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Transformers Turns Bigger Cinematic Failures Into Better Box Office

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Transformers: Age of ExtinctionPhotograph by Industrial Light & Magic/Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection

The latest reboot of Transformers, fourth in the franchise’s run, is a terrible film, according to critics. But bad reviews did nothing to slow the movie down. It stormed through theaters in its opening weekend, grabbing more revenue from domestic ticket sales—$100 million—than any film that made its debut this year. That’s on top of its coup in China, where it broke the record on Imax large-format screens, according to Bloomberg News. It’s expected to draw a big portion of total box office sales from Asia.

It was an impressive feat, and it continued a trend for Michael Bay’s long-running series, which has withstood bad reviews like a giant robot shrugging off bullets and swatting away small missiles. Just how powerful are the Transformers? We decided to figure it out by mashing up opening weekend box office revenue (adjusted for inflation) with each film’s rating on, a website that aggregates critical reviews into a single score on its “Tomatometer.” We ran the same set of calculations for nine of Hollywood’s other recent big action franchises to measure which films performed the best financially with the least amount of critical support.