Transformers courtesy DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures Transformers courtesy DreamWorks/Paramount Pictures

The big-screen, live-action Transformers pocketed $27.4 million in its official July 3 debut, beating the previous Tuesday record of $15.7 million set last year by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. "The timing on this movie was perfect, with the holiday in the middle of the week," the president of box-office tracker Media by Numbers tells the Associated Press. "This film has six days plus a preview to stretch its legs." And robotic arms. And neck. And artillery-filled ears.

Transformers, which is now playing in 4,011 theaters nationwide, took in $8.8 million with some Monday-night preview screenings.

UPDATE: Transformers broke another box-office record by grossing $29.1 million on its second full day of release - the most ever for a July 4 holiday. ( Spider-Man 2 was the record holder, with $22 mil.) Transformers' new $29.1 mil also marked the best Wednesday ever for a non-sequel movie, exceeding The Passion of the Christ's $26.6 mil.