How Did ‘Transformers 4’ Make $300 Million Its Opening Weekend?


Seven years ago a big budget movie based on a cartoon from the 1980s with impressive CGI effects came out, and made $29 million on it’s opening weekend. Fast forward seven years later, and the fourth film in the franchise — “Transformers: Age of Extinction” — pulled in a staggering $301 million on its opening weekend. This is astounding.

The Paramount-released action movie about fighting robots from outer space received terrible reviews leading up to its release, but none of this mattered. Director Michael Bay’s fourth entry into the epic franchise delivered bigger than any of the previous films. It’s not even a sequel, but a sequel to a sequel to a sequel. The cast is different with Mark Wahlberg and newcomer, Nicola Peltz subbing in for Shia LaBeof and Megan Fox, but the story is essentially the same minus a few tweaks. (Autobots must fight the bad guys and the world will be destroyed if they lose.)

So how did a movie, that received terrible reviews, and largely regurgitate the previous story, but with a new cast pull in such insane box office revenue? Basically, the answer can be attributed to China. While Hollywood didn’t necessarily go the way of every other industry and moving all of its production over to China, the movie was co-produced by several Chines companies and largely marketed in the foreign market. Many American films make their way overseas and pull big amounts of box office cash, but roughly $200 million of “Transformers 4’s” cash grab came from foreign markets with $90 million coming from China.

“Edge of Tomorrow”, a film starring Tom Cruise that was based on a Japanese comic did terrible at the box office by comparison — despite receiving overall positive reviews from critics. You could attribute this to the possibility that the movie seemed unfamiliar to American audiences. We know Transformers. With Hollywood making more reboots and sequels than original films these days, is it possible that we’re being conditioned to only enjoy what is the already familiar. Considering that the “Fault in Our Stars”, an indie romance beat it, I don’t think this is the case.

So, what can we take away from this? You could theorize that Hollywood might shift more of its production over to China and start making films to appeal to that base. Then again, you could also hash out the old argument that consumers are even lazier than Hollywood and will spend money on whatever’s given to them. One thing is for certain though, Paramount is going to attempt to repeat this formula and we will most definitely be seeing a “Transformers 5.”

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