- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Optimus Prime and his fellow Transformers are not quite over the moon with their latest box-office count.

According to distributor Paramount Pictures, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” took in $37.3 million domestically in its first full day Wednesday. That’s a 40 percent drop from its predecessor, “Revenge of the Fallen,” which pulled in $62 million two years ago on opening day, which also was a Wednesday.

Adding in $5.5 million from debut screenings Tuesday night, “Dark of the Moon” raised its domestic haul to $42.8 million. The movie also has taken in $36.6 million in 85 overseas countries where it has opened.

While the domestic total is well below the launch of “Revenge of the Fallen,” the new “Transformers” sequel still is off to a healthy start. “Dark of the Moon” had the best single day for a movie this year, topping the previous high of $34.9 million on opening day for “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

The disparity between “Revenge of the Fallen” and the latest “Transformers” installment is even deeper considering 60 percent of revenues for “Dark of the Moon” came from pricier 3-D tickets. That means the audience was even smaller than for the 2-D “Revenge of the Fallen.”

Admission prices also have risen since 2009, further widening the ticket gap between the two movies.

Based on an average movie price this year of $8.01 calculated by the National Association of Theatre Owners, “Dark of the Moon” sold about 4.7 million tickets in its first day. “Revenge of the Fallen” sold about 8.3 million on opening day, based on 2009’s average ticket price of $7.50.

“Dark of the Moon” had the sixth-biggest opening day domestically among movies debuting on a Wednesday. Last year’s “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” had the best Wednesday debut at $68.5 million, followed by “Revenge of the Fallen.”

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