Transformers Cools Another Summer Box Office Weekend
By John Hamann
June 25, 2017
On opening day, The Last Knight's domestic future was told. It earned $15.7 million on Wednesday, less than half of the last film's opening Wednesday ($37.7 million), and about 1,000 years away from the second film's first day, which came in at $62 million, and even lost out to the original's $27.9 million. You can see that Transformers peaked domestically with the second film, and then dropping heavily with each new film. The second day for the current film, The Last Knight, was immistakably bad, as the Thursday finished with $8.1 million, an amount the last film didn't sink to until day 13 of its run. The Last Knight had only $23.8 million prior to Friday, where the previous film had $64.8 million and Transformers 2 had $91.1 million. Over its first two days, Transformers: The Last Knight was being virtually ignored domestically, and would have to hope that the weekend would bring the kids out.
The Last Knight's Friday continued to be comparably miserable finishing the day with $13.6 million. The previous film opened on a Friday, and pulled in $41.9 million, but was lifted by $9 million from previews. Transformers 5 wasn't even close to the original's first Friday, which came in at $22.7 million, and was its fourth day of release as it opened on Tuesday. The lowest opening weekend for a Transformers movie was the original's $70.5 million, and The Last Knight didn't have a shot of getting there. The Michael Bay film had a series-lowest three-day opening weekend of only $45.3 million, and another series low for the five day at $69.1 million. This puts a new level of bad out for Summer 2017, and while studios are still raking in cash due to overseas markets, I have to wonder how domestic theatre owners are feeling, as you can't sell popcorn to tumbleweeds. We know the domestic weekend was terrible, so Paramount and Hasbro would be looking overseas for confirmation their $210 million expenditure was going to be fine.
Regular readers of this column will know that I say a blockbuster like this needs to earn three times its production budget globally, so with domestic potentially coming in as low as $150 million, overseas would need $450 million minimum to ensure Paramount breaks its ugly streak of domestic disturbances. The Last Knight will have no problem turning a profit – it earned $196 million overseas this weekend, setting the high point for the studio. Transformers 5 was huge again in China, earning an amazing $123 million, putting it on track to beat the $320 million earned by Transformers 4.
The studio needed the overseas bailout, as Paramount has released five films this year, and their current domestic number one is Baywatch. Yes, Baywatch with its $57 million domestic gross had been its number one film domestically, despite being unable to earn more than its $69 million budget. Other Paramount domestic notables this year are xXx: The Return of Xander Cage ($45 million), Ghost in the Shell ($40.5 million), Monster Trucks ($33.4 million) and Rings ($27 million). The only one of those that fought back with a strong overseas gross was Xander Cage ($300 million overseas), thanks to a gross in China of $164 million. The studio was counting on Transformers, as three of their next five releases are Oscar bait, Mother! with Jennifer Lawrence and directed by Darren Aronofsky, Suburbicon, directed by George Clooney from a script by the Coen Brothers, and Downsizing from Alexander Payne. Bigger releases include a Cloverfield movie and Daddy's Home 2, sequel to the 2015 movie that everyone was screaming for.