Age of Extinction Obliterates the Competition
By David Mumpower
June 29, 2014
Transformers: Age of Extinction exploded into theaters this weekend, and the latest tale of Autobots waging war against their enemies proved to be aptly titled. The reason is not for the unsurprisingly dominant opening weekend total in North America. Instead, it is the opening weekend in China that emphasizes the diminishing hold Hollywood’s backyard claims on movie ticket sales.
Obviously, the number one film in North America is the fourth Transformers movie. The latest Michael Bay offering delivered an estimated $100 million this weekend. Presuming the estimate holds, Age of Extinction becomes the second largest opening weekend for the franchise. This total does represent a modest 9% decline from Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The third film managed $352 million during its domestic run, a total Age of Extinction is unlikely to match. Dark of the Moon had already earned $64.8 million before its opening weekend. By the end of day five, Age of Extinction should be $35 million behind the pace of its predecessor. Realistically, the goal for the latest Transformers release is a $300 million domestic take.
Will Age of Extinction reach that milestone? A lot depends on who is right and who is wrong. Critics emphatically maintain that Transformers 4 is a garbage movie. Only 17% of Rotten Tomatoes reviewers enjoy the movie enough to give it the proverbial thumbs up. That number drops to 6% (!) if we prioritize the opinions of top critics. So, everyone should hate the movie, right? Not so fast. The early adopters polled by Cinemascore awarded Age of Extinction an A- grade, a number that matches the very popular 22 Jump Street. Once again, Bay has exploited that strange loophole between quality cinema and audience satisfaction.
The real news regarding Transformers: Age of Extinction takes place across the globe. The film claimed the largest international debut of 2014, earning $201.3 million for a global take of $301.3 million. It cost only $210 million to produce. While this is not a record-setting performance, there is an explanation as to why. Paramount has staggered the film’s release in several major markets due to the World Cup claiming the focus of potential international viewers. For this reason, the $201.3 million international debut is stunning. In fact, it could be revolutionary.
Transformers 4 debuted to $90 million in China, thereby almost matching its North American take. BOP has explained on several occasions the dangers in evaluating international revenue one to one with domestic income. This situation is different and not because the numbers are so similar. Instead, the $90 million Chinese debut reflects the in-roads Paramount and other industry corporations have made in China, a country whose earning potential has barely been touched thus far. The population of China is 1.35 billion, a factor of 3.83 more than the combined populations of the United States and Canada. We are now not that far away from a situation where the largest box office blockbusters open exponentially higher in China than North America. The Age of Extinction is aptly named as the first film to demonstrate this cataclysmic shift in earning power.