‘Transformers’ Movie Fails to Help Box Office Shake Off Doldrums

“Transformers: The Last Knight” came out on top in a tepid weekend at the box office, recording the lowest opening in the decade-long history of the Paramount Pictures science-fiction franchise.

The feature, Michael Bay’s last as director for the series, collected an estimated $45.3 million in theaters in the U.S. and Canada, ComScore Inc. said in an emailed statement Sunday. That about equaled a $46 million forecast from analysts at BoxOfficePro.com. It was the only new wide release of the weekend.

Even with little fresh competition, “The Last Knight” became yet another casualty of a tough summer season at theaters. Executives at Viacom Inc.’s film unit, working to turn around losses from previous years and a string of box-office disappointments, had been hoping for a stronger showing to provide momentum for new installments already in the works. A prequel based on the character Bumblebee is due next year. The film is expected to perform better in overseas markets like China.

Paramount has already suffered flops at the box office this year with “Ghost in the Shell” and “Baywatch.” The studio, like other distributors, needs a solid crop of franchises that can reliably deliver the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to support its business. But North American moviegoers have shown less enthusiasm for this summer’s crop of big-budget movies, many of which have had poor reviews. Through June 19, summer box-office sales were down 3.9 percent compared with the same period last year, according to ComScore.

With some of its action set in medieval times, “The Last Knight” has the Autobots once again fighting for the future of planet Earth. This time they need to find an amulet that turns up in the hands of mechanic Cade Yeager, played by Mark Wahlberg. Yeager remains one of the few humans willing to join the Autobots in their battle with the Decepticons.

The film cost $217 million, not including marketing expenses, according to the studio. Despite state-of-the-art special effects, only 16 percent of critics gave positive reviews, with many saying the plot was thin, according to RottenTomatoes.com.

Including its early showings Wednesday and Thursday, “The Last Knight” pulled in $69.1 million through Sunday, according to ComScore. Paramount had been forecasting a $70 million haul for the five days.

Walt Disney Co.’s “Cars 3” and Warner Bros.’s “Wonder Woman” tied for second place with $25.2 million each, ComScore said. The Disney animated film had been expected to generate $29 million, according to BoxOfficePro.com. “Wonder Woman” was projected to earn $26 million by Box Office Guru. The superhero movie, by director Patty Jenkins, has brought in more than $650 million worldwide for the biggest box-office tally ever for a live-action film helmed by a woman, surpassing previous record-holder “Mamma Mia!”

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