Box Office: 'Transformers' Controversy Erupts After Paramount Claims $100M 3-Day Gross

Yahoo Movies

By Anita Busch


LATEST UPDATE, MONDAY, 9:43 AM:  The first big box-office controversy in the sixth months since I’ve been reporting erupted this morning as Paramount Pictures put the final three-day domestic total of Transformers: Age of Extinction at $100.038 million in its opening weekend. “They’re lying,” said one distribution head at a major studio. Said another, “I don’t get get it. Is it just arrogance? What is the point of inflating your box-office numbers? So they can claim the first $100M movie opening of the year? Oh please, who cares? It’s a great opening anyway.”

One insider at Paramount with knowledge of the financials told Deadline that there has been concerns that there could be more layoffs if the fourth installment of the Transformers series didn’t hit the $100M mark. So maybe that’s what’s going on. Even so, everyone in town — and I mean everyone — has it much less than $100M. Hey, as one my colleagues just said, the movie itself is inflated to 2:45 minutes, so why not the box office grosses, too?

One distribution executive put it this way, “Looking at Rentrak, at this time, the average for the three-days is $22.964M, representing a total gross for three days of $97.76M. Rentrak collected 97 percent of the grosses for the three days. In my humble opinion, it would be impossible for $100M to be reported.”

However, despite all other industry estimates that had the opening of Transformers anywhere from $97.5 million to $98 million-plus, Paramount is defying the general reporting and stated that they have reached $100.038M. The last time I saw this happen was many years ago, and the studio that did it — Fox with 2002's  Minority Report  — was also called out by others in the industry for fudging numbers. 

Another distribution head at a major studio asked, “What are they doing?” and just laughed at the ridiculousness of it all.

“I don’t care what they report, if they want to lie, go ahead. I’d like to lie and say we did better than numbers than we did, but I can’t,” said another distribution head. “What they’ll probably do is shave a couple of million off the mid-week number and then pad it out. I do think it’s a little crazy that they are stretching like this.” What that means is that Paramount would under-report grosses a little bit each morning during the mid-week to make up the differences so they have an accurate and correct number down the road. The $100.038M gross will affect the following weekend’s three-day percentage drop also because it will be set against that figure (assuming they report accurately next weekend).

“There was a time you could do this,” said one distribution head at another major studio. “But today, Rentrak is so good and so sophisticated that they picked up everything but about 100 theaters and what they don’t pick up is the little guys. If you take the per-screen-average and multiply it by the number, it comes to a little over $97M. They are saying that the missing factor on those theaters were three times the national average. It’s not real.”

“I don’t know what they are doing. There is no way they could reach that number looking at the numbers I have sitting in front of me,” said another distribution head at another public company. And there in lies the rub. These are public companies and under SEC guidelines regulating disclosure requirements for publicly-held companies, Paramount must put forth true and accurate numbers to the public and its shareholders.

What does Paramount Pictures say to all this conundrum? “We reported our number based on the estimates we received from the theaters this morning. This is our final number,” said a Paramount spokeswoman. $100.038M? “Yes.”

9th UPDATE, MONDAY, 8:30  AM: Despite other reports, Paramount is sticking with its $100M number and that is what it reported this morning: $100.038M

8th UPDATE, MONDAY, 7:30AM: By all accounts (have not yet heard from Paramount) Transformers: Age of Extinction fell short of the $100M mark and we were right to question it; $97.5M for the three-day weekend looks like the better bet. Still a good number, but that means that not one picture in the first six months of 2014 has crossed the $100M mark. T:AoE  remains, however, the biggest opening weekend of the year to date.  When will the industry see its first $100M weekend?

7th UPDATE, SUNDAY, 7:32 AM: It appears that Transformers: Age of Extinction ended up with a $31.8M to $32M Saturday which, depending on the percentage decline on Sunday could have it sitting just under $100M. In other words, if it falls only 15% Sunday, it will be $100M and change. However, if it falls more than 15% Sunday, it will not reach that $100M threshold and fall below in the $98M to $99M range. It’s all about the math … er, and the movie going. Paramount, of course, is going with the $100M. They think it will only fall 15% on Sunday. We’ll see. These are public companies so today they can estimate, but the real number must be reported after it plays out today. I, and many others, expect it to be under $100M. Calendar year-to-date at the box office, the industry is still flat with a .9% decrease from this same time last year.

Regardless of the psychology of $100M vs. $99M (or even $98M+) — and of course, the headline across the country is better with $100M estimate in it — it’s a great opening for this film, which is also crushing it overseas in China and other international territories. Its per-screen average is around $23,700K on around 10,000 screens at 4,233 locales. It is the highest opening weekend of the summer and of 2014, both here and abroad and it may break the $300M worldwide after today. In fact, we believe it is the only time in history that a film has opened to $90M+ in the world’s two biggest territories, the U.S. For more about how it’s doing overseas, stay tuned for my colleague Nancy Tartaglione’s international story (refresh for the latest here). Domestically, IMAX played a strong role as well, bringing in a total of $10.7M on 353 screens, marking the second-best June opening only behind Man of Steel’s $13.5M.


All eyes now are on what is expected to be great playability during the July 4th holiday and a continuation of strong openings in overseas territories, including all of Europe and Brazil. “We’re really happy with the film’s performance, and with the July 4th holiday coming next week, it feels like it’s in great shape to continue its success,” said Megan Colligan, Paramount’s president of domestic marketing and distribution. “The filmmakers really pushed it and got this done and what (director) Michael (Bay) accomplished with not only the production — by finishing up a very complicated movie — but being able to balance that with participating in a huge, worldwide marketing campaign and all the things that go into that. It was unprecedented for me to watch someone to do all of that at one time.”

Congrats to all at Paramount, its marketing department guided by Josh Greenstein, its distribution team led by Don Harris, international team headed by Anthony Marcoly and the filmmakers — director Bay, producers Ian Bryce, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Don Murphy, who really deserves the credit, as it was his brainchild many years ago to take a Hasbro toy and make a really cool movie out of it. Well done to all, especially to whomever decided not to screen the movie to the critics until the very end ,as that quashed any bad word-of-mouth getting out ahead of the film.

There is, of course, lots of other juicy box office news:
In their second weekends in release, Screen Gems’ Think Like a Man Too is going to end up falling 64% for an estimated $10.6M weekend, which was not unexpected for this Kevin Hart-starring comedy. And, Jersey Boys, Clint Eastwood‘s realization of the smash Broadway musical biopic, is holding well, with only a 43% decline from the weekend earlier. It’s really the only wide-release, grown-up movie out there right now — well, that along with Jon Favreau‘s Chef (OPRD), which is enjoying its sixth week in the Top Ten after its expansion.

This weekend is also seeing another two films join the $200M club with Disney’s Maleficent and Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 breaking that barrier to join another summer offering – X-Men: Days of Future Past and two earlier released films, The Lego Movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier — which was the previous biggest opening weekend of the year with $95M+ and just passed The Lego Movie to be 2014′s top grosser so far. Warner Bros./Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla remains the only $90M opener that has yet to get over $200M; it sits right at $197M right now. If it doesn’t squeeze out another $3M, it will go down in the record books as the only $90M opener never to cross that $200M threshold.  It made roughly $1M (or a little under) in 750 theaters this weekend. As everyone knows, the property is involved in a fairly contentious legal battle between producers.

Gotta step back now and give kudos to Disney for a moment. Maleficent is now at $586M globally, which gives them bragging rights for having two of the top worldwide grossers to date. The other being, of course, Winter Soldier — again, let me reiterate, also the top domestic grosser of 2014 to date (with $257.2M). X-Men and Spidey are the other top worldwide grossers. Hmmm, so Maleficent is the only original, non-franchise pic. That’s a Joe Roth pic — Roth, who revealed last month at the Produced By conference that Disney forgot to invite him to the movie’s press junket. Oops!

Sony/MGM’s 22 Jump Street was No. 2 and is well past the first installment’s lifetime gross; How to Train Your Dragon 2, the DreamWorks Animation family film whose opening once again scared off Wall Street three weeks ago, is still playing well in third place. Its cume is now around $121.7M and it has a few more weekends yet to play before Disney’s animated Planes: Fire & Rescue bows on July 15th. It also has the advantage of being the only animated film out there right now. Here’s the chart:

1). Transformers: Age of Extinction (PAR), 4,233 theaters / $41.2M Fri. / $31.8M to $32M Sat. (-23%) / $26M to $27.2M (-15% to 20%) / 3-day est. cume: $98M to $100M / Wk 1

2). 22 Jump Street (SONY), 3,426 theaters (+120) / $5M Fri. /$6.1M Sat. (+20%) / $4.1M to $4. 5M Sun. (-25%) / 3-day cume: $15.7M (-43%) / Total est. cume: $139.8M to $140.2M / Wk 3

3). How to Train Your Dragon 2 (FOX), 3,750 theaters (-518) / $4.1M Fri. / $5.1M Sat. (+25%) / $3.8M Sun. (-25%) / 3-day cume: $12.8 to $13.1M (-47%) / Total cume: $121.7M / Wk 3

4). Think Like A Man Too (SONY), 2,225 theaters (0) / $3.38M Fri. / $4.2M Sat. (+26%) / $2.8M (-30%) / 3-day cume: $10.4M (-64%) / Total cume: $48.1M / Wk 2

5). Maleficent (DIS), 3,073 theaters (-377) / $2.59M Fri. / $3.3M Sat. (+27%) / $2.4M (-25%) / 3-day cume: $8.25M (-36%) / Total expected cume: $201.87M / Wk 5

6). Jersey Boys (WB) 2,905 theaters (0) / $2.25M Fri. / $3.15M Sat. (+40%) / $2.19M Sun. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $7.58M (-43%) / Total cume: $26.7M to $27.3M / Wk 2

7). Edge of Tomorrow (WB), 2,535 theaters (-677) / $1.5M Fri. / $2.17M Sat. (+40%) / $1.5M Sun. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $5.2M (-47%) / Total cume: $84.15M+ / Wk 4

8). The Fault In Our Stars (FOX), 2,845 theaters (-495) / $1.84M Fri. / $1.7M Sat. (-7%) / $1.28M Sun. (-25%) / 3-day cume: $4.8M (-44%) / Total cume: $109.55M / Wk 4

9). X-Men: Days of Future Past (FOX), 2,014 theaters (-667) / $948K Fri. / $1.3M Sat. (+40%) / $927K Sun. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $3.2M (-48%) / Total cume: $223.3M / Wk 6

10). Chef (OPRD), 801 theaters (-160) / $435K Fri. / $717K Sat. (+63%) / $502K Sun. (-30%) / 3-day cume: $1.6M (-5%) / Total cume: $19.4M / Wk 8

6th UPDATE, SATURDAY, 10:38 PM:  Saturday is down anywhere between 20% and 24% from Friday, which is a bigger than expected drop and puts Transformers: Age of Extinction back to right around $100M or a little under. Either way, Transformers will be the biggest opening of 2014 to date. Saturday is now expected to be around a $31.8M to $33M haul, which places it around $98.6M to $100M+ at the moment. Just finished figuring out the math with different percentages drops on Sunday, and that is the range as it looks like tonight. The opening will beat Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘s $95M earlier this year.

Disney’s Maleficent continues to play in the Top Five and is joining Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in crossing $200M this weekend, casting a $3.3M spell from Friday to Sunday. That’s five movies so far this year that have passed the $200M domestic mark — three this summer (with X-Men: Days of Future Past). The other two are The Lego Movie which debuted in February and Captain America: The Winter Soldier which came out during Spring Break in April. Godzilla opened to over $90M this year but has yet to cross the $200M mark. After this weekend, it’ll be sitting at almost $197M. Thinking that Warner Bros. will do all it can to drag the lizard over the finish line, but it’ll be really close.

In the No. 2 spot is Sony’s 22 Jump Street which is on track for a $6M Saturday and a $15M three-day gross to push its cume to $139.4M — which is already past the lifetime gross of the first installment. No. 3 is Fox/DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon 2 with a $5.1M Saturday estimate. The animated family pic will bring in another $12.7M  in its third weekend of release for a total cume of $121.4M.

Screen Gems’ Think Like A Man Too — in its second weekend out — is dropping like a rock. It’s going to be off about 65% and take in only $4.2M this weekend. The other holdover from last weekend — Warner Bros.’ Jersey Boys — is at No. 6 and is still on target to bring in around $7.5M for a 41% decline from last weekend when it debuted. That is actually a fairly decent hold, but the picture opened so soft that I’m not sure it even matters. Its total gross after this weekend will be around $27M.

Chef, which Open Road has been handling,  is enjoying its sixth week in the Top Ten after a platform release. More to come in the AM. Night all.

5th UPDATE, SATURDAY, 6:13 PM: Saturday has played out well so far for this weekend’s big opener, Paramount’s Transformers: Age of Extinction and it is holding on very strongly going into evening and late night showings. The thinking now is that the Michael Bay-directed franchise could gross anywhere between $103M to $105M for the three-day which would put it right between the grosses of the last two Transformer installments’ Friday to Sunday grosses. But that would not be an apples-to-apples comparison as they both opened on Wednesdays and had two more days of play. What a great win for the filmmakers, the studio and its top-notch marketing and distribution teams opened this lengthy, 2:45-minute film.  By the way, nice to give out kudos when it’s due. Just wanted to note that this is Chef‘s sixth week in the Top Ten for filmmaker Jon Favreau and its distrib. Open Road Films, which has done a heck of job with this little film. More later as late night numbers roll in.

4th UPDATE, Saturday 7:00 AM: A $41.3M Friday (which includes the $8.75 late nights) estimate means that Transformers: Age of Extinction is headed not only to but past the $100M mark right now which gives Paramount the opening that it and everyone else had been hoping for … now comes the Saturday crowd, but all bets are on that it will make anywhere from $100M to $103M+ for the three-day weekend. That would make it the biggest opening of 2o14, surpassing Captain America: The Winter Soldier which brought in $95M during April’s Spring Break and also the biggest opening of the summer. Welcome news to the industry which was waiting for a summer hit and looking for Transformers to be the one to pass $100M. The per screen average for this monster at the end of the three day (which is on around 10,000 screens) would be $24,300. The momentum is on its side for Saturday moviegoing and with an A- CinemaScore, fans are thumbing their noses at the critics who just ravaged the fourth installment of the Michael Bay-directed franchise.

Distrib Paramount just weighed in, saying it expects a $100M opening; it also shined a light on the demo make-up for the film, showing that its playing best with males and the 25+ age group. The breakdown is 64% male/36% female with 58% 25 and older. It also is doing gangbusters in China and given that it’s on a record-number of IMAX screens in China (with about 150), we’re not surprised; in South Korea not so much. For a full international report, see my colleague Nancy Tartaglione’s story here.

22 Jump Street had more muscle than expected last night for Columbia/MGM’s R-rated comedy, tallying around $5M to take the No. 2 spot. That means it will make around $139.4M through the weekend — to surpass 21 Jump Street‘s lifetime gross of $138.4M. 21 opened in 2012. The sophomore frames of Screen Gems’ Think Like a Man, Too and the Warner Bros./Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys came in as expected (see last night’s reporting). Here’s the chart with estimates for today:

1). Transformers: Age of Extinction (PAR), 4,233 theaters / $41.3M Fri. / $34.3M Sat. (-17%) / 3-day est. cume: $103M+ / Wk 1

2). 22 Jump Street (SONY), 3,426 theaters (+120) / $5M Fri. /$5.8M Sat. (+15%) / 3-day cume: $15.2M (-44%) / Total est. cume: $139.4M / Wk 3

3). How to Train Your Dragon 2 (FOX), 3,750 theaters (-518) / $4.1M Fri. / $5.5M Sat. (+35%) / 3-day cume: $13M+ (-45%) / Total cume: $121.8M to $122.5M / Wk 3

4). Think Like A Man Too (SONY), 2,225 theaters (0) / $3.38M Fri. / $4.5M Sat. (+35%) / 3-day cume: $10.5M to $11M+ (-62%) / Total cume: $48.1M to $48.5M / Wk 2

5). Maleficent (DIS), 3,073 theaters (-377) / $2.59M Fri. / $3.35M Sat. (+30%) / 3-day cume: $8.4M (-35%) / Total expected cume: $201.9M to $202M+ / Wk 5

6). Jersey Boys (WB) 2,905 theaters (0) / $2.25M Fri. / $3.2M Sat. (+40%) / 3-day cume: $7.1M to $7.5M (-43%) / Total cume: $26.7M to $27.3M / Wk 2

7). Edge of Tomorrow (WB), 2,535 theaters (-677) / $1.5M Fri. / $2.1M Sat. (+40%) / 3-day cume: $5.15M (-47%) / Total cume: $84M+ / Wk 4

8). The Fault In Our Stars (FOX), 2,845 theaters (-495) / $1.84M Fri. / $1.9M Sat. (+5%) / 3-day cume: $5.2M (-39%) / Total cume: $109.8M / Wk 4

9). X-Men: Days of Future Past (FOX), 2,014 theaters (-667) / $948K Fri. / $1.3M Sat. (+40%) / 3-day cume: $3.2M (-48%) / Total cume: $223.2M / Wk 6

10). Chef (OPRD), 801 theaters (-160) / $435K Fri. / $685K Sat. (+60%) / 3-day cume: $1.58M (-8%) / Total cume: $19.3M / Wk 8

NOTEWORTHY: Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is expected to just cross $200M this weekend after nine weeks in release pushing its worldwide cume to around $704M now. Will Warner Bros. being able to drag Legendary Pic’s Big Lizard across $200M? Godzilla will have a total cume of $196.9M after pulling in another $800K this weekend. Meanwhile, TriStar’s Heaven is For Real profitable pic from filmmaker Randall Wallace will pass $90M. Well done, Mr. Wallace.

3rd UPDATE, Friday, 10:35 PM: Transformers: Age of Extinction gained strength as it rolled out today into 4,233 theaters and on around 10,000 screens. It is now estimated to have a $40M Friday on track for around a $100M weekend (could be a little under or a little over depending on Saturday). That’s much better news than how it looked earlier in the day. If those numbers hold, the Michael Bay-directed franchise, which is being led by social media powerhouse Mark Wahlberg this time around, would be welcome news for distrib Paramount and the filmmakers and would garner the biggest opening of 2014. It got an A- CinemaScore tonight, despite the bad reviews. The budget — accounting for about $29M+ in production benefits from shooting in Michigan — ended up around $180M net cost with another $143M+ for marketing ww); In addition, director Michael Bay is getting 10% FDG and others like Wahlberg, Steven Spielberg and Lorenzo di Bonaventura getting participations as well. Hasbro is also said to be getting 5%. There’s one producer not mentioned in that list, however, I need to single out.

Producer Don Murphy. Years ago, Murphy and I met for dinner, and after we settled into a booth, he said he wanted to run an idea past me as I knew a lot about licensing and merchandising. (Now, I can’t remember if this was before or after he told me he thought a remake of The Planet of the Apes would be cool and was having meeting about that at Fox). He said he thought a movie based on the Hasbro toy Transformers would make a really cool film, and a possible studio tentpole. He then went on to talk about story ideas for the toys that transform: These monsters would rise up larger than life and wage war against each other while humans tried to get out of their way. As he spoke, it was obvious how passionate he was about the idea and said he was going to try to get the film rights from Hasbro. The prescient producer. Congrats Mr. Murphy wherever you are.

Ah, but I digress, back to the box office numbers:  Disney’s Maleficent is expected to pass $200M in what will be its fifth week of release. And Sony finally dragged The Amazing Spider-Man 2 across that same threshold kicking and screaming in 9 weeks of release. Now, for the holdovers: The second weekend of Sony’s Think Like A Man Too which was last weekend’s No. 1, has gone limp with an expected 63% decline. Not at all surprising. However, Jersey Boys is only going to be off 43% after an okay mid-week performance, giving older audiences something to watch besides explosions and carnage. The Dragon with strong legs flies in with a solid No. 3 after playing very well during the week. 22 Jump Street added theaters and that was a smart move to keep it holding better against the monster opening. Here’s how the Top Ten look tonight. Numbers are likely to change in the morning:

1). Transformers: Age of Extinction (PAR), 4,233 theaters / $40.5M Fri. / 3-day est. cume: $100M+ / Wk 1

2). 22 Jump Street (SONY), 3,426 theaters (+120) / $4.85M Fri. / 3-day cume: $14.8M (-47%) / Total est. cume: $139M+ / Wk 3

3). How to Train Your Dragon 2 (FOX), 3,750 theaters (-518) / $4.1M Fri. / 3-day cume: $13.8M to $14M (-45%) / Total cume: $122M / Wk 3

4). Think Like A Man Too (SONY), 2,225 theaters (0) / $3.35M Fri. / 3-day cume: $10.5M (-63%) / Total cume: $48M+ / Wk 2

5). Maleficent (DIS), 3,073 theaters (-377) / $2.55M Fri. / 3-day cume: $8.5M+ (-33%) / Total expected cume: $202M / Wk 5

6). Jersey Boys (WB) 2,905 theaters (0) / $2.2M Fri. / 3-day cume: $7.5M (-43%) / Total cume: $27.3M / Wk 2

7). The Fault In Our Stars (FOX), 2,845 theaters (-495) / $1.8M Fri. / 3-day cume: $5M to $5.5M (-35%) / Total cume: $109.8M / Wk 4

8). Edge of Tomorrow (WB), 2,535 theaters (-677) / $1.5M Fri. / 3-day cume: $4M+ (-47%) / Total cume: $84M / Wk 4

9). X-Men: Days of Future Past (FOX), 2,014 theaters (-667) / $950K Fri. / 3-day cume: $3M (-46%) / Total cume: $223M+ / Wk 6

10). Chef (OPRD), 801 theaters (-160) / $445K Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.5M (-10%) / Total cume: $19.3M / Wk 8

NOTEWORTHY: Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is expected to cross $200M this weekend after nine weeks in release.

2nd UPDATE, Friday, 5:50 PM: With matinee grosses coming in on the West Coast and evening shows underway on the East Coast, it looks now like a $38M to $40M Friday for Paramount Pictures’ Transformers: Age of Extinction which puts it on a three-day trajectory of anywhere right now between $95M and as high as $98M to $100M+, depending on how it performs tonight and what kind of Friday to Saturday bump it enjoys. Ah, but the night is young. More to come as the evening and late night crowd comes in and the grosses are more apparent.

1st UPDATE Friday, 12:36 PM: As it stands now, Transformers: Age Of Extinction is looking like a $36M today on track for a $93M to $95M for the three-day gross. As it is still early in the run, we must see tonight how the rest of the day looks and also whether there will be a significant Friday to Saturday bump. For the moment, Transformers is just under Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier which opened to $95M for the three-day after a $37M Friday (during Spring Break, mind you).  So it’ll be one of the biggest openings of the year, the question is where it will fall.  It’s likely to wedge right near the last two Transformers, less than the last two installments did: $97.8M Dark Of The Moon grossed in its three-day and behind the $108M that Revenge Of The Fallen did in 2009. Captain America had the biggest opening so far this year. Quick snapshot on the other two in their sophomore frames … Jersey Boys is currently down around 77% and Think Like A Man Too down about 89%.

PREVIOUSLY: Friday, 9:18 AM : Transformers: Age Of Extinction heads into the weekend with $8.75M in late-night showings starting at 9 PM on 2,990 screens. Today it opens at over 4,200 locations and on 10,000 screens with a lengthy 2 hour, 45 minute running time. That means, right now, the film is on track for a mid-$90M opening and it would be a surprise if it cracks $100M. If any picture could have opened to $100M, all bets were on this one. If this movie doesn’t break $100M,  it could take until November before we see a $100M weekend when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I opens from Lionsgate. Summer bummer.

So, how does Transformers’ late-night performance compare to other big titles? Right in the middle of the bunch. Take a look:

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – an 8 PM late-night start grossed $10.2M; the three-day weekend cume was $95M.
Godzilla – at 7 PM with $9.3M; three-day of $93.1M.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – at 7 PM with $8.7M; three-day of $91.6M.
X-Men: Days Of Future Past – at 10 PM with $8.1M; three-day of $90.8M.

Related: Box Office Preview – Will Transformers Get Summer Box Office Out Of Its Funk?

By the way,  Fox may just end up with the highest cume for a summer movie with X-Men ending up somewhere around $235M-$238M domestically in its run. So the Wolverine could end up slashing the lizard and the spider. (Captain America opened in early April).

The good news is that Transformers will continue to crush everything in sight this weekend. And, in fact, unfortunately for the others, other studios are already feeling its wrath. Mid-week grossers have been strongest for How To Train Your Dragon 2, followed by 22 Jump Street and Maleficent, with Think Like A Man Too in the top five mix as well. But last night, Transformers took the air out of every picture. As it should, actually.

The Michael-Bay directed film stars a new cast of Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, and Chinese actress Li Bingbing (smart for the Chinese market, where it is playing on the largest number ever of IMAX screens with 148). It also has the distinction of being the most socially shared movie of the year as Paramount has bombarded the social media universe with a growing list of materials and fans which have delivered by reposting at an earned/owned/ratio of 18 to 1, according to Marc Karzen, CEO of RelishMix, which measures social engagement of the new Big Three networks — YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The official teaser trailer has banked over 18 million views.

The week-long social activity popped on Paramount international YouTube channels with the world premier in Hong Kong earlier this week. Gamer YouTuber channels and cross-over game videos were a big part of the mix with cross-over impressions on IGN, Gameteep and others. The Transformers franchise Facebook page with 31 million fans popped last week as the band Imagine Dragons performed at the world premiere in Hong Kong. But the social activity really began four months ago during the Super Bowl, when a well-spent 30-second spot was the trigger that launched social activity, according to RelishMix.

Add to that, the fact that Wahlberg is one of the leading social stars today, and you have the right marketing mix on social. More to come as Transformers begins its three-day run.

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