Belfast Telegraph

Transformers tops holiday list

Michael Bay sequel Transformers: Age Of Extinction and the Melissa McCarthy comedy Tammy have led the weakest summer holiday weekend in at least a decade at the US box office.

North American cinema sales were down a whopping 44 per cent over the July Fourth weekend last year, when Despicable Me 2 and The Lone Ranger opened.

This weekend sputtered not because of an oversized bomb like The Lone Ranger, but because of numerous factors, including that Hollywood simply didn't aim for big fireworks this year. The holdover Transformers led all films with an estimated 36.4 million dollars (£21.2 million), while Tammy had a below expectations Friday-to-Sunday haul of 21.2 million dollars (£12.3 million).

"This ranks as one of the lowest Fourth of Julys ever," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for box-office tracker Rentrak. "We always think of Fourth of July being a big weekend. This year, we just have to lick our wounds and look forward to Planet Of The Apes and some other films to get us back on track."

Paramount's Transformers, the fourth in the series, opened the weekend prior to the year's biggest debut with 100 million dollars (£58.3 million). The movie, with a rebooted cast led by Mark Wahlberg, dropped considerably (63 per cent) in its second week of release despite relatively little competition.

Overseas, Age Of Extinction is performing exceptionally well. It added 95.8 million dollars (£55.8 million) from 37 territories for a two-week worldwide gross of 575.6 million (£335.5 million). It's set to soon become the highest grossing film ever in China, with already more than 200 million dollars (£116.6 million) in box office sales. Transformers 4 was partially shot in China, features local star Li Bingbing and premiered at the Shanghai Film Festival.

New Line's R-rated, Midwest road trip romp Tammy boasts one of the most bankable stars in movies - McCarthy - but is a smaller, homespun movie made for just 20 million dollars and directed by McCarthy's husband, Ben Falcone. Despite being savaged by critics, the Warner Bros release made 32.9 million dollars (£19.1 million) in five days since opening on July 2.

"Why the weekend was so weak in terms of competition is hard to tell," said Dan Fellman, head of domestic distribution for Warner Bros, who said he was very pleased with the performance of Tammy. ''It's just the way things fell."

The other new wide release was the horror flick Deliver Us From Evil, which had no blockbuster ambitions. The Sony Screen Gems release, starring Eric Bana, opened in third with 9.5 million dollars (£5.5 million). Also debuting was Relativity Media's animated release Earth To Echo, which took in 8.3 million dollars (£4.8 million).

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