Box Office: 'Transformers 4' Scores $41.6M Friday for $100M Weekend

8:35 AM PST 06/28/2014 by Pamela McClintock

UPDATED: The 3D tentpole earned another $52 million overseas on Friday, including a record $30 million in China, the biggest opening day of all time for a foreign film.

Paramount's Transformers: Age of Extinction delivered a $41.6 million Friday at the North American box office after earning an A- CinemaScore from moviegoers who disregarded dismal reviews.

And unless traffic drops off dramatically on Saturday, the $210 million tentpole should become the first movie of 2014 to earn $100 million in its first weekend, a needed boost for Hollywood and easily the biggest opening of star Mark Wahlberg's career.

Age of Extinction — featuring a new leading man in Wahlberg, who replaces the troubled Shia LaBeouf — is also doing huge business overseas, where it earned another $52 million Friday for an early international total of $80 million and worldwide total of $121.6 million.

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It is opening in major markets China, Australia and Russia this weekend, along with a raft of medium-sized and smaller territories (it's waiting to roll out in Europe and Latin America until after the World Cup). It took in a record $30 million in China on Friday, the biggest opening day of all time for a foreign film.

Age of Extinction  went to great lengths to prosper in China, including shooting at some of the country's most iconic sights, such as the Great Wall .

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 Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and introduces the Dinobots (i.e., dinosaur robots) for the first time.

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Age of Extinction will best the $97.9 million earned by Dark of the Moon in its first weekend in 2011. 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).

In terms of 2014 summer tentpoles, Godzilla opened to $93.2 million, while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 earned $91.6 million and X-Men: Days of Future Past, $90.8 million. Opening weekend numbers don't portend how well a film will hang on (Days of Future Past is the biggest earner to date of the three, with more than $710 million in global ticket sales).

Age of Extinction could have especially strong legs because it has virtually no competition for a month. To boot, it opens on the eve of the Fourth of July week.

No other movie dared go up against Age of Extinction and open nationwide this weekend.

Among holdovers, Sony's 22 Jump Street remains strong in its third outing and will eclipse the entire lifetime gross of 21 Jump Street ($138.5 million) sometime over the weekend. The Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill comedy came in No. 2 Friday with $5 million. Sony is also reporting that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will finally reach the $200 million mark domestically this weekend (what's impressive is that so will Maleficent).

A slew of films are opening at the specialty box office this weekend, including John Carney's Begin Again, starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Adam Levine and Hailee Steinfeld. Distributed by The Weinstein Co., the film is off to a solid start in five theaters in New York and Los Angeles and should finish the weekend with a location average of nearly $28,000.

Conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza's latest political documentary, America, is also finding its audience. Lionsgate is opening the documentary in three theaters this weekend before expanding nationwide next week. According to early estimates, the film could post a screen average as high as $20,000.

America is the follow-up to 2016: Obama’s America, which was released two years ago and has become the second most popular political documentary in history. D’Souza says that because 2016 struck a chord with Christian audiences, he expects more of the same with America.

Here are the top 10 estimates for Friday, June 27, at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Friday Total, Cume

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction, 1/2,905, Paramount, $41.6 million.

2. 22 Jump Street, 3/3,426, Sony/MGM, $5 million, $129.4 million.

3. How to Train Your Dragon 2, 2/3,750, Fox/DWA, $4.1 million, $112.8 million.

4. Think Like a Man Too, 1/2,225, Sony/Screen Gems, $3.4 million, $41.2 million.

5. Maleficent, 5/3,073, Disney, $2.6 million, $196.2 million.

6. Jersey Boys, 1/2,905, Warner Bros., $2.3 million, $22 million.

7. The Fault in Our Stars, 4/2,845, Fox, $1.9 million, $106.6 million.

8. Edge of Tomorrow, 4/2,535, Warner Bros./Village Roadshow, $1.6 million, $80.5 million.

9. X-Men: Days of Future Past, 6/2,014, Fox, $950K million, $221 million.

10. Chef, 8/801, Open Road Films, $443K, $18.2 million.

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