Box Office: Final Numbers Show 'Transformers 4' Debuting to $100M
It's official: Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction is the year's first movie to hit $100 million in its domestic launch.
Final weekend numbers were tallied Monday, backing up the studio's Sunday estimate of $100 million. Rival studios, however, contend the movie came in closer to between $97 million and $98 million, sparking fierce finger-pointing.
The $210 million tentpole, earning an A- CinemaScore despite blistering reviews, is also easily the biggest opening of star Mark Wahlberg's career, thanks to a strong turnout by males (64 percent).
Age of Extinction — featuring a new leading man in Wahlberg, who replaces the troubled Shia LaBeouf — did even bigger business overseas, opening to north of $200 million in 37 markets, many of them smaller.
It broke records in China, earning $93 million to mark the top weekend opening of all time, according to sources. Paramount went to great lengths to make sure the movie prospered in China, including shooting at some of the country's most iconic sights, such as the Great Wall.
The 3D film scored the top debut of the year internationally, even though it won't roll out in most of Europe and Latin America until after the World Cup. In addition to China, the tentpole generated big returns in Russia, where it took in $21.7 million, the second biggest launch of all time, with 3D grosses representing 80 percent. And it did nearly as much in South Korea, nabbing the top opening of the year with $21.5 million.
Overall, Age of Extinction is pacing 35 percent ahead of Transformers: Dark of the Moon in its first 37 territories.
Michael Bay returned to direct the fourth installment, considered a reboot because of its new cast, including young stars Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor. Age of Extinction takes place four years after a devastating face-off between the Autobots and the Decepticons in Chicago in the last film, Dark of the Moon, and introduces the Dinobots (i.e. dinosaur robots) for the first time.
Paramount's vice chairman Rob Moore said the film ushers in a new era for the series. "Mark is incredibly likable and together Michael and Mark have refreshed the franchise. You definitely see the great chemistry between them," he said.
Moore said the movie's outstanding performance in China came out of Paramount's close working partnership with China Film Group. "It was very educational" as China becomes more and more important, Moore said. He also noted that Age of Extinction was the first major studio movie to have its worldwide premiere in China.
Age of Extinction marks Bay's second win of the summer after TNT's top-rated drama The Last Ship, which he executive produced.
Based on the Hasbro toy line, Age of Extinction bested the $97.9 million earned by the last film in the series, Dark of the Moon, in its first weekend in 2011 (the movie opened on a Tuesday and took in a total $162.6 million in its first six days). The sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, grossed $108 million in its first weekend, a franchise best, although Dark of the Moon went on to become the top-grossing title in the series ($1.12 billion).
Age of Extinction generated big returns, $27.3 million, for Imax theaters in North America and overseas and $7 million for large premium-format screens. China alone generated $10 million for Imax, a record.