LITTLE HEFT TO ALL THAT METAL
No. 1 ‘Transformers’ hits a low in its U.S. debut but is saved by global box office.
“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.
“LAST KNIGHT” opened to $69 million.