How the mighty bots have fallen.
Paramount and Michael Bay's Transformers: The Last Knight grossed $69.1 million from 4,069 theaters in its five-day debut at the North American box office, a franchise low and casting doubt on the future of the series. That figure includes a Friday-Sunday take of $45.3 million.
The Last Knight, which Paramount says cost $217 million to make before a major marketing spend, is the latest summer sequel to spring an oil leak, at least in the U.S., coming in 31 percent behind Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). And it is the first Transformers movie not to open to $100 million or more.
The good news? Transformers 5 is wielding a sharper sword overseas, where it earned $196.2 million from its first 40 markets — including $123.4 million in China alone — for a global start of $265.3 million. The movie's performance continues the trend set by Age of Extinction, which did far more business internationally, becoming the first Transformers film to clear $1 billion worldwide upon grossing $858.6 million offshore, compared to a domestic take of $245.4 million. Imax theaters contributed $24.3 million.
"The movie was conceived of for a global audience and it performed for a global audience. You aren’t making the movie with just the U.S. in mind," said Paramount president of marketing and distribution Megan Colligan.
Mark Wahlberg returns to star in The Last Knight — he made his franchise debut in reboot Age of Extinction — while Laura Haddock and Anthony Hopkins join the series as an Oxford professor and English lord, respectively. Together, the three characters must race to uncover the secret history of the Transformers before the world is destroyed. Josh Duhamel, who appeared in the first three Transformers movies but sat out Age of Extinction, also stars.
The Transformers franchise has never been a favorite of critics, with The Last Knight currently sporting a lowly 15 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences gave the film a B+ CinemaScore. Males made up 57 percent of the audience, while 51 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 25. The movie brings more bad news for Paramount following summer misfire Baywatch.
Bay has said Last Knight would be his last Transformers film, but Paramount still plans on keeping the franchise alive. Last year, the studio, then under the leadership of the late Brad Grey, announced three more Transformers movies, including an untitled Bumblebee spinoff set for release on June 8, 2018. It will now be up to newly installed Paramount chairman-CEO Jim Gianopulos to decide the fate of any further chapters beyond the spinoff. Bumblebee, starring Hailee Steinfeld and directed by Travis Knight, is set to begin shooting later this summer.
Elsewhere, Warner Bros. and Patty Jenkins' Wonder Woman — a summer standout — continued to set records in its fourth weekend, becoming the top-grossing live-action film directed by a woman. The superhero tentpole earned an impressive $25.2 million to cross $300 million domestically. Globally, the Gal Gadot-starrer's gross stands at $652.9 million.
Sunday estimates show Wonder Woman tying with Disney and Pixar's Cars 3 for second place. The outcome will be determined when final weekend numbers are tallied on Monday.
Cars 3 shows an early worldwide total of $141.3 million (the movie is rolling out slowly overseas). It fell 53 percent domestically, a relatively steep decline for an animated event film. Last weekend, the threequel debuted to $53.7 million, a franchise low.
Indie shark movie 47 Meters Down placed No. 4 with $7.4 million, while All Eyez on Me and The Mummy were in a close race for the No. 5 spot with roughly $5.8 million each.
There was big news at the specialty box office as helmer Michael Showalter's The Big Sick and The Beguiled, from director Sofia Coppola, posted two of the best theater averages of the year to date.
Amazon Studios and Lionsgate's critical darling The Big Sick, which debuted in five theaters, earned $435,000 for a robust screen average of $87,000. From a script by Kumail Nanjiani and his now-wife, Emily Gordon, the film draws from their real-life courtship and revolves around a young Pakistani comedian (Nanjiani) and his American girlfriend (Zoe Kazan) who must contend with their cultural differences (and two very different sets of parents) when she becomes gravely ill. Judd Apatow produced the pic, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
The Big Sick is another victory for Amazon Studios, following Oscar contender Manchester by the Sea.
"We're already seeing people seeing The Big Sick twice," said Bob Berney, president of marketing and distribution for Amazon Studios. "It's a really sweet rom-com, and Michael was able to balance the romance and the comedy perfectly. I think it will build and play all summer."
The Beguiled, which debuted in four cinemas, earned $241,000 for a theater average of $60,136. Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell and Kirsten Dunst star in this story of a Southern all-girls school that takes in a Union solider during the Civil War. The Focus Features movie premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in May, earning Coppola the best director prize (she's only the second woman to ever win the honor).
“We’re thrilled by this opening, which is particularly satisfying as it represents the highest opening per-screen average for any of Sofia Coppola’s films and is well-positioned for next weekend’s expansion," said Focus president of distribution Lisa Bunnell. "This is Focus’ third collaboration with Sofia, and she’s created an entertaining, atmospheric thriller featuring strong female representation in front of and behind the camera."
Due to The Last Knight's disappointing opening, overall box-office revenue was down more than 25 percent from the same weekend a year ago, but analysts are confident business will pick up next weekend, when Baby Driver and Despicable Me 3 open. The latter pic is expected to be a behemoth and has already rolled out in its first six markets overseas, earning $18.9 million to date.