Now that Transformers: The Last Knight has been playing in theaters for a few weeks, it’s time to take a snapshot of its box office performance to determine if it was a commercial success. Despite frequently being panned by critics, the Transformers franchise has been a lucrative cash cow for the last decade. Two of the previous installments, Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction, even hit the sacred $1 billion mark worldwide, proving to Paramount there was an appetite for robots in disguise on the big screen. Looking at the series’ track record, it’s easy to see why the studio was so keen on developing an expanded cinematic universe for Transformers – copying the Star Wars formula of alternating between mainline entries and spinoffs.
Before Transformers 5 reached theaters, Paramount had already set aside release dates for projects like Bumblebee, putting some added pressure on The Last Knight to replicate the figures posted by its predecessors. At the time, another round of “Bayhem” may have seemed like a sure thing, but when the numbers started rolling in, an argument can be made they weren’t exactly what executives were looking for. In a summer that’s been more noteworthy for its disappointments than hits, once sure-thing Optimus Prime was taking a bit of a hit. As many fans know, international grosses can be a saving grace, but all things considered, is The Last Knight a box office smash?
A Domestic Bomb
The warning signs were there long before The Last Knight premiered, but in the United States, audiences seem to have grown tired of what Michael Bay has in store. Back in 2014, Age of Extinction earned the lowest amount domestically with $245.4 million total – over $100 million less than the haul for Dark of the Moon. That downward trajectory continued with Transformers 5, which debuted below expectations with a $44.6 million opening weekend. As of this writing, it’s made just $119.7 million for its entire Stateside run. In comparison, Spider-Man: Homecoming brought in $117 million in its first three days in theaters.
For a stretch of time, the Transformers property was critic proof, drawing in sizable crowds amidst the terrible reviews. Revenge of the Fallen was one of the biggest films of 2009, raking in $402.1 million just in the U.S. However, the times have changed and most moviegoers opted to sit the latest sequel out. The biggest factor for The Last Knight‘s underwhelming box office is the critical response, as many pundits wrote it off as more of the same with little to recommend. With ticket prices increasing, audiences have started to become more selective about what they make the trek out to see. For some, there was little value in handing over hard-earned money to see a tentpole that isn’t worth it – especially when the acclaimed Wonder Woman was still relatively young in its run, generating positive word-of-mouth. Also, July has several high-profile offerings like Spider-Man, War for the Planet of the Apes, and Dunkirk, which all have strong buzz.
A combination of poor reviews and great competition is what did The Last Knight in domestically, and the film will certainly be the lowest-grossing entry in the Transformers franchise to date. Since it does not have any legs commercially (back-to-back 62 percent drops), it’s worth wondering if Last Knight will even crack $200 million in the States – a question many would have deemed unfathomable a few months ago. Homecoming is now the movie of the moment and Apes is on the horizon – offering casual audiences compelling and entertaining genre fare as the summer season chugs along. Transformers 5 has only been playing for a three weeks, yet has become an afterthought. The good news for Paramount is that the franchise typically does much better overseas, so all hope may not be lost just yet.
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