THURSDAY AM: Paramount’s official Transformers number for Wednesday is $29.1 mil from 4,011 North American theaters — which means the DreamWorks battle of the bots recorded the best gross ever for a Fourth Of July. It also recorded the biggest Wednesday non-sequel of all time, beating The Passion Of The Christ ($26.5M on Wednesday February 25, 2004). So now its cume is $65.7 for the first 2 1/2 days of release since Monday night. Until now, Spider-Man 2 held the record for the holiday ($21.9 mil on July 4, 2004, or down 35% from the previous day). Transformers‘ receipts actually went up 4.3% from Tuesday to Wednesday, something that never happens on July 4th when outdoor activities usually rule. But rainy weather in the East helped fill seats for the Michael Bay-directed, Steven Spielberg-supervised pic.

ratshoppers4.jpgMeanwhile, Disney says Ratatouille’s Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday opening week grosses proved to be the biggest ever for a Pixar film: Monday $7.5M beating Finding Nemo which was $6.9M, Tuesday $7.8M beating Finding Nemo which was $7.1M, and Wednesday $10.2M beating Toy Story 2 which was $9.5M. A lot has been made by myself and other reporters about the difficulty of Disney / Pixar merchandising a kitchen rat. But I’m told the Soda Fountain Studio Store next door to Hollywood’s El Capitan Theater has been non stop packed with Ratatouille shoppers. (See photos). I’m told that the store cannot keep in stock plush toy rats and radio controlled rats. Also big sellers are chef hats and kids cookbooks. Other Ratatouille items for sale at either Disney Stores, mass retailers and specialty retailers include: Ratatouille Chardonnay (Costco), Ratatouille cheese (Costco), Ratatouille back-to-school items, Ratatouille kids cookware toys, Ratatouille kids home decor and cooking classes (Sur La Table).

WEDNESDAY PM: I hear unofficially DreamWorks’ Transformers made at least $29 million for July 4th from 4,011 North American theaters. That’s a lot of moolah for a movie on this U.S. holiday when everybody is out and about during the day and watching fireworks at night. Paramount won’t have the official number until Thursday morning, so stay tuned. But add $29 mil to the $36 mil in 36 hours the pic already took in, and that’s a total $65 mil for this Battle Of The Bots in its first 2 1/2 days of release. And the studio still has another four full days to go through Sunday. It’s clear that Transformers will have no trouble fulfilling Paramount’s lowered expectations of $100 mil, and likely even box office gurus’ projections of $125 mil for the 6 1/2 days.

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