World Box Office: Transformers continues sequel fatigue

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Continuing this year’s trend of sequel fatigue in the US market, Transformers: The Last Knight opened to a series domestic low $69 million. Its $45 million three-day take is less than half of Age of Extinction’s $100 million opening in 2014 and still $25 million off of the 2007 original Transformers.

For this edition Mark Wahlberg returns as Cade Yeager, the Texan robotics tinkerer introduced in the last film to replace the recently unhinged Shia Lebouf’s character. He has to fight his old friend and series hero Optimus Prime. Humanity’s greatest weapon against the evil Decepticon robots is the thirty-odd times great-granddaughter of Merlin, the wizard from King Arthur’s tales, and a staff her forefather used to control a robotic dragon and fight off invading Saxon war bands in the fifth century. US viewers seem to have grown tired of these outlandish plotlines. Many foreign audiences however, just as they showed with fellow summer domestic half-flops Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mummy and Alien:Covenant, are still up for the ride.

This is especially true in China, where Last Knight made $123.4 million in its opening run. That number includes a massive $47 million Friday. Predecessor Age of Extinction opened at $92 million but its $324 million record run was helped by a month long moratorium on foreign films that left it largely uncontested at the PRC box office. While Last Knight’s first weekend has been extraordinary, without this lucky circumstance it won’t have much of a good shot at breaking Extinction’s record. Next biggest market South Korea drummed up $13 million, then came Russia with $8.9 million. TLK made $5.7 million in the UK and another $4.7 million in Germany. Total foreign sales have so far been worth $196.2 million, with major territories France, Brazil and Mexico still to come. $45 million for a three-day domestic opening is not a major victory for what was once the epitome of the mega-film, but a $241 million global launch is a definite success even by today’s outrageous blockbuster standards.

Hindsight might show that theirs wasn’t the best strategy but no studio chose to put out a wide release in the face of Transformers’ historical domination of the charts. Instead the biggest new additions to the North American market were a Telugu language action-rom-com and two well pedigreed indie projects. Duvvada Jagannadham (DJ), from Hyderabad studio Sri Venkateswara Creations, made $1 million in its US launch and on the tail of last months’ Baahubali 2: The Conclusion is showing that Indian films have found something of a second home market. Judd Apatow produced comedy The Big Sick, co-released by Amazon and Lionsgate, opened in five niche theatres and made $435 thousand for a tidy $87 thousand per theatre average. Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, which features Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, made $240k in four theatres.

In holdover news Wonder Woman reached $652 million worldwide, Cars 3 pulled up to $141 million, The Mummy reached $342 million, and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales reached $677 million.

Next week will be pretty packed with Despicable Me 3, The House, Baby Driver, and Amityville: The Awakening all opening at the US box office.

Courtesy HFPA.

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