Optimus Prime and his Autobots have returned in some style after a three year hiatus. Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth in the franchise, has become the first movie of the year to open with $100 million in North America. These are the studio estimates though, and a bit of a variance is expected when the actual figures are announced; but even if it slips a little below, Transformers: Age of Extinction would still have the best opening weekend of the year, ahead of Captain America: The Winter Soldier ($95.0 million), Godzilla ($93.2 million), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ($91.6 million) and X-Men: Days of Future Past ($90.8 million). In the Transformers franchise itself, this is the second best opening weekend after Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen that had an opening weekend of $108 million. But the previous films of the series had a mid-week opening which may have lowered their first weekend figures somewhat. So while each of the movies in the franchise has earned more than $300 million domestically, Transformers: Age of Extinction may struggle to meet that challenge, though it should come close.
But as is the case nowadays, it ain’t only about North America. It is about China too. And Transformers: Age of Extinction had gone out of its way to secure a lot of Chinese fan following (with its Hong Kong shots and addition of a Chinese actress along with loads of promotion) which has worked tremendously well. The movie opened to a never-seen-before $90 million earnings in China, which is almost as good as the domestic opening for the movie. In addition, it has done well in almost all of the global markets it has opened in, eventually raking in $300 million worldwide in the first weekend alone! The movie has a $210 million production budget and would, in all likelihood, have a $100 million or so marketing budget too. But these numbers appear small after such a tremendous opening, as Transformers: Age of Extinction would be gunning for a $1 billion worldwide tally by the end of its theatrical run, a feat which Transformers: Dark of the Moon had achieved in 2011. Who’s going to stop these big aliens! And say what you may about Michael Bay, the director who is likely to sign off from the Transformers movie series now (if he doesn’t have a change of heart again), he’s made huge robots fighting each other one of the biggest things in Hollywood cinema.
No other movie mustered any strength to face the Transformers over the weekend. So the remaining spoils were shared by the holdover movies. Last weekend’s top movie Think Like A Man Too slipped badly to fourth position after a 64% drop in its second weekend, though it has already done good for itself, given its modest production budget. So that puts 22 Jump Street below Transformers: Age of Extinction in second place; this comedy flick has now earned close to $140 million domestically which is already above the total domestic earnings of 21 Jump Street. On the other hand, the animated flick How To Train your Dragon 2 is slipping away. It has earned about $122 million in North America over three weekends, which is marginally below the tally of its predecessor over the same period. Ultimately, this sequel is unlikely to reach even $200 million in the domestic market (the first movie had earned $218 million), and would need a pickup in the international markets to achieve anything noteworthy; as of now, even the foreign earnings remain tepid with $106 million. Amongst the other big movies, Maleficent reached $200 million domestically, making it the fifth movie to do so this year. X-Men: Days of Future Past has inched past Captain America: The Winter Soldier with $713 million worldwide earnings to make it the biggest movie of the year so far, though of course the Transformers are on their way!
Here are the top 5 weekend earners at the US box-office (estimates):
1. Transformers: Age of Extinction ($100.0 million)
2. 22 Jump Street ($15.4 million; third weekend)
3. How To Train Your Dragon 2 ($13.1 million; third weekend)
4. Think Like A Man Too ($10.4 million; second weekend)
5. Maleficent ($8.2 million; fifth weekend)