Even star vehicles run out of gas eventually. “Transformers: The Last Knight,” the fifth installment of Michael Bay’s maximalist action series, landed with a thud at the North American box office this weekend, taking in just $45.3 million. However, its disappointing showing — easily the lowest of the franchise — was somewhat salvaged by robust business overseas.
While Paramount’s “The Last Knight” did hit No. 1 in North America, it made just 57 percent of what its prequel, “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” made in its first five days in 2014, showing once again that consumers are getting tired of franchises overstaying their welcomes. (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” Chapter 5, and “Alien: Covenant,” Chapter 8, also fared poorly this year.)
Reviews were generally awful, although the New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger praised Anthony Hopkins’ performance, and audience members gave the film an exit score of B+ in CinemaScore exit polls. The franchise’s creators will have to hope for a new spark, as the sixth and seventh installments have already been scheduled for 2018 and 2019.
“The Last Knight” still performed strongly overseas, opening at No. 1 in 40 markets. In particular, the movie was huge in China, where it grossed $123.4 million, making for the biggest opening for any “Transformers” movie there. Paramount said that the movie earned an estimated $265.3 worldwide through Sunday. “Transformers” cost at least $350 million to make and market worldwide, with the cost shouldered by Paramount and a variety of financing partners, including the Chinese film company Huahua Media.
Paramount badly needed “The Last Knight” to be an unqualified hit. So far this year, all of Paramount’s films have been domestic flops: “Baywatch,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Monster Trucks” and “Rings.”
In contrast, the fresh-faced “Wonder Woman,” directed by Patty Jenkins, continued its strong run, pulling in $25.1 million in its fourth weekend to bring its total to $318.4 million. It also became the top-grossing live-action movie to be directed by a woman, passing “Mamma Mia.”
The animated Pixar movie “Cars 3” tied with “Wonder Woman” for second place, winning over a diverse audience and earning $99.9 million after just 10 days in theaters.
Meanwhile, two indie releases performed impressively in limited releases: Kumail Nanjiani’s “The Big Sick” took in $435,000 in five theaters, while “The Beguiled,” directed by Sofia Coppola, earned $240,545 in just four. Those numbers bode well as the critically acclaimed movies open across the country in the coming weeks.