SUNDAY AM, 5TH UPDATE: I don’t blame Michael Bay or Paramount for making unnecessary fourquels. I do blame you for paying to see this hot mess. Bay’s all too familiar visual and aural formula of crashes and explosions interspersed with barely there dialogue between robots and humans (and now dinobots) caused Paramount’s Transformers: Age Of Extinction to open to $100M domestic this first weekend and to an international cume through Sunday of $201.3M. The global total should climb to $301.3M for 2014′s biggest opening weekend here and abroad. With a 35% uplift over Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, the film transformed box office records by opening #1 in all 37 international territories on 10,152 locations. So there’s a fivequel planned. (Long sigh…)
Bay knows his audience and gives them what they want: the same action and plot over and over and over and over again, ad nauseam. Which is why Bay pocketed $60M from Paramount for just one of his Transformers installments not long ago. Now he and the studio can boast the biggest opening domestic day of 2014 - $41.6M Friday for #1. Saturday fell -21% for $32.1M with an ‘A-’ Cinemascore helping word of mouth, and Sunday should drop -25%. Paramount all day Friday was cautioning me to expect only mid to high $90sM – but that stopped by Saturday midday. Playing in 4,233 U.S. and Canadian theaters this first weekend, TF4 should exceed what the last Transformers 3 did ($97.8M). So how did Paramount sell this fourquel? By turning the marketing campaign to full throttle just like Bay did. (See below.)
At a longer than average 165 minutes playing time (prompting one of my Twitter followers to snark, "Citizen Kane is 119 min. Is there any good reason for Transformers 4 to clock in at 165 min?"), Transformers 4 can’t get in as many 2D and 3D and IMAX screenings daily. But by opening before July 4th, as opposed to Independence Week last time, it should play to a better multiple. This pic intro-ed a new human cast - starring opposite old and new autobots and dinos – featuring the boring Mark Wahlberg (instead of bad-boy Shia LaBoeuf who’s been discarded by Bay and seemingly everybody else in Hollywood), Nicola Peltz (who plays Wahlberg’s "hot" 17-year-old daughter in Bay-dictated Daisy Dukes and too much bronzer), Kelsey Grammer, and Stanley Tucci. Wahlberg and TF4 producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura have made 6 movies together. Cost of the movie is $210M, according to my sources. For that price you get eye fatigue and hearing loss. The money certainly wasn’t spent on human words which are sparing and downright stupid in Ehren Kruger’s screenplay and overshadowed by Optimus Prime’s predictable and often painful "wisdom". Spare us next time.
Produced by Don Murphy & Tom DeSanto, Di Bonaventura and Ian Bryce, and once again fueled by and fueling Hasbro’s Transformers Action Figures, the pic opened to $8.7M from 2,990 Thursday late shows beginning at 9 PM. That’s less than the last installment’s late show take ($13.5M from Transformers: Dark Of The Moon) so the wannasee became wait-and-see. But see they did. Exit polling showed the film’s audience was overwhelmingly men because that’s how Bay conceives these male wet dreams: 64% to 36%, and 42% under age 25 while 58% age 25 and over.
In addition this 4th installment in the multi-billion dollar Transformer franchise started the weekend with $80M internationally after adding $52M on Friday in 36 markets. At $90M in China through Sunday, it earned the largest opening weekend for a foreign film ever and doubled TF3‘s take there.
The Friday international result was 42% above Dark Of The Moon which opened to $161M in similar markets in 2011. In China, Age Of Extinction grossed just over $30M on opening day Friday. This represented a record for the largest opening day for a foreign film in China. Rob Moore, Vice Chairman of Paramount Pictures announced, "We especially want to thank China Film Group, China Movie Channel, Jiaflix, M1905, China Movie Media and Shanghai Hua Hua. We are incredibly grateful to all of our Chinese partners who made this fantastic result possible." (A significant part of the movie takes place there. Fanboys and reviewers complained about the "very obvious placement" of Chinese products.)
Going into Friday TF4 opened to $30M overseas for a worldwide total of $38.7M – placing #1 in all 22 early-releasing territories. Key weekend highlights included Russia with a massive $21.7M opening weekend, second biggest of all time and largest opening of 2014 and +50% above Transformers 3 date is $9.1M. Australia brought in $10.0M total. Taiwan grossed $8.3M, the biggest of 2014. And new records were set in Korea, Hong Kong, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Thailand.
The first theatrical 2D teaser trailer debuted March 7th with 300: Rise of An Empire, then played with Need For Speed, Divergent, Noah, The Other Woman and Neighbors. An IMAX version played with the IMAX releases of Captain America: Winter Soldier and Amazing Spider-Man 2. A new 3D trailer launched May 23rd. A family-specific trailer debuted on May 30 with Maleficent. Paramount tells me TF4′s in-theater print campaign marked the studio’s most varied ever, geared to give audiences "a deeper look" at the new movie characters. Unprecedented number of exclusive on-screen spots featuring Mark Wahlberg played from mid-May to mid-July on 20,000 movie screens. Large-scale promotions with top national and regional circuits included integrations from social media, home page takeovers and dedicated fan outreach. One million collectors’ Transformers RealD 3D glasses were given away to first fans seeing the film.
Unlike other Hollywood studios, Paramount embraced the World Cup and TF4 had a multilayered campaign tying into it and big ad buys during key games across ESPN and Univision. A spot with Optimus Prime and soccer stars was created for global use.
Spots ran during the premiere of TNT’s Last Ship from executive producer Michael Bay as well as on Comedy Central/Spike where a car in a shopping mall parking lot was rigged so that TJ Miller could make the vehicle talk like a Transformer to shoppers.
Online, TF4 launched a Superbowl spot in early February introducing the dinobots which became the #1 movie spot coming out of the game in terms of social mentions online. Paramount even later let fans request Optimus Prime to pick them up for a ride via popular Uber app. The first-of-its-kind partnership for a movie reached 50M social impressions. Also Optimus was reading fan tweets. Video gamers were snagged with Global Xbox takeovers and a first of its kind “Grimmlock Pet” for users to feature as their avatar. Additionally, to capitalize on the huge audience that plays Minecraft, influencers recreated their best TF4 inspired structure in partnership with Maker Studios.
The Transformers: Age of Extinction worldwide junket and premiere was held june 18-20 in Hong Kong, a city featured prominently in the movie. On the red carpet, a Giant Optimus Statue stood against the city skyline and a performance by the film’s "Battle Cry" song band Imagine Dragons (who announced a contest supported by U.S. radio and online promotions to attend the screening). The film also premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival closing night and in Beijing. The movie’s U.S. premiere was held at Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City on June 25, and the global tour continues on with premieres in Berlin, Rio, and Tokyo through the end of July.
Paramount sent the cast on its most extensive early talent tour to date since Wahlberg et al had to be introduced to the press. The studio also executed a massive $175M promotional push from corporate brand partners around the world including GM Chevrolet and Oreo Cookies, Big Red soda, Valero gas stations and Western Star trucks.
2. Sony’s 22 Jump Street (Week 3 – 3,426 theaters) had a good FSS hold of -46% in spite of Transformers 4 accounting for 57% of overall moviegoing this weekend. The Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill comedy earned $5.0M Friday and $6.0M Saturday for a $15M weekend. Through Sunday the cume should be $139.4M.
3. DreamWorks Animation/Fox’s How To Train Your Dragon 2 (Week 3 – 3,750 theaters) also held well with no kiddie competition. It made $4.1M Friday and $5.1M Saturday for a $12.7M weekend (-49%) and what’s expected to be a $121.4M cume.
4. Screen Gems/Sony’s Think Like A Man 2 (Week 2 – 2,225 theaters) did not get the hold that the studio expected or wanted. It did only $3.4M Friday and $4.1M Saturday for a big -66% drop from a week ago and just a $10.2M weekend and $48.0M cume.
5. Disney’s Maleficent (Week 5 – 3,073 theaters) added $2.5M Friday and $3.3M Saturday for an $8.2M weekend and $201.8M cume, joining both X-Men 2 and Amazing Spider-Man 2 in the $200M domestic club this summer.
6. Warner Bros’ Jersey Boys (Week 2 – 2,905 theaters) from Clint Eastwood sank to #6 with only $2.2M Friday and $3.1M Saturday for a $7.4M weekend (-82%) and a mere $27.1M cume. Toast.