarious and funnier than the first. We’re going to end up being the second-highest R-rated comedy ever.”

Jump‘s numbers solidly beat out Dreamworks’ animated family film How to Train Your Dragon 2, which nabbed an estimated $18.5 million for the second slot Friday. But things could all turn around today, when families start mobilizing their troops to the dragon flick featuring voice talent from Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, and Gerard Butler.

Third place on Friday went to the three-hankie weeper The Fault in Our Stars, which continues its impressive run. The $12 million film based on the popular John Green novel nabbed an additional $6.4 million its second Friday in release, putting its total at $72.3 million.

Disney’s Maleficient is likely to take a tumble with so many young ones opting for Toothless the dragon in its opening weekend. But the reimagined Disney fairy tale starring Angelina Jolie earned an estimated $5.84 Friday, putting its gross at a solid $144.5 million.

Tom Cruise’s starring vehicle The Edge of Tomorrow is likely to suffer the worst in its second weekend. The film took in only $4.56 million on Friday, for a domestic total that now stands at $45 million.

Here’s the top 5:

1. 22 Jump Street — $25 million

2. How to Train Your Dragon 2 — $18.5 million

3. The Fault in Our Stars — $6.4 million

4. Maleficient — $5.8 million

5. The Edge of Tomorrow — $4.56 million

Check back Sunday morning for a more comprehensive report.

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