THE FALLEN RISES

Paramount's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen came within inches -- well, $2.6 million -- of overtaking last year's The Dark Knight as the film with the best 5-day opening of all time. According to studio estimates, it grossed $201.2 million versus $203.8 for Warner Bros.' Knight. The figure included estimated results for Sunday, therefore final actual ticket sales, to be released on Monday, could push the total past Knight's record mark. Then again, the Los Angeles Times reported that some competing studios estimated that the total will come in closer to $197-199 million. The newspaper said that Paramount spent about $200 million to produce the film and $150-175 million on worldwide marketing and distribution. IMAX, which has been expanding its giant-screen venues (some critics contend that the size of the newer screens is being misrepresented), contributed $14.4 million to the gross. Although IMAX theaters accounted for less than 4 percent of those screening the movie, they nevertheless produced 7.2 percent of the estimated gross. The Transformers sequel performed nearly as impressively overseas, raking in $162 million in 58 countries, including $21.9 million in China, setting a record for an English-language film in that country. Warner Bros./New Line attempted to counter-program Knight with the female-oriented My Sister's Keeper, but showed little success in doing so. The film opened with an estimated $12 million to place fourth. It had been expected to earn $15-20 million.

The top ten films for the regular three-day weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo:

1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, $112 million; 2. The Proposal, $18.5 million; 3. The Hangover, $17.2 million; 4. Up, $13 million; 5. My Sister's Keeper, $12 million; 6. Year One, $5.8 million; 7. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, $5.4 million; 8. Star Trek, $3.6 million; 9. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, $3.5 million; 10. Away We Go, $1.7 million.

AND IN LIMITED RELEASE ...

Woody Allen's Whatever Works continued to perform solidly in its second week in 35 theaters, earning $386,286 -- or $11,036 per theater -- to bring its two-week total to $765,433. Opening on 76 screens, the Michelle Pfeiffer costume drama Chéri grossed $408,000 -- or $5,368 per theater. The Stephen Frears movie had received mostly positive reviews on Friday. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 3 1/2 stars and credited much of the film's success to the casting of Michelle Pfeiffer as a middle-aged beauty and Rupert Friend as her younger lover. "The movie is a visual feast," commented Lou Lumenick in the New York Post, "with Oscar-caliber sets and costumes that for many will justify the trip to the [theater]." Claudia Puig in USA Today, however, described the movie as being like Friend's title character -- "an entertaining bauble without much on its mind." And Elizabeth Weitzman in the New York Daily News turned Puig's observation on its head. "The movie's shallow amusements do make for an ideal guilty pleasure," she wrote.

NBC UNIVERSAL CFO WANTS TO KNOW WHY STUDIO LACKS HITS

With only a single hit film -- The Fast and the Furious -- making goodat the box office this year, Universal Studios executives are preparing to explain their losing streak to NBC Universal CFO Lynn Calpeter, the New York Post reported today (Monday). The newspaper, citing four unnamed sources inside the company, said that NBC Universal President/CEO Jeff Zucker had dispatched Calpeter to Hollywood to "get more educated on the studio." One source said that Universal Studios Chairman Ron Meyer is irritated by Calpeter's visit. "It's always annoying for someone in Hollywood when corporate comes around because they generally don't get the nuances of the business," the source told the Post. Some industry observes have suggested that the studio's fortunes could change with the release of Public Enemies on Wednesday, Sasha Baron Cohen's Brüno on July 10 and Judd Apatow's Funny People on July 31.

Cinemark Movie Club