“Let them hate,” Michael Bay told MTV about critics, fanboys and haters late last week. “They’re still going to see the movie.” And yep, Michael Bay was right. You may claim to hate the explosions-happy filmmaker and the “Transformers” franchise, but clearly your love-hate relationships ends with you in bed with them at the box office. Or someone you know saw the newest installment, anyhow. Michael Bay movies are akin to Dave Matthews and Nickelback: it’s impossible to find someone within a 10,000 square mile radius who will admit to liking them, but they sell millions of records. Clearly someone is buying.
Not even a pitiful 17% Rotten Tomatoes score could stop “Transformers: Age Of Extinction” (the lowest RT score of the series). It’s like critics were trying to save everyone time and money with that kind of score and audiences decided to plunge forward anyway. ‘Age Of Extinction’ made a whopping $100 million domestically in its debut opening this weekend. Of course, this demonstrates once again the huge disparity between those passionate moviegoers who kvetch and bitch on the internet, and regular moviegoers who just don’t give a rat’s ass (or even know) about what an RT score is. Even a near 3-hour running time couldn’t scare off the "plebians."
‘Age Of Extinction’ not only cracked the coveted $100 million mark, it was the first film to do so in the semi-sluggish 2014 box-office. Bay’s ‘Extinction’ now boasts the title of highest grossing opening of the year, and it's a good bet it'll hold on to that title through year's end. The opening is down 7.4% from "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," but up 3% from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," so franchise fatigue hasn’t set in despite the fact that Bay’s film, from all accounts and reviews, sounds overdone and overwrought even by his overkill standards (here’s our review). So yeah, don't expect this series to go away anytime soon. “Transformers 5” is already being eyed for summer 2016, and another will soon follow.
That said, does the fourth installment have legs to stand on? That’s where the distinction could be made. “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” grossed a whopping $1.123 billion in 2011 (it's the 7th highest grossing film of all time). No film in the series has grossed less than $700 million worldwide (only three films have crossed that threshold this year). And if you thought “Transformers” would make megabucks in China, you were right. 'Age Of Extinction’ had a monstrous opening abroad: $201 million, which combined with its stateside haul, tallied up $301.3 million global debut, a record high for 2014, with $90 million of that from China. And with the highest opening of the year, it suggests reaching the $700 million mark worldwide will be easy. It’s just a question of whether it can reach $1 billion (a $300 million ww debut suggest, yes, this is doable). Doomsayers and “death of cinema” pundits take note: you’re probably looking at the year’s highest grossing film (unless “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” can outpace it in December).
Elsewhere in the box-office, Sony's "22 Jump Street" is still holding on strong, keeping the #2 position for the second week in a row with only a 44% drop. The film has grossed $122 million domestically (global total $194.1 million) and at this pace should be able to hit $150m at least domestically which would put it into the top 10 of highest grossing R-Rated comedies of all time domestically. Also holding on decently with a 45% drop was DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox’s "How to Train Your Dragon 2." The film has grossed $122 million domestically, but is still placing below the original by around 10%, investors haven’t been happy and it feels doubtful the film will hit the global mark of almost $500 million worldwide. But $229 million in three weeks globally is not too shabby either. And as the only animated player for kids currently in the market, it will probably stick around for most of the summer, so there’s still time (next week's family film "Earth to Echo" is likely not much of a threat). Maybe investors should chill a little with this one.
Alternatively, “Think Like A Man Too,” which opened at #1 last weekend, plummeted hard around 62% to the number 4 slot. Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent” is still hanging out in the top 5 and has now cracked the $200 million mark. It has already outgrossed “Godzilla” in its fifth week whereas, that monster movie is basically on fumes domestically (and no longer in the top 10 and probably going to fall slightly shy of $200 million at home). Jolie's film will cross $600 million next weekend. A sequel awaits. Clint Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys” only fell 43% and while its box-opening showing has been far from a success, it appears the underserved above-50 crowd are attending.
Tom Cruise’s “Edge Of Tomorrow” is starting to grow a little soft after an unexpected hold for its first few weekends. At week #4, the movie took in around $5 million and it’s at around the $84 million mark at home. It could squeak up to $100 million if it plays for four more weekends at this pace, but even at a conservative $3.5 million each weekend for four weeks, the film will fall short. Still the movie has grossed $218 million internationally so far (additional numbers will hit later today) and it has cracked the $300 million mark worldwide. And note the narrative: 2013's "Oblivion" was only half the bomb that “Edge of Tomorrow” was with doomsaying Tom Cruise critics, but the latter film has already outperformed the former both overseas and at home.
Rounding out the top 10 you have "The Fault In Our Stars" (almost over $110 million domestically), "X-Men Days Of Future Past" (crossing the coveted $700 million mark worldwide, around $223m at home which suggests Brett Ratner’s X- film will still hold the highest grossing Mutant film Stateside) and Jon Favreau’s “Chef” which, like almost every weekend of its 8 weeks of release, had the best hold with only an 8% drop. He’s almost cracked $20 million with this little indie movie and considering its much smaller scope, he’s got to be tremendously pleased. The picture might end up being the indie success story of 2014 bar the higher-budgeted “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” 'Days Of Future Past's biggest milestone however was hitting the $712 million mark worldwide: this mean the super hero film is the highest grossing film of 2014 so far having surpassed "Captain American: The Winter Soldier" ($711 million worldwide).
Elsewhere, long gone from the top 10, “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” finally squeaked by the $200 million mark domestically. It's been in theaters eight weeks, so the film is basically done, ending its run ignominiously as the lowest grossing film in the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise (Sam Raimi's films included). Sure, it cracked the $700 million mark worldwide, but with an outrageous cost and huge marketing budget, Sony was aiming for $1 billion. Those rumors that “The Amazing Spider-Man 3” will be delayed so Sony can rethink the series and its approach are starting to sound more and more plausible. One has to wonder if that means they’re going to change directors too (if the rumor turns out to be true). “Frozen” is still a juggernaut abroad and specifically in Japan: 16 straight weeks at number one with an international gross of $863 million. It is the fifth highest grossing movie of all time now worldwide (but probably won’t surpass "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" for the fourth position).
In limited release, Bong Joon-Ho's "Snowpierecer" opened with an estimated $162,127 this weekend from 8 locations for a $20,266 per screen average. That’s good, but falls even below John Carney's “Begin Again,” also open in limited, which scored $148,325 from five venues—for a $29,665 per screen average. Both of them are also below John Turturro's "Fading Gigolo" and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” which has 2014’s highest per screen average of the year and there’s likely no way that figure will be beat—it’s also the highest PSA of all time in limited release).
Final International numbers will be updated later in the day when they arrive. All estimates not 100% final at this time.
1. Transformers: Age of Extinction — $103M
2. 22 Jump Street — $15.4M ($139.4M)
3. How to Train Your Dragon 2 — $13.1M ($122.5M)
4. Think Like A Man Too — $10.4M ($48.25M)
5. Maleficent — $8.2M ($201.9M)
6. Jersey Boys — $7.61M to $7.5M ($27.3M)
7. Edge of Tomorrow — $5.2M ($84M)
8. The Fault In Our Stars — $4.8M ($109.8M)
9. X-Men: Days of Future Past — $3.3M ($223.2M)
10. Chef — $1.58M ( $19.3M)