Alien robots have transformed into box-office superstars with US$200 million in domestic ticket sales in just five days.
"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" took in US$112 million in the sequel's first weekend and US$201.2 million since opening Wednesday, according to Sunday estimates from Paramount, which is distributing the DreamWorks movie.
It was well on the way to becoming the year's top-grossing movie.
That was a few million U.S. dollars higher than other studios were expecting for the movie, and the figures could change a bit when final numbers are released yesterday.
Still, it was a colossal start for the "Transformers" sequel, whose opening five days amounted to nearly two-thirds of the US$319 million domestic total the franchise's first movie did over its entire run in 2007.
Now playing in almost every other country except India, the movie added US$185.8 million overseas, for a worldwide total of US$387 million. That's well over half the US$708 million global total for the first "Transformers."
That first movie began with a US$70.5 million weekend. Based on how well the sequel has done, "Revenge of the Fallen" could join the handful of movies that have topped the US$400 million mark domestically.
"I'd say given the momentum it has, it's got a real shot," said Rob Moore, vice chairman at Paramount.
For the first five days, the "Transformers" sequel was second only to last summer's "The Dark Knight" with US$203.8 million.
This was the biggest opening weekend of this year, surpassing the US$85.1 million debut of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" in early May.
The sequel began with US$60.6 million on its opening day Wednesday. That also was second only to "The Dark Knight," which had the biggest box-office day ever with US$67.2 million on opening day.
With US$14.4 million at 169 IMAX theaters, "Transformers" set a record for a five-day opening in the giant-screen format, nearly doubling the previous best of US$7.3 million set by "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix."
"Transformers" overcame harsh reviews from critics, who called it a visual-effects extravaganza without much story or human heart. Director Michael Bay has a history of bad reviews and big box office with "Armageddon" and "Pearl Harbor."
"Michael Bay knows how to build the perfect summer box-office beast," said Paul Dergarabedian, box-office analyst for Hollywood.com. "He squarely aimed right at the demographic, right at what summer movie-goers want, and he put it on the screen. And audiences can't seem to get enough of it."
The sequel broadened the franchise's fan base. Females accounted for just 40 percent of the audience for the first "Transformers" but 46 percent for the sequel, Moore said.
Much of that was due to the on-screen romance for the characters played by Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, who were relative unknowns when the first movie came out.
With a US$13 million weekend, Disney and Pixar Animation's "Up" became the year's top-grossing film domestically at US$250.2 million. It surpassed Paramount's "Star Trek," which did US$3.6 million over the weekend to hit a US$246.2 million total.
The reign of "Up" at the top of the year's box-office chart will be short-lived, though. The "Transformers" sequel should shoot past it in a matter of days.
The Warner Bros. melodrama "My Sister's Keeper," with Cameron Diaz and Abigail Breslin, had a so-so debut, coming in at No. 5 with US$12 million. Breslin plays a daughter conceived as a donor for her older sister, who has leukemia.
Summit Entertainment's Iraq war drama "The Hurt Locker" had a strong start in limited release, taking in US$144,000 in four theaters for an average of US$36,000 a cinema. That compares to an average of US$26,453 in 4,234 theaters for "Transformers."