While Paramount’s Transformers 5 just suffered its worst opening day in franchise history, there may be a silver lining because it’s looking to open huge in China. The action-packed sequel directed by Michael Bay has pulled in $41 million on its opening day Friday in China, and when factoring in Thursday sneak previews, the first-day gross is at $47 million. That figure is far below the domestic opening day tally of $15.5 million, a franchise low, and the $23 million two-day tally from Wednesday and Thursday combined. This huge debut in China could certainly mean that Transformers: The Last Knight will follow in the box office footsteps of its predecessor, 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, which had a franchise low domestic total but flourished overseas, particularly in China.
Variety reports that Transformers: The Last Knight represented 89% of the entire Chinese market in its opening day, according to the Chinese box office tracking service China Box Office. The sequel was also partially financed by China’s Huahua Media, with the $41 million score before Thursday previews representing the fourth highest opening day in Chinese history, behind The Fate of the Furious, local hit Journey to the West and Furious 7. While the first two Transformers movies performed well globally, the last two movies grossed over $1 billion, almost entirely thanks to an emerging Chinese market.
The first two movies, 2007’s Transformers and 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, only earned $103 million from China combined, but 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon earned a whopping $165.1 million from China alone, with $352.3 million domestic and $774.1 million internationally for a global total of $1.1 billion. 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction dropped quite dramatically at the domestic box office with just $245.4 million, but its tally from China alone doubled from the last movie, with an incredible $320 million, easily the biggest international market. The sequel earned $858.6 million internationally, bringing its worldwide total to $1.1 billion once again. While the Transformers box office decline continues on the domestic front, it very well could have a strong showing internationally, particularly in China.
The domestic opening day total is down sharply from the $41.8 million opening day of 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction. The movie is now on course for a five-day opening weekend of around $60 million, with a three-day tally of around $40 million, which comes in much less than most projections. If that three-day projection is accurate, it will be the lowest opening weekend in franchise history, coming in much lower than the first installment, Transformers, which earned $70.5 million in its opening weekend almost exactly 10 years ago. Transformers: Age of Extinction opened with $100 million in 2014, but it suffered a sharp 63% drop in its second weekend, with the debut representing 40.8% of its total domestic gross.
This paltry opening comes as Paramount gets ready to launch new Transformers spin-offs like Bumblebee, which will start production this summer. Michael Bay has also teased that the studio has 14 Transformers movies in development, through the franchise writer’s room, with producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura teasing that production will start on Transformers 6 sometime next summer. Still, with this weekend looking to be a bust at the domestic box office for Transformers: The Last Knight, it may cause Paramount to dial back their plans a bit, but if the Chinese box office keeps growing, that may not be necessary.