The fourth installment of the seemingly infinite Transformers franchise has made an estimated $100 Million for its opening weekend domestic haul, according to Box Office Mojo. It’s the second biggest opening for the Michael Bay helmed franchise, slightly behind Revenge of the Fallen‘s $108 Million and slightly higher than Dark of the Moon‘s $97 Million opening numbers. Reportedly the kickstart of a second Transformers trilogy, Age of Extinction has thus far made $200 Million overseas, moving its worldwide tally to a cool $300 Million. If history is any indication, Extinction has a good shot at closing in towards $1 Billion overall.
Though it’s tempting to suggest that Age of Extinction will lose quite a bit steam thanks to universally poor reviews, the Transformers movie series is notorious for making bucket loads of cash despite the better judgement of professional movie critics. The two previous installment were equally panned, but still managed to break box office records. With a Metacritic aggregate review of 31 and a 17% “Rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Age of Extinction has the worst reviews of any Transformers film, though at this point anything Michael Bay related is probably critic-proof. Movie-going audiences love giant robots and explosions, and word-of-mouth isn’t nearly as bad as should be expected; Age of Extinction has a CinemaScore of “A-,” likely due to an enthusiastically naive pre-teen target demographic.
Age of Extinction was touted as a “reboot” of sorts, and it features an entirely new cast of human characters including Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz (of Bates Motel fame), Kelsey Grammer and the great Stanley Tucci. This is the second time Wahlberg has worked with Michael Bay; he starred in the director’s 2013 “small” film, Pain and Gain.
Cynics have often cried foul at the success of the Transformers films, and for good reason: they seem to progressively get worse, but predictably make tons of money, giving Paramount Studios no reason to effectively breathe new life into a series that arguably has a great deal of potential. Sure, the entire concept is based around a Hasbro toy line, but Transformers has rich, imagination-driven mythology on its side. With better writing and direction, there’s no reason as to why the stories of giant alien robots can’t be made into decent movies. Nobody’s asking for transcendent cinema here–everything about Transformers has always been completely ridiculous–but pulpy, seemingly nonsensical sci-fi has been the backbone of many an excellent film (Pacific Rim and several Marvel movies come to mind). There’s no reason they can’t do better, but they won’t as long as there’s money to be made in substandard mediocrity. It really is a shame.