‘Transformers’ Breaks 2014 Box Office Records On Debut

Source: Paramount Pictures via AP Photo

Characters Grimlock and Optimus Prime in "Transformers: Age of Extinction." Close

Characters Grimlock and Optimus Prime in "Transformers: Age of Extinction."

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Source: Paramount Pictures via AP Photo

Characters Grimlock and Optimus Prime in "Transformers: Age of Extinction."

“Transformers: Age of Extinction,” Paramount Pictures (VIAB)’ summer blockbuster, opened with weekend sales of $100 million to mark the biggest domestic debut of the year.

The film, the first in a new trilogy of the alien-robot franchise from Viacom Inc.’s studio, generally met estimates. It was projected to open with $99 million and $104 million, respectively, by researchers BoxOffice.com and Box Office Guru. The only movie in wide release in U.S. and Canadian theaters, it easily outdistanced returning film “22 Jump Street,” according to an e-mailed statement from Rentrak Corp. (RENT)

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” is forecast to be the biggest movie of summer, and may give a lift to the domestic box office, which has lagged behind last year in ticket sales. The film pulled in more than $300 million worldwide in its first weekend, shattering the record in China on Imax Corp. (IMAX) large-format screens. It may reach $1 billion in its global theatrical run, according to BoxOffice.com chief analyst Phil Contrino.

“For Paramount, it’s huge to have the no. 1 film,” Jeff Bock, an analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co. “Their release schedule is probably the leanest. This was important to make sure this franchise is firing on all cylinders.”

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” is one of Paramount’s most important pictures of the year, alongside “Hercules,” scheduled for next month, and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” set to open in August. The April release “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” from Walt Disney Co. (DIS), had been the biggest domestic debut of 2014, at $95 million.

China Sales

Filmed in the U.S. and China, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” had a production budget of $165 million, excluding marketing costs, according to IMDB.com. The movie may produce total domestic sales of $265 million in its theatrical run, according to BoxOffice.com. The preceding film in the series, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” opened with $97.9 million in June 2011, and grossed $352.4 million domestically, according to Box Office Mojo.

“Age of Extinction,” which opened in China at the same time as its domestic debut, may draw a significant amount of its box-office sales from Asia. “Dark of the Moon” had the second-biggest opening weekend for a U.S. film in China, pulling in $56 million, and ending with total sales of $165.1 million. Early estimates show the new film bringing in about $90 million in China, Rentrak said.

Imax Record

The almost $10 million in ticket sales to view the film on Imax screens in China more than doubled the previous record held by “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” according to Imax.

“Keeping in mind the staggering growth of the Chinese box office since then, expectations are high for this film,” Contrino said in an interview.

The new movie, which stars Mark Wahlberg for the first time in the series, also features Chinese actors as Paramount seeks to increase the appeal of the series in the country.

“Adding Mark Wahlberg to the mix is a very smart move,” Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst at Rentrak, said. “It added new blood into the franchise and new excitement.”

“Age of Extinction” will open in South America and Western Europe toward the end of soccer’s World Cup to avoid competing with the tournament for viewers.

Bay Directs

The new movie, the fourth in the series, is again directed by Michael Bay. The film picks up with the battling robots that convert into cars and trucks. Wahlberg stars as Cade Yeager, a car mechanic, who with his daughter Tessa, played by Nicola Peltz, makes a discovery that brings the Autobots, and government officials, down on them.

The film garnered only a 15 percent positive rating with critics on Rottentomatoes.com, while 69 percent of audiences liked it, according to the review aggregator.

“Two hours and 46 minutes of pulverized architecture is a lot to endure,” A.O. Scott wrote in the New York Times. One of the action sequences “reminds you what these movies are really about: a boy at play, reveling in the creative and destructive power, and the glorious uselessness, of his own imagination.”

Among returning movies, Sony Corp.’s cop comedy sequel “22 Jump Street” collected $15.4 million to place second in its third weekend. “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” from DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. (DWA) collected $13.1 million to place third in its third weekend. “Think Like a Man Too,” a comedy starring Kevin Hart, collected $10.4 million to place fourth for Sony in its second weekend.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films fell 5.9 percent to $169.7 million from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Domestic box-office sales year to date are $5.19 billion, a decrease of 0.9 percent from the same period in 2013.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for June 27, June 28 and estimates for today.

                      Rev.  Pct.             Avg./   Total
Movie                (mln)  Chg. Theaters  Theater   (mln)  Wks
===============================================================
1 Transformers      $100.0   --   4,233     $23,624   $100.0  1
2 22 Jump Street      15.4  -44   3,426       4,495    139.8  3
3 Dragon 2            13.1  -47   3,750       3,493    121.8  3
4 Think Like A Man    10.4  -64   2,225       4,674     48.2  2
5 Maleficent           8.2  -36   3,073       2,680    201.9  5
6 Jersey Boys          7.6  -43   2,905       2,620     27.3  2
7 Edge of Tomorrow     5.2  -47   2,535       2,055     84.2  4
8 Fault In Our Stars   4.8  -44   2,845       1,687    109.5  4
9 X-Men: Future Past   3.3  -46   2,014       1,639    223.4  6
10 Chef                1.7   -3     801       2,065     19.4  8

Top 10 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $169.7        $180.4       -5.9

Year-to-date Revenue

     2014          2013
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $5,191        $5,237      -0.9

To contact the reporters on this story: Anousha Sakoui in London at asakoui@bloomberg.net; Alex Barinka in New York at abarinka2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net Bruce Rule, Joe Sabo

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