Thus far, the summer movie season has been a rather underwhelming one at the North American box office. Sure, there have been plenty of films that have sailed past the $100 million mark (Godzilla, Amazing Spider-Man 2, Maleficent, 22 Jump Street) and even one past the $200 million mark (X-Men: Days of Future Past), but nothing has become a genuine runaway blockbuster hit, one that commands the box office to the tune of a $300 or even $400 million gross. It says a lot when none of the big summer event films have been able to outperform a film released at the start of April (Captain America: The Winter Soldier).
Starting tonight, that should all change as the latest entry in the popular Transformers saga Age of Extinction arrives on over 4,000 screens to begin its conquest of not only the July 4th holiday timeframe but also the 2014 summer movie season. Based on the past performance of the series and the lack of competition on the horizon, the $210 million Paramount production should have no issue conquering both hurdles.
Usually when an action franchise reaches its fourth or fifth chapter, fatigue tends to set in and the grosses begin to dip. Apparently, Michael Bay and the producers of the Transformers franchise realized this and opted to change things up a bit for the fourth feature. Gone are series regulars Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as well as the Sam Witwicky storyline that ran through the first three films. In their place are Mark Whalberg, Nicola Peltz, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and Jack Reynor. The human element of Age of Extinction now revolves around a father (Whalberg) and daughter (Peltz) from Texas.
While ticket buyers could care less about the human element of these films, some new faces and characters may help sway people back into the theater that may have been on the fence on seeing the new feature. While not a huge draw, Whalberg does have his fans and is a far more popular actor than LaBeouf is which may also help sales a bit. Throwing in fan favorites The Dinobots to the mix will be another incentive for fans to head to the multiplexes this weekend. Ticket presales for Age of Extinction have been through the roof according to Fandango. This film alone is account for 96% of this weekend’s advance ticket sales.
The July 4th holiday timeframe has been the traditional launching pad for the Transformers series. The first feature opened on July 3rd, 2007 and earned a massive $155 million in its first five days of release. 2009’s Revenge of the Fallen opened a week earlier (June 24th) but still ruled the holiday box office that year, banking $200 million by the time the holiday weekend came to a close. 2011’s Dark of the Moon dropped a bit thanks to the bad aftertaste Fallen left behind, but the opening was still a monster. The third feature, which Bay had claimed would be his last Transformers feature, landed with $168 million in its first five days after opening June 29th.
With a majority of the 4,200 screens showing the film in 3D and 353 of those theaters offering the feature in IMAX, the opening weekend grosses for Age of Extinction should be right up there with Fallen and Dark of the Moon. Competition is non-existent for Extinction not only this upcoming weekend, but for the July 4th weekend as well. The next serious competition the new Michael Bay film is facing arrives on July 11th in the form of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Until then, it is smooth sailing for Optimus Prime and Marky Mark. Reviews will once again play no part in affecting box office, as people will be in the mood for three hours of sound, fury and air conditioning. Starting at 9pm tonight, Transformers: Age of Extinction should earn $100 million this weekend and be looking at $210 million by the end of the July 4th timeframe.
Tune in on Saturday for opening day grosses for Transformers: Age of Extinction and on Sunday for weekend box office estimates.