Transformers 4 strikes box-office gold
DESPITE poor reviews by critics, Transformers: Age Of Extinction pulled in more than US$300 million (S$375 million) worldwide in its first weekend, shattering the record in China for Imax large-format screens.
It may reach US$1 billion in its global theatre run, according to BoxOffice.com chief analyst Phil Contrino.
The film, Paramount Pictures' summer blockbuster, opened with weekend sales of US$100 million in North America, making it the biggest domestic debut of the year.
It is the first in a new trilogy of the alien-robot franchise from Viacom's studio.
Age Of Extinction, the fourth in the series, is again directed by Michael Bay. The film picks up with the battling robots that convert into cars and trucks.
Mark Wahlberg stars as Cade Yeager, a car mechanic who, with his daughter Tessa, played by Nicola Peltz, make a discovery that brings the Autobots, and government officials, down on them.
The movie also features Chinese actress Li Bingbing as Paramount seeks to increase the appeal of the series in the country.
"Adding Mark Wahlberg to the mix is a very smart move," Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst at Rentrak, said. "It added new blood into the franchise and new excitement."
The film garnered only a 15 per cent positive rating with critics on Rottentomatoes.com, while 69 per cent of audiences liked it, according to the review aggregator.
The only movie in wide release in the United States and Canadian theatres, it easily outdistanced Sony's cop comedy sequel 22 Jump Street, according to an e-mailed statement from Rentrak.
Age Of Extinction is forecast to be the biggest movie of the summer, and may give a lift to the US domestic box office, which has lagged behind last year's in ticket sales.
Weekend revenue for the top 10 films fell about 6 per cent to US$170 million from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said.
Domestic box-office sales year to date are about US$5 billion, a decrease of about 1 per cent from the same period last year.
Filmed in the US and China, Age Of Extinction had a production budget of US$165 million, excluding marketing costs, according to IMDB.com. The movie may produce total domestic sales of US$265 million in its theatre run, according to BoxOffice.com.
The preceding film in the series, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, opened with US$98 million in June 2011, and grossed US$352 million domestically, according to Box Office Mojo.
Age Of Extinction, which opened in China at the same time as its domestic debut, may draw a significant amount of its box-office sales from Asia.
Dark Of The Moon had the second-biggest opening weekend for a US film in China, pulling in US$56 million, and ending with total sales of US$165 million.
Early estimates show the new film bringing in about US$90 million in China, Rentrak said.
The almost US$10 million in ticket sales to view the film on Imax screens in China more than doubled the previous record held by The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, said Imax.
"Keeping in mind the staggering growth of the Chinese box office since then, expectations are high for this film," Mr Contrino said in an interview.