Box Office: 'Transformers 4' Hits $100 Million for $301.3 Million Worldwide Debut

Michael Bay’s 3D tentpole becomes the first film of 2014 so far to conquer the $100 million threshold in North America; overseas, it opens to $90 million in China, the biggest debut of all time. 

by Pamela McClintock

Paramount’s Transformers: Age of Extinction debuted to $100 million in North America, the best number of the year to date and reinvigorating the giant robot franchise. Overseas, it was even more massive in its initial assault, taking in $201.3 million for a worldwide bow of $301.3 million. 

The $210 million tentpole, earning an A- CinemaScore despite blistering reviews, is easily the biggest opening of star Mark Wahlberg's career, thanks to a strong turnout by males (64 percent).

Age of Extinction — featuring a new leading man in Wahlberg, who replaces the troubled Shia LaBeouf — broke records in China, earning $90 million to mark the top opening of all time for any film. The movie went to great lengths to prosper in China, including shooting at some of the country’s most iconic sights, such as the Great Wall.

The 3D film scored the top debut of the year internationally, even though it won’t roll out in most of Europe and Latin America until after the World Cup. In addition to China, the tentpole generated big returns in Russia, where it took in $21.7 million, the second biggest launch of all time, with 3D grosses representing 80 percent. And it did nearly as much in South Korea, nabbing the top opening of the year with $21.5 million.

Overall, Age of Extinction is pacing 35 percent of Transformers: Dark of the Moon in its first 37 territories.

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Michael Bay returned to direct the fourth installment, considered a reboot because of its new cast, including young stars Nicola Peltz and Jack ReynorAge of Extinction takes place four years after a devastating face-off between the Autobots and the Decepticons in Chicago in the last film Dark of the Moon, and introduces the Dinobots (i.e., dinosaur robots) for the first time.

Paramount vice chairman Rob Moore said the film ushers in a new era for the series. “Mark is incredibly likeable and together, Michael and Mark have refreshed the franchise. You definitely see the great chemistry between them,” he said.

Moore said the movie’s outstanding performance in China came out of Paramount’s close working partnership with China Film Group. “It was very educational” as China becomes more and more important, Moore said. He also noted that Age of Extinction was the first major studio movie to have its worldwide premiere in China.

Age of Extinction marks Bay’s second win of the summer after TNT drama The Last Ship, which he’s producing.

Based on the Hasbro toy line, Age of Extinction bested the $97.9 million earned by the last film in the series, Dark of the Moon, in its first weekend in 2011 (the movie, opening on Tuesday took in a total $162.6 million in its first six days). Sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen grossed $108 million in its first weekend, a franchise best, although Dark of the Moon went on to become the top-grossing title in the series ($1.12 billion).

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Age of Extinction generated big returns, or $27.3 million, for Imax theaters in North America and overseas, and $7 million for large premium format screens. China alone generated $10 million for Imax, a record.

In terms of 2014 summer tentpoles, Godzilla opened to $93.2 million, while The Amazing Spider-Man 2 earned $91.6 million and X-Men: Days of Future Past, $90.8 million. Opening weekend numbers don’t portend how well a film will hang on (Days of Future Past is the biggest earner to date of the three, with more than $710 million in global ticket sales).

Age of Extinction could have especially strong legs because it has virtually no competition for a month. To boot, it opens on the eve of the Fourth of July week.

No other movie dared go up against Age of Extinction and open nationwide this weekend.

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Among holdovers, Disney’s Maleficent and Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 both crossed the $200 million threshold. Maleficent's showing is especially impressive, considering it isn't a sequel. Disney also celebrated the fact that Captain America: The Winter Soldier passed up The Lego Movie over the weekend to become the top grossing film of the year domestically with $257.2 million.

Sony’s 22 Jump Street continues to impress, coming in No. 2 in its third weekend with $15.4 million for a domestic total of $139.8, eclipsing the entire run of 21 Jump Street ($138.4 million).

A slew of films opened at the specialty box office this weekend, including John Carney's Begin Again, starring Keira KnightleyMark RuffaloAdam Levine and Hailee Steinfeld. Distributed by The Weinstein Co., the film took in a solid $148,325 from five theaters in New York and Los Angeles for a location average of $29,665, the best of the weekend.

"It’s a great start. The film played really well, particularly among women. It’s also going to be a great date movie," said TWC distribution chief Erik Lomis, noting that females made up 67 percent of the audience.

TWC also launched French biopic Yves Saint Laurent over the weekend in two theaters. The movie took in a solid $24,502 for a location average of $12,251. And Korean film Snowpiercer, opening in 8 locations, grossed $162,127 for a location average of $20,266 for Radius-TWC.

And conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza's documentary America did nicely in its limited bow in three theaters in Houston and Altanta, grossing $39,000 for a location average of $13,000. The film, a follow up to 2016: Obama’s America, expands nationwide Wednesday.

Here are the top 10 estimates for the weekend of June 27-29 at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Friday Total, Percentage Drop, Cume

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction, 1/2,905, Paramount, $100 million.

2. 22 Jump Street, 3/3,426, Sony/MGM, $15.4 million, -44%, $139.8 million.

3. How to Train Your Dragon 2, 3/3,750, Fox/DWA, $13.1 million, -47%, $121.8 million.

4. Think Like a Man Too, 2/2,225, Sony/Screen Gems, $10.4 million, -64%, $48.2 million.

5. Maleficent, 5/3,073, Disney, $8.2 million, -36%, $201.9 million.

6. Jersey Boys, 2/2,905, Warner Bros., $7.6 million, - 43%, $27.3 million.

7. Edge of Tomorrow, 4/2,535, Warner Bros./Village Roadshow, $5.2 million, -47%, $84.2 million.

8. The Fault in Our Stars, 4/2,845, Fox, $4.8 million, -44%, $109.5 million.

9. X-Men: Days of Future Past, 6/2,014, Fox, $3.3 million, -45%, $223.4 million.

10. Chef, 8/801, Open Road Films, $1.7 million, -3%, $19.4 million.

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