Apparently there is still some interest left in the Transformers series — well, there was this weekend, anyway. Maybe it was the good will generated by Bumblebee or some saw the absence of Michael Bay in the director’s chair as a positive, but it led to a battle at the top of the box office this weekend. A close one too, as the good will of the Spider-Verse has turned into further good word-of-mouth across the spectrum for its sequel, which is on track to be one of the biggest successes of the summer.
The Transformers films are not what they once were. The first three films grossed over $300 million, $350 million, and $400 million. Exit LaBeouf, enter Wahlberg, and things began to get funky on the domestic side with grosses dropping to $245 million for Age of Extinction (with a $100 million opening) and $130 million (total) for The Last Knight. The spin-off Bumblebee did not do any better with $127 million, but its Certified Fresh 92% with critics was unheard of for a Transformers movie, given that the previous four films could only muster an 88% combined. The original had the highest score among the Michael Bay films with a 58%. Steven Caple Jr.’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts registered at 53% on the Tomatometer, but at the box office, it opened to nearly as much as Bumblebee and The Last Knight combined.
Paramount should be thrilled with the $60 million start for Beasts as it will help boost its potential to come out on the positive side of the ledger. This is the fourth Transformers production to tip the scale at $200 million, and it will need three times that to start turning a profit. Thankfully these films have rarely had a problem, thanks in part to their international hauls. Bumblebee’s $340 million overseas is the lowest of the previous six films, and it benefited from having the smallest budget of the lot. The Last Knight’s $217 million budget could not be saved, even with $475 million of international receipts, thanks to its paltry domestic total. Rise of the Beasts grossed $110 million internationally this weekend. Long way to go.
To put it in perspective, $60 million is the sixth-best opening for the second weekend in June, just behind Madagascar 3 ($60.3 million) and the original Cars ($60.1 million), but this is also no guarantee that $200 million domestic is in its future. Paramount would like to keep the weekend estimate above $60 million since the last film to open below that number in June and reach $200 million was Seth MacFarlane’s Ted, all the way back in 2012.
The weekend fluctuations from day-to-day for Rise of the Beasts closely resembled the percentages of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Hobbs & Shaw, Sonic the Hedgehog, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Amazing Spider-Man. Together they averaged a 54.2 percent drop in their second weekend and a final multiple of 3.20. That would give Rise of the Beasts a very optimistic final projection of $193 million domestic… except it faces a lot of competition next week and is likely headed down to third place. The Last Knight fell 62% when it was beaten by Despicable Me 3 and Baby Driver. Age of Extinction was faced with Tammy, Deliver Us from Evil, and Earth to Echo (which grossed $39.6 million combined), and it still fell 63% to $37 million. A new DC movie and a new Pixar film could equal a similar drop for Beasts next week, and that could put it on a path closer to $150-160 million.
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is now over $390 million worldwide. It took only nine days to outgross Into the Spider-Verse and came close to staying atop the box office for another week. But second place hardly matters when it arrives with over $55 million, the ninth-best second weekend ever in June. That gives it nearly the same 10-day total as Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, whose $225.1 million was the tenth-highest ten-day total this month until Across the Spider-Verse displaced it. It also bested Raimi’s second weekend by more than $10 million, putting it on pace to also best its $373 million total with a shot at reaching $400 million. Toy Story 3 reached $226.8 million in 10 days after posting a $59.3 million second weekend and found itself passing $415 million. As it is also outpacing Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Across the Spider-Verse is a new favorite to become the highest-grossing film of the summer.
Spider-Man has also nearly caught Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which came in third with another $22.7 million, bringing its domestic total over $228 million. That finds it starting to fall behind the pace of Aladdin, which made $24.6 million in its third weekend and a 17-day total of $232.5 million. The $340 million pace is real for Disney’s live-action remake, which could give the studio two films this summer to reach that, as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 keeps chugging along to over $335 million this weekend (and over $805 million worldwide). Mermaid, however, is still nervously watching that international total, which stands at $185 million. Though it should hit half a billion with little fuss, it still needs to make three quarters of a billion, or else it’s going to look more like “Under the Red Sea.”
Fox’s horror release, The Boogeyman, finished in fourth with $6.9 million, bringing its running total to $24.7 million. That puts it just ahead of the pace of 47 Meters Down, which had $23.9 million after 10 days and a $7.08 million second weekend. The latter finished with over $44 million, which wasn’t enough for the $35 million film to turn a theatrical profit. That is nothing compared to the hole that Fast X finds itself in. Everything points to the film not reaching $150 million in North America. It stands at $138 million right now, $8 million off the pace of similar tanker X-Men: Apocalypse, which finished with $155 million and had $5.3 million in its fourth weekend compared to Fast X’s $5.2 million. $652+ million worldwide and the film is still over $180 million in the red. Universal may have announced Fast X: Part 2 for an early April 2025 release, but Part 1 has a chance to become the studio’s biggest loser ever.
Celine Song’s Past Lives made it into the top 10 this weekend, earning $520,772 in just 24 theaters. That’s a $20,029 per-theater average for the A24 release, which will be expanding wide on June 23. The film, which has earned rave reviews since Sundance, has grossed over $867,000 in 10 days of limited release. That is just a bit behind the pace of Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade, which grossed $824,173 in its second weekend (in just 5 theaters) and had a 10-day total of $1.22 million. It ultimately grossed $13.5 million. Lulu Wang’s The Farewell expanded into 35 theaters in its second week and grossed $1.14 million for a 10-day total of $1.64 million. It went on to gross $17.6 million.
A lot happens at the box office next weekend. Warner Bros.’ The Flash is likely to take the lead as it hangs onto a 71% score from critics. Pixar will get its first film into theaters since the pandemic began, but Elemental is coming in on the soft side with critics at 70%. Only the Cars sequels have lower scores in the entire Pixar canon. Tim Story’s horror comedy The Blackening also arrives from Lionsgate, which has had three releases in a row open to less than $7 million. Then, in limited release, the new film from Wes Anderson, Asteroid City, opens with a fresh 74% that is still the third-lowest score of his career ahead of only The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
[box office figures via Box Office Mojo]
Thumbnail image by ©Paramount Pictures