There's no hiding the success of the "robots in disguise" franchise: "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" enjoyed the highest-grossing Fourth of July film debut ever over the weekend. Summer sequel mania was in full swing over the Independence Day holiday as the latest "Transformers" movie took in an estimated $97.5 million. "Transformers" beat the 2011 opening-weekend record previously set by "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," which just crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide.
Director Michael Bay's third installment in the "Transformers" series took in more than $180 million during its six-day opening, which started with Tuesday night previews. While it beat the Independence Day record held by "Spider-Man 2" thanks to inflation and 3-D screenings, it fell short of the superhero sequel in terms of overall attendance and far behind the last "Transformers" opening as well. Only 38 percent of major critics found the film favorable, according to Rotten Tomatoes.
Last weekend's big sequel, "Cars 2," suffered from the largest second-week drop in Pixar's history. The talking-car-centered animated kid flick fell 60 percent to #2 with an estimated $26.2 million, with an 11-day total of $123 million. Cameron Diaz's "Bad Teacher" was #3 on the box-office chart with $14.5 million for an 11-day total of $59.9 million.
Critics have not been kind to "Larry Crowne," which opened at #4 with just $13.1 million. " 'Larry Crowne' has Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts and a good premise and a colorful supporting cast," wrote Roger Ebert. "But what it doesn't have is a reason for existing."
The weekend's other new romantic comedy, Selena Gomez's "Monte Carlo," failed to even crack the top five with its $7.4 million debut.
"Super 8" was #5 with $7.8 million. JJ Abrams' homage to co-producer Steven Spielberg's thrill-filled coming-of-age stories has earned more than $108 million in four weeks of release.