Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon earned a solid $13.5 million at midnight shows and “sneak previews” on Tuesday. The midnight grosses were estimated at $8 million, while sneak previews at 2,700 3-D theaters earlier Tuesday night generated an additional $5.5 million. The total for the third Transformers movie was well behind that of the franchise’s second movie, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which earned $16 million at its midnight opening back in 2009, but it was more than was produced by the first Transformers film, which brought in $8.8 million at Tuesday evening and midnight shows back in 2007.
The second Transformers movie, which even director Michael Bay (who blames the writer’s strike for the film’s lameness) admits “was a steaming pile of crap,” earned $200 million in its first five days of release.  Partially because of the hangover created by the second film, but mostly because of the malaise that has struck the box office in 2011, studio executives aren’t expecting Dark of the Moon to open as well as its predecessor.  According to The Hollywood Reporter, Paramount is predicting that the five-day total for Transformers: Dark of the Moon will be between $155 million and $165 million.  
While the reviews for the new Transformers movie have not been kind (its Rotten Tomatoes rating is only 38% positive), most critics do agree that Bay has utilized the 3-D format well, that the movie delivers the action movie goods as can be seen in an hour-long action spectacle sequence dubbed the “Battle of Chicago,” and that the film’s continuity is far better than that of its predecessor.  As Variety’s critic put it, “The result may still be a big, bloated spectacle, but it’s a big bloated spectacle you can just about follow.”