Sorry, 'Zookeeper,' but moviegoers this weekend preferred talking robots to talking animals. And sorry, too, 'Horrible Bosses,' but no one's as horrible a boss as Megatron.
'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' ruled the box office for a second straight weekend, earning another estimated $47.0 million and defeating both wide-release newcomers. After just 13 days of release, 'Transformers' has surpassed 'The Hangover Part II' to become the top-grossing movie of 2011 so far, with a total take of $261.0 million.
The robot sequel's steep drop of 52 percent from last week was expected; that's typical for these big genre franchise summer spectacles, which tend to fizzle fast after making a big splash on their opening weekends. The decline might have been steeper, but 'Transformers' has earned unexpectedly strong word-of-mouth and generous reviews.
'Horrible Bosses' continued this summer's streak of successful R-rated comedies, premiering in second place with an estimated $28.1 million. That's about what was expected, given the film's A-list cast (including Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey) and its strong reviews (see ours here). It earned an impressive $9,247 per screen, comparing favorably to the $11,503 per-screen average of 'Transformers,' whose tally includes 3D and IMAX surcharges.
Opening in third place, 'Zookeeper' also did well, scarfing up an estimated $21.0 million. That was right in line with predictions for the film, whose talking-animal premise and lead performance by human teddy bear Kevin James made 'Zookeeper' the weekend's top pick for family fare. Poor reviews aside, a lot of kids dragged their parents to see this one, judging by studio polling that found 59 percent of the audience to be over the age of 25.
In its third weekend, 'Cars 2' endured another drastic drop (42 percent) and finished fourth, driving off with an estimated $15.2 million. With a total of $148.8 million to date, it's the lowest-grossing of Pixar's 12 movies, though it's poised to overtake 'A Bug's Life' ($162.8 million) over the next few days. (Of course, that was $162.8 million in pre-3D, 1998 dollars. Going by number of tickets sold, 'Cars 2' will still rank last.)
Coming in fifth was 'Bad Teacher,' whose third week saw earnings estimated at $9.0 million. That's a 38 percent hit from last weekend's business. Still, it's not too shabby considering that it was competing against 'Horrible Bosses' for fans of raunchy comedy. Its three-week total stands at $78.8 million.
Despite the success of the top three movies this weekend, box office for the year is still down 8.3 percent from this time in 2010. (Grosses for 2011 stand at $5.4 billion, about half a billion off from last year.) Receipts for July 2011 are down 11.1 percent from this time a year ago, when such smashes as 'Despicable Me,' 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,' and 'Toy Story 3' were all in theaters.
The full top 10:
1. 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon,' $47.0 million (4,088 screens), $261.0 million total
2. 'Horrible Bosses,' $28.1 million (3,040), new release
3. 'Zookeeper,' $21.0 million (3,482), new release
4. 'Cars 2,' $15.2 million (3,990), $148.8 million
5. 'Bad Teacher,' $9.0 million (2,962), $78.8 million
6. 'Larry Crowne,' $6.3 million (2,976), $26.5 million
7. 'Super 8,' $4.8 million (2,292), $118.1 million
8. 'Monte Carlo,' $3.8 million (2,473), $16.1 million
9. 'Green Lantern,' $3.1 million (2,015), $109.7 million
10. 'Mr. Popper's Penguins,' $2.9 million (1,996), $57.7 million
Follow Gary Susman on Twitter: @garysusman.