First-day Take of $37M for ‘Transformers: Dark of the Moon’

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The visual-effects extravaganza Transformers: Dark of the Moon debuted Wednesday to about $37 million in ticket sales, marking the best debut of the year for any film.

Based on the popular Hasbro toys and classic 1980s animated series, the third film in the Transformers franchise earned about $8 million of its first day showings from midnight screenings.

Directed by Michael Bay, Dark of the Moon features visual effects from Digital Domain, ILM, The Aaron Sims Co. and Ironhead Studio.

While the debut is the year’s best, it fails to set records in any other department. It posted the sixth-best opening for a Wednesday opening, well behind the $68.6 million record set by The Twilight Saga: Eclipse and its closest competitor, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which opened in 2009 with $62 million.

Overseas, Dark of the Moon earned $32.5 million for a one-day worldwide total of just under $70 million.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon will the powerhouse picture through the Independence Day holiday weekend, which extends the movie’s opening weekend to six days.

The holiday weekend also should be good news for Disney-Pixar’s family-friendly Cars 2, with the only other new releases being the Friday release of the romantic comedies Larry Crowne and Monte Carlo.