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The summer season has its first genuine battle for top of the heap, as “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” looks to fend off last week’s top release “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”
“Rise of the Beasts” put its foot on the gas with $25 million on its opening day, a figure that includes $8.8 million in Thursday previews. The film is projected to land near a $60 million opening through the three-day frame, which would land at the higher end of estimates heading into the weekend.
Once a box office juggernaut, Paramount has attempted to reengineer the “Transformers” franchise for future longevity. The first three entries, directed by Michael Bay, each crossed $300 million in North American grosses, while threequel “Dark of the Moon” and its follow-up “Age of Extinction” both surpassed $1 billion worldwide. But Bay’s final production, 2017’s “Transformers: The Last Knight,” saw diminished returns, finishing with $130 million stateside and $605 million worldwide — almost half of the $1.1 billion in ticket sales earned by “Age of Extinction.” Paramount released the spinoff “Bumblebee” in 2018, produced on a comparatively smaller budget and met with $467 million worldwide.
“Rise of the Beasts” is now expected to land a better opening than the $44 million earned by “The Last Knight” in its debut. But robots in disguise don’t come cheap; the film will have to find some staying power to justify a production budget totaling around $200 million. Paramount’s real play is overseas, which has accounted for more than 70% of ticket sales for the franchise’s three most recent entries.
“Rise of the Beasts” stars Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, with a voice cast for the freedom-fighting CGI gas guzzlers that includes Pete Davidson, Ron Perlman, Michelle Yeoh, Liza Koshy, Peter Dinklage and longtime Optimus Prime voice actor Peter Cullen. “Creed II” director Steven Caple Jr. got the keys for this ride. The ’90s-set adventure introduces viewers to Maximals and Terrorcons — two ancient factions of Transformers that can morph into robotic animals.
Never a critical darling franchise, this “Transformers” entry hasn’t been received warmly in the press, earning a 32% approval rating from top critics on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman was very positive though, writing that “the robots felt more real to me as characters than they usually do.” Audiences are into it, as indicated by the “A-” grade from the first round of ticket buyers through Cinema Score.
More to come…