Weekend Wrap-Up

Transformers Cools Another Summer Box Office Weekend

By John Hamann

June 25, 2017

Do robots even really need swords?

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Another epic blockbuster with a $200 million+ budget, another epic disappointment for summer 2017. When will the madness stop?

The last month has not been kind to the box office, save for Wonder Woman. Pirates of the Caribbean 5, Baywatch, The Mummy, It Comes at Night, Cars 3, and Rough Night have been failures at the domestic box office of all shapes and sizes, with a few of the bigs (POTC5, The Mummy) saved by overseas audiences. This weekend we throw another log on the fire, as Transformers: The Last Knight opens lower the previous four films, showing just how awesome The Fast and Furious is doing after eight movies. The Paramount release – usually an absolute juggernaut at the box office – scared all other wide releases away this weekend, giving some of the holdovers a chance. What it really did was allow Wonder Woman to continue to roll, and potentially open the door a little for Edgar Wright's Baby Driver, Will Ferrell's The House, and of course, Despicable Me 3.


When the first Transformers hit in 2007, it was an odd duck, opening on the Monday prior to a July 4th Wednesday. It accumulated a huge $84.9 million before it got to its first traditional weekend, like it was shot out of a cannon The original's opening weekend is listed at $70.5 million, but since opening day, it had amassed $155.4 million. That was $5 million more than its production budget, and a franchise was born. The original finished domestically with $319.2 million, and earned another $390 million overseas, creating a huge win for Paramount and Hasbro. The sequel, Revenge of the Fallen, hit in 2009, earning $62 million on its opening Wednesday, had a Friday to Sunday of $109 million, and 5-day of $200 million. The second film earned $402 domestically and $434 million overseas, against a higher $200 million budget. The third film, Dark of the Moon, opened to $97.8 million, and finished with $352 million domestically, and $1.1 billion worldwide. Nothing that happened domestically with Dark of the Moon mattered, as it earned $771.4 million overseas, against a $195 million budget. Paramount and Hasbro didn't even have to release it domestically to earn a profit.

The fourth film, Age of Extinction, earned "only" $100 million over its opening weekend, and fizzled domestically with $245.4 million, barely eclipsing the $210 million budget. Had the 4th film not been released overseas, it would have been considered a failure. Instead, it had its biggest international take of the series, pulling in $858 million. China alone took in $320 million, and the global take finished at $1.1 billion, notably slightly less than the previous film globally, because of the large drop off in the States. Critically, all were disasters except the first, which finished at Rotten Tomatoes with a 57% fresh rating. The rest, in order, finished at 19%, 35%, 18%, but on the other hand, Cinemascores never dipped below a B+. Paramount and Hasbro bet another $217 million on the fifth film, The Last Knight, knowing that domestic gross could crater further, as long as the overseas amounts stayed strong.

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