The 500 pound gorilla of the summer box office has arrived. Having sufficiently chased off all other movies from its own weekend, and anything of real quality from the weekends of either side of it, the pressure is all on Transformers to prove it's worth the fuss of all this.
Weekend Forecast for June 27-29, 2014
By Reagen Sulewski
June 27, 2014
With July 4th falling on an awkward day for box office this year, this has become the defacto peak opener weekend, and has been granted to Transformers: Insert Subtitle Here. Michael Bay brings us the fourth entry in the visual and auditory assault on the senses that is this franchise, but the one question on everyone's mind is: can it survive the departure of Shia La... Okay, I just couldn't get through that sentence. So yeah, the series has finally decided to stop lugging the corpse of Shia LaBeouf's career around, and replaced him as the human protagonist, with a real star, Mark Wahlberg.
Playing perhaps the least convincing Texan in cinema history, he discovers the scraps of what turns out to be Optimus Prime and reassembles him, setting in motion a new conflict between the Autobots and the Decepticons for something something magic cube probably. Look, here's some Dinobots! (This script meeting transcript brought to you by “Explosions!”) The plot, such as it is, sees all Transformers viewed as enemies to mankind, given their penchant for destroying the place when they fight, which is often. So after reactivating Optimus, Wahlberg and his family are sent on the run from sinister government agents (led by Kelsey Grammar, who does a 180 from his X-Men attitude of “different powers must be embraced” to “difference must be destroyed!” Which is it, Kelsey?) intent on destroying the Transformers and fashioning them into weapons for humanity's use.
But then, rigid adherence to the three act structure isn't what you come to these films for – rather, it's the non-stop (even when it probably should) action sequences and pandering to childhood memories, combined with awkward and inappropriate humor. That is what you come to them for, right? I could list all the other human actors in the film like Stanley Tucci, TJ Miller and Sophia Myles, but they don't make a lick of difference to the appeal of it. Each of the previous films made boatloads of money, with the second passing $400 million. That the third film was a drop from that height probably points towards just how epically terrible the second film was, and soured people on the franchise, if only a little bit. Early word on this says “not as bad as two, a little worse than three”, if that in any way matters to you.
In many ways, this is a very cynical film, made not because Michael Bay had any particular story he wanted to tell about giant transforming robots, but because people respond well to “ooh, shiny” and “hey, I remember that bit from the cartoon!” All three films had massive opening weekends, although they've all usually been modified in some fashion. This is as close to a “pure” opening weekend as this series has had (though there is the de rigeur Thursday evening sneak), and should translate into a higher three day total, around $107 million this weekend.
Returning films are a fair bit of weak sauce in terms of absolute numbers, likely to be led by 22 Jump Street, though any of three films are in the running to be second. Jump Street will pass the domestic total of its predecessor sometime mid-next week, and seems to be aiming towards around $175 million domestic. Will this most-self aware series since Scream go for a trilogy? It's hard to argue against it for monetary reasons, but if that stands in the way of my Clone High series, I will vociferously argue against it for that reason. Give it $15 million this weekend.
How To Train Your Dragon 2 will almost certainly throw under the domestic total for its original film, since it is about level with the box office for the same number of days and is dropping more steeply. The third film is already essentially made, so there's no worry about another film happening, but unless there's a tremendous change in fortune, that should be that. Look for another $14 million here.
Think Like a Man Too fired well under the first film, which is quite an anomaly for a decently regarded film. While it did win the weekend with $29 million, That shows a fundamental weakness in the franchise, and highlights the inessential nature of this film. I predict a huge drop for this romantic comedy, to around $12 million.
Maleficent should stick in the top five for the weekend, after showing some surprising legs in its fourth weekend. Disney's twisted fairy tale should bring in around $9 million this frame.
Jersey Boys was either a disappointment or wound up exactly where you'd expect it to, or maybe both at the same time, with an opening weekend of $13 million. Catering to a small demographic, this was probably doomed from the start. It should see about $8 million this weekend.
Finally, there's Edge of Tomorrow still hanging around, and struggling, straining, to hit that $100 million mark. It may bring in $5 million this weekend on its way to that figure.