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‘Transformers’ Debut of $100 Million Sets 2014 High Mark

June 30 (Bloomberg) -- “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” Paramount Pictures’ 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 opening in wide release in U.S. and Canadian theaters last week, it easily outdistanced returning film “22 Jump Street,” according to an e-mailed statement today from Rentrak Corp.

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” is forecast to be the biggest movie of summer and may reach $1 billion in its global theatrical run, according to Phil Contrino, BoxOffice.com’s chief analyst, providing Paramount and exhibitors with a big lift. The picture pulled in more than $300 million worldwide in its first weekend, shattering the record in China on Imax Corp. large-format screens.

“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., 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 ended with total sales of $165.1 million. Early estimates show the new film bringing in about $90 million in China, Rentrak said.

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

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.

“Age of Extinction,” which stars Mark Wahlberg for the first time in the “Transformers” 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 $15.8 million to place second in its third weekend. “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” from DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. collected $13.2 million to place third in its third weekend. “Think Like a Man Too,” a comedy starring Kevin Hart, collected $10.3 million to place fourth for Sony in its second weekend.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films fell 5.2 percent to $171 million from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Domestic box-office sales year to date are $5.2 billion, a decrease of 0.8 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 to June 29.

                     Rev.    Pct.             Avg./   Total
Movie               (mln)    Chg. Theaters  Theater   (mln)  Wks
================================================================
1 Transformers:     $100.0   --   4,233     $23,633   $100.0  1
2 22 Jump Street      15.8  -42   3,426       4,624    140.3  3
3 Dragon 2            13.2  -46   3,750       3,530    122.0  3
4 Like A Man Too      10.3  -65   2,225       4,637     48.1  2
5 Maleficent           8.4  -35   3,073       2,726    202.0  5
6 Jersey Boys          7.7  -42   2,905       2,655     27.4  2
7 Edge Of Tomorrow     5.4  -45   2,535       2,132     84.3  4
8 Fault In Our Stars   5.1  -40   2,845       1,803    109.9  4
9 X-Men: Future Past   3.3  -46   2,014       1,649    223.4  6
10 Chef                1.7   -3     801       2,069     19.4  8

Top 10 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $171.0        $180.4      -5.2

Year-to-date Revenue

     2014          2013
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $5,197        $5,237      -0.8

Source: Rentrak Corp.

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 Ben Livesey, Rob Golum

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