Box Office: 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' Poised for $100 Million-Plus Launch

Upcoming Paramount tentpole Transformers: Age of Extinction is on course to score the top opening year to date when it hits theaters later this month, according to pre-release tracking. It's also destined to do huge business internationally.

Those with access to tracking suggest the fourth installment in the action franchise will hit or cross $100 million in its North American debut, besting the $95 million debut of Captain America: The Winter Soldier in April. Projections could easily be revised upwards as the movie's release nears and Paramount makes its final marketing push.

Michael Bay returned to direct Age of Extinction, which marks a course change in that it features a new leading man -- Mark Wahlberg (Shia LaBeouf was the previous star of the series) -- and entirely new cast, including Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor. The movie takes place four years after a devastating face-off between the Autobots and the Decepticons in Chicago, and introduces the Dinobots (i.e., dinosaurs) for the first time.

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Every Transformers movie, based on the Hasbro toys, has rolled out on the eve of the lucrative Fourth of July corridor, and this year is no different, although the first three films debuted midweek to get a jump on the action. Age of Extinction is set to open on a Friday, making comparisons different.

The franchise has been one of the biggest success stories in recent times, boasting north of $2.6 billion in global ticket sales. The last installment, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, earned $1.123 billion globally upon its release in Summer 2011.

During production of Dark of the Moon, both Bay and LaBeouf confirmed it would be their final Transformers film. A number of other directors were considered, but Bay ultimately decided to make the $200 million-plus tentpole for Paramount and Hasbro. 

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