No. 1 ‘Trans­form­ers’ hits a low in its U.S. de­but but is saved by global box of­fice.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Yvonne Vil­lar­real

“Trans­form­ers: The Last Knight,” the fifth in­stall­ment in the block­buster fran­chise from Michael Bay, may have topped the week­end, but all that robots­mash­ing has got­ten a bit rusty at the box of­fice.

The Para­mount film, which opened Wed­nes­day, took in $45.3 mil­lion in the U.S. and Canada over the week­end, plac­ing it in the No. 1 spot ahead of re­turn­ing ti­tles “Cars 3” and “Won­der Woman.” When fac­tored into its five-day de­but, “The Last Knight” grossed a fran­chise low of $69 mil­lion.

That’s slightly be­low ex­pec­ta­tions and well be­hind its pre­de­ces­sor, “Trans­form­ers: Age of Ex­tinc­tion,” which opened with $100 mil­lion over three days in 2014 — mak­ing “Knight” the first in the fran­chise not to open to $100 mil­lion or more.

The vis­ual ef­fects-heavy block­buster, never a crit­ics’ fa­vorite, played in 4,069 lo­ca­tions in the U.S. and Canada. It earned a B-plus Cin­ema Score with au­di­ence mem­bers — of which 51% were over 25 and 57% were male.

The lat­est in­stall­ment, which stars Mark Wahlberg and An­thony Hop­kins and fea­tures a new mythol­ogy in­volv­ing King Arthur and Stone­henge, cost $217 mil­lion to make. Still, how­ever squeaky its de­but may have been do­mes­ti­cally, the pic­ture took in an Op­ti­mus Prime-sized num­ber over­seas. It earned $196 mil­lion from its first 40 markets — with $123 mil­lion of that haul com­ing from China.

“In the end, it’s a movie that’s cre­ated for a global au­di­ence,” said Megan Col­li­gan, pres­i­dent of world­wide distri­bu­tion and mar­ket­ing for Para­mount Pic­tures, when asked about the fran­chise’s do­mes­tic box of­fice slow­down. “We make these movies for a global au­di­ence; it was re­ceived well by a global au­di­ence. We’re feel­ing re­ally good about it.”

Col­li­gan also dis­missed talk of fran­chise fa­tigue.

“Two trends ev­ery­body is talk­ing about,” she said, “are the re­cep­tion of se­quels and the im­pact of Rot­ten To-

ma­toes. Both have an im­pact, I think. Se­quels can work. Peo­ple care a lot about these char­ac­ters, but there’s a cyn­i­cism in the U.S. mar­ket­place about these movies, and I do think peo­ple look to ag­gre­ga­tors to de­cide if they should be giv­ing these movies a shot.”

Still, “The Last Knight’s” hulk­ing metal did help fend off its re­turn­ing ri­vals.

“Won­der Woman,” star­ring Gal Gadot, took in an ad­di­tional $25.2 mil­lion, push­ing the Warner Bros. film well past the $300-mil­lion mark in its fourth week in the­aters. On the global scale, the movie’s gross is just more than $652 mil­lion.

Mean­while, “Cars 3” fell to third place in its sec­ond week­end, gross­ing $25.2 mil­lion — down 53% from its de­but, which also marked a fran­chise low. The Dis­ney/ Pixar pic­ture is just shy of $100 mil­lion mark.

Else­where, shark flick “47 Me­ters Down” took in $7.4 mil­lion, help­ing it place fourth, while the Tu­pac Shakur biopic “All Eyez on Me” was in fifth with $5.9 mil­lion, just beat­ing the Tom Cruise-led “The Mummy,” in sixth with $5.8 mil­lion.

How­ever, the real bright spots were “The Big Sick” and “The Beguiled,” with both earn­ing the best theater av­er­ages this year.

“The Big Sick,” from Ama­zon Stu­dios and Lion­s­gate, de­buted in five the­aters and brought in $435,000.

The film, di­rected by Michael Showal­ter (“Wet Hot Amer­i­can Sum­mer”), was a fa­vorite among crit­ics when it pre­miered at the 2017 Sun­dance Film Fes­ti­val. Based on a screen­play writ­ten by “Sil­i­con Val­ley” star Ku­mail Nan­jiani and his wife, Emily V. Gor­don, about their courtship, the movie stars Nan­jiani as a slightly fic­tion­al­ized ver­sion of him­self op­po­site Zoe Kazan as Emily, a Chicago grad stu­dent. Pulling at their re­la­tion­ship are not only cul­tural dif­fer­ences but also an ill­ness that lands Emily in a med­i­cally in­duced coma.

“The Beguiled,” mean­while, de­buted in four the­aters with $240,545. Di­rected by Sofia Cop­pola, the Fo­cus Fea­tures pic­ture stars Kirsten Dunst, Ni­cole Kid­man and Colin Far­rell in the story about women who take a wounded Union sol­dier in dur­ing the Civil War.

Para­mount Pic­tures / Bay Films

“LAST KNIGHT” opened to $69 mil­lion.


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