Things are not looking great for the Transformers franchise at the box office. At least not domestically. Transformers: The Last Knight has just arrived in theaters and, unfortunately for Paramount, the results are not awesome so far. Transformers 5 has actually managed to put up the lowest first day ever at the box office for the franchise, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for the studio’s lofty plans moving forward.
According to Deadline, Transformers: The Last Knight pulled in just $15.65 million, including $5.5 million from Wednesday night previews. That isn’t just a franchise low, it is less than half of what the second-worst Transformers movie pulled in, which was 2007’s original Transformers movie with $36.6 million. The other three Transformers movies all pulled in significantly more on their opening day, with 2009’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen nabbing a series-best $62 million, 2011’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon bringing in a still huge $43.2 million and 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction managing a comparable $41.8 million.
Interest in the U.S. has been falling off for the Transformers movies for a while now, but this drop off for Transformers: The Last Knight still seems somewhat shocking. Typically, one might look to poor reviews and blame them for such bad numbers, but Transformers is a bit of an interesting case. The franchise has never done particularly well with critics (every movie is currently Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes), but that hasn’t kept the movies from making bank at the box office. So, looking at the abysmal 16 percent approval rating from critics may be partially to blame for the decline, though, considering the history of the Transformers movies and financial success, despite critics hating them, that doesn’t seem like the main reason. One would probably point to general fatigue with the franchise at this point, and that could be problematic.
Right now Paramount has some huge plans for the future of the Transformers franchise. They are getting ready to go into production on a Bumblebee spin-off movie that will take place in the 80s, and they have already confirmed Transformers 6 will come out in 2019. Michael Bay said not that long ago that, thanks to a writer’s room that was assembled by Paramount in 2015, they have 14 potential Transformers movies mapped out. Should this trend continue, those plans may never see the light of day. Or we could be seeing a total reboot.
However, there is the foreign box office to consider, which has become increasingly more important to movies like Transformers: The Last Knight in recent years. The first Transformers made a total of $709.7 million worldwide, with $319.2, or 45 percent of the total gross, coming from domestic audiences. Looking at Transformers: Age of Extinction, which wound up being the top grossing movie of 2014 worldwide, only 22.2 percent, or $245.4 million of the $1.1 billion total box office was domestic. Paramount is going to be relying even more heavily on foreign markets this time around. Transformers: The Last Knight is expected to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $65 million total this weekend, and that is definitely not what we’ve come to expect from Optimus Prime and the gang.