Transformers: The Last Knight accounted for 89 percent of box office sales in its opening day in China Friday. Directed by Michael Bay, the original Transformers brought Hasbro's iconic toy line into the live-action realm in 2007, grossing $319.24 million domestically and $390.46 million overseas for a global total of $709.7 million.
And while the first Transformers sequel Revenge of the Fallen in 2009 pulled in roughly equa the amount in ticket sales domestically and internationally ($402.11 million domestically and $434.19 overseas for a global tally of $836.3 million), its follow-up Dark of the Moon in 2011 signaled a dramatic change in the disparity of ticket sales domestically versus the number sold internationally.
Pulling in more than $1.1 million globally, the film sold an astounding $771 million in ticket sales at the international box office, while pulling in $352 million domestically. Age of Extinction followed suit in 2014 with an even bigger gap, with a box office take of $858 million overseas and $245 million domestically for a worldwide cume of $1.1 billion.
At first blush, The Last Knight also looks to be a big seller at the international box office, with China leading the way. According to Variety, the film earned $41 million in its opening day Friday in China. Adding in $7 million Thursday night previews, the fifth Transformers film has already made $48 million in the country and is expected to finish with $290 million in ticket sales at the end of its theatrical run.
By contrast, China's opening day tally dwarfs the $15 million The Last Knight made domestically in its first day. And while it should be pointed out that the lower number could be attributed to the film's Wednesday opening, The Last Knight is still only projected to make a series low for the franchise (Variety estimates it will take in $60 million, while others estimate it will gross as high as $75 million) in its 5-day opening frame.
Despite the dismal projected opening for The Last Knight domestically, the massive reception overseas means the film could end up with opening weekend a global tally of anywhere from $237.5 million to $270 million. With a stunning 89 percent of tickets sold going to The Last Knight, $80 million to $100 million of those sales could come from China alone.
As the summer movie season continues to pan out, so does the trend of ticket sales largely being bolstered by overseas markets. Both flops domestically, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and The Mummy have both been saved by international ticket sales. And while The Mummy is still expected to suffer huge financial losses, if the international moviegoing trend continues, perhaps tentpole films won't need the domestic box office to succeed (as it once did) in the long run.
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