So I thought it'd be best to have a general topic outside the discussion of the films themselves for speculation and news about how Transformers movies are doing financially, and what that could mean for future installments. You know, so people who actually want to focus on the plot and stuff don't get sidetracked by it. That said if the mods think it belongs in one of the two TF5 threads, feel free to shunt it in.
So first of is this from Forbes on the 25th:
'Transformers 5' Is One Of The Worst-Performing Sequels In Modern Hollywood History
Movie industry analysts have taken to calling Transformers: The Last Knight the worst performer of the entire 5-movie Transformers franchise.
They are being far too kind.
Yes, it’s true that The Last Knight has vastly underperformed relative to the previous four Transformers installments. But why stop the comparison there? That’s like saying that Donald Trump is the worst president of the past six months. There is so much history to consider, so many comparisons to be made. Let’s call the thing what it is: one of the poorest performing sequels in the modern history of big-budget Hollywood movies. It has earned its place on the Mount Rushmore of movie mediocrity.
By 'poorest performing,' what I mean is that the opening weekend--or in this case, 5-day opening--of Last Knight dropped off by a larger percentage from its franchise predecessor than any other sequel I've been able to find with the exception of Alice Through the Looking Glass, which fell by a staggering 73% last year compared to Alice in Wonderland. Last Knight has unfortunately become one of the very worst performing sequels in history.
How can I make such a grand assertion as that? Well I’ve combed through hundreds of sequels from the past four decades, scanned the various box office websites, and conducted hours and hours of analysis in the attempt to find film sequels that had domestic opening 5-day box office totals that were worse, relative to their franchise predecessor, than Transformers: The Last Knight. It seems that only the Alice sequel exceeded the 56% drop that Last Knight suffered compared to Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Dark of the Moon had a $157.1 million 5-day opening, compared to The Last Knight’s projected $69 million 5-day debut.
Now if you’ve been paying close attention you might protest that Dark of the Moon was not the immediate predecessor to The Last Knight, it was Transformers: Age of Extinction (by the way, how’s that for a prescient title?) that preceded the current Transformers release. To which I would reply yes, correct, but Age of Extinction had a traditional 3-day weekend opening with its start on Friday, not the 5-day, Wednesday opener that Last Knight had. I'm comparing apples-to-apples here, so for purposes of comparison I went with the previous 5-day opener in the Transformers series, Age of Extinction.
Even if we bend the rules and compare Last Knight's Wednesday through Sunday with Age of Extinction's Friday through Tuesday debut, we still get a terrible drop of 43%.
To be clear, Transformers 5 is not only about its domestic numbers: the overseas market is actually far more important to the film's success, and so far it's performing better internationally than it is at home. But it will take a stellar overseas run for the film to make up for its shoddy North American start, and it's not at all certain that foreign will fill the vacuum. In China, for instance, The Last Knight has opened well relative to other films, but not relative to the expectations that had been set for its own performance. Given the growth of the Chinese market over the past several years, Last Knight ought to have out-grossed Age of Extinction by at least 50% for a $480 million PRC total, but it looks now like it will probably underperform its predecessor by around 10%, with a $275 million China tally at best. That's an enormous gap that will seriously harm the franchise's future prospects.
It's conventional wisdom in Hollywood that as a franchise ages, the sequels tend to drop off from their predecessors, and that's often true. But it's far from a hard rule. Some franchises go through ups and downs, such as the X-Men series, which fell off 27% from the second film (The Last Stand) to the third (Wolverine), and 31% more from the third to the fourth (First Class), only to jump by 81% for the debut of the next sequel, Days of Future Past. Others, like the Twilight films, remain remarkably steady, with a 4% drop from the first to the second entry, and then a 1% increase for the third film and 2.5% for the fourth. Interestingly, among the scores of sequels I examined, the median delta was actually a 1.5% increase from one franchise film to the next.
I also spotted a few massive gainers, a phenomenon that typically, but not always, happens between the first film in a franchise and the second. The first Pirates of the Caribbean sequel, Dead Man's Chest, gained a whopping 140% on its predecessor, and The Dark Knight did even better, increasing 180% over Batman Begins.
I expect there may be an even worse performing sequel than Alice Through the Looking Glass and The Last Knight out there in history, but prior to around 1980 the data on movie opening weekends tends to get pretty sparse. The Exorcist II may well be a contender for the title of worst ever, but I haven't been able to find enough box office information on the first Exorcist film to make a proper comparison. Others come close, like Evan Almighty, which plummeted 48% from Bruce Almighty back in 2007.
The investors, filmmakers, and distributors of Transformers: The Last Knight are undoubtedly feeling shell-shocked at the moment, but they can take solace in the truth that it's possible for a franchise to come back from seemingly certain death. It may surprise you that the biggest turnaround I've found occurred with one of the biggest franchises Hollywood has ever seen. Back in 2006 it looked like the Fast and Furious franchise was finished after Tokyo Drift lost all of the series' major stars and suffered a 50% drop compared to the debut of 2 Fast 2 Furious. But 3 years later Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and company came back (including, incidentally, Wonder Woman herself, Gal Gadot) and the franchise roared back as Fast and Furious notched a 177% improvement over Tokyo Drift.
Correction: The headline and text of this article have been revised to reflect the 73% 5-day opening drop experienced by Alice Through The Looking Glass, the sequel to Alice in Wonderland. Thanks go to Forbes box office expert Scott Mendelson for his keen eye.
And then from Box Office Mojo:
'Transformers 5' Opens with Franchise Low as 'Wonder Woman' Surpasses 'Batman v Superman' Domestically
Paramount's Transformers: The Last Knight took the #1 spot this weekend as expected, but that opening was the lowest the franchise has seen thus far by a rather significant margin as a lot of attention will now turn toward the film's international run. Meanwhile, WB's Wonder Woman is still tearing up the box office as it has now become the highest grossing release within the DC Extended Universe and it is showing little sign of stopping.
Only one of the previous four Transformers features opened on a Wednesday and that was 2011's Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the third feature in the now five-film franchise, and it debuted with $162.6 million over its first five days in release, $97.8 million of that from the three-day weekend. By contrast, Transformers: The Last Knight brought in a mere $69.1 million over its first five days in release, an estimated $45.3 million of which over the three-day weekend. While this is relatively on par with the $70 million industry expectations, it puts added pressure on the $217 million production's international run.
As for that run, Last Knight kicked things off in 41 international markets with an estimated $196.2 million led by $123.4 million from China alone, the largest opening for a Transformers film in that market. Additionally, openings include Korea ($13m), Russia ($8.9m), United Kingdom ($5.7m), Germany ($4.7m), Taiwan ($4.1m), Australia ($3.6m), Philippines ($3.3m), Malaysia ($2.8m), Thailand ($2.8m), Hong Kong ($2.5m), Singapore ($2.2m) and Italy ($1.9m). While that China opening may be a franchise high, topping Transformers: Age of Extinction by more than $30 million, the other numbers aren't as impressive.
Before going on to gross over $858 million internationally, Transformers: Age of Extinction opened with $15.8 million in Korea, over $20 million in both Russia and the UK, $11.1 million in Germany, $8.3 million in Australia and so on. With the domestic run looking to finish somewhere around $130 million or so The Last Knight has a lot of work internationally yet to do. As for future releases, it will open in France next week, followed by July releases in Brazil and Mexico, with Japan and Spain premiering in early August.
Opening weekend demographics domestically show The Last Knight playing to an audience that was split 57% male versus 43% female and of that crowd, 29% were under the age of 18 and gave the film an "A" CinemaScore. Unfortunately, the 18-and-over crowd scored it a bit lower bringing the overall CinemaScore down to a "B+". Comparatively, only Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen scored below an "A-" when it too received a "B+" in 2009.
So, if we take these at face value, there's obviously been a shift in the success of the films. However it's not a super colossal failure, doom and gloom ruined forever scenario. Transformers is still a strong performer. There is a dip, but is it due to this film's specific approach to advertising, trailer content, word of mouth? Or is it a general franchise burnout that people have wondered about? I'm not really sure. Might be a question to come back to after the next film.
However it's also clear that the international performance is going to be important, perhaps more so than before. Will the next film be more oriented towards the Chinese market? Or will they not risk messing with the formula that China seems to like already?
Lots of questions, feel free to post new articles, theories, armchair film enthusiasts and opinions!