‘Transformers’ Topples ‘Spider-Verse’ With $60 Million Debut After Heated Box Office Battle

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Spider-Man put up a good fight, but the Autobots came out on top.

After an unusually close box office battle, Paramount’s “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” pulled ahead of “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” debuting in first place to $60.5 million from 3,678 theaters. Sony’s animated “Spider-Verse” sequel still managed a mighty second weekend, landing in second place with $55.4 million from 4,332 theaters.

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Thanks to the better-than-expected turnouts for those films, box office returns from the first few weeks of summer (May 1 to June 11) are up 5% from 2022, according to Comscore. Analysts hope that popcorn season is able to stay strong as blockbuster-hopefuls like “The Flash” and Pixar’s “Elemental” join the fray in the coming days.

Initial ticket sales for “Rise of the Beasts,” which is the seventh installment in the live-action “Transformers” franchise, were notably better than the prior two entries, 2018’s “Bumblebee” ($21.6 million) and 2017’s “The Last Knight” ($44.68 million). It’s an encouraging sign that Paramount’s 16-year-old action series isn’t yet running on fumes. That’s been a concern because the more recent chapters produced diminishing returns after softer starts. Reviews for “Rise of the Beasts” were mixed, but audiences embraced the film with an “A-” CinemaScore.

“The jump above the previous film’s opening is excellent,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research. “Episodes six and seven are where action series either find new creative energy and extend their run (‘Mission: Impossible,’ ‘Fast & Furious,’ ‘Planet of the Apes’) or start winding down (‘Terminator,’ ‘Predator’). Only James Bond lives forever.”

But the tentpole, directed by Steven Caple Jr. and starring Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, cost $200 million. It’ll need to resonate at the international box office to justify that hefty price tag. Prior “Transformers” films have earned as much as 70% of overall box office returns outside of the U.S. and Canada. Overseas, “Rise of the Beasts” ignited to $110 million from 68 markets, boosting its global total to $170.5 million.

Even in second place, there’s still plenty to celebrate for “Spider-Verse,” which is already a huge theatrical winner with $226 million domestically and $390 million globally after 10 days in theaters. Over the weekend, the superhero follow-up surpassed the entire domestic and global tallies of its predecessor, 2018’s Oscar-winning “Into the Spider-Verse,” which ended its box office run with $190 million in North America and $384 million worldwide. It now stands as Sony’s highest-grossing animated release in history.

Elsewhere at the box office, three holdovers from Disney rounded out the top of North American charts. In third place, “The Little Mermaid” added $22.8 million from 4,320 theaters, declining 46% from the weekend prior. After three weeks of release, the live-action remake is swimming along with $228 million at the domestic box office. But the big-budget film has been struggling at the international box office, where ticket sales have been floundering with $185 million. (Yes, that’s considered “floundering” for a movie that cost $250 million.) At one point, there was hope “The Little Mermaid” would near the $1 billion mark; after a disappointing turnout overseas, it’ll be lucky to hit $500 million.

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” took the No. 4 spot with $7 million from 3,175 venues in its sixth weekend on the big screen. So far, the comic book adventure has grossed $335 million in North America and $805 million worldwide, which is above the original 2014 “Guardians of the Galaxy” ($333 million domestically, $773 million worldwide) but below the 2017 sequel ($389 million domestically, $863 million worldwide).

In fifth place, “The Boogeyman” added $6.9 million from 3,205 theaters, marking a 46% decline from its debut. The movie, adapted from Stephen King’s short story of the same name, has generated $24.7 million domestically and $39.6 million globally to date.

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