transformersfeature

Box Office Brasserie:
Movie News For Movie Lovers

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” is set to kill off the competition this weekend, which is exactly what happens when Michael Bay and Hasbro get together as the previous three installments all put the squeeze on the box office when they debuted. While it’s rare to have only one film open over a summer weekend, consider Transformers is a franchise that has grossed $2.6B, and you can see why no one has the nuts (and bolts) to roll out against Optimus Prime and Co.

The fourth edition is Grim-locked and loaded with everything you’ve come to expect, well, sans Shia LaBeouf, but that leaves us with Marky Mark and the Dinobot Bunch…which is a pretty good sell when your main objective is trying to lure in teens and fanboys.

Let see: Robots in disguise? Check. Hot teenage girl pushing the limits of sexuality? Check. Autobots wrongly accused of treason against humanity? Check. Power ballads? Check. Random explosions and massive casualties? Checkity check.

Debuting in 4,233 theaters, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” is probably Summer 2014’s last great hope for a flick to debut with $100M+. Should be close. Considering last weekend was a bit of a lull, with the #1 film debuting with less than $30M, it sets up the perfect storm for a tentpole like Transformers to take no prisoners.

The addition of Wahlberg will help wrangle in jaded fans and probably a few new ones too, so we should see a debut of around $105M–which would put it up there with the best this series has seen. That in itself is a bit of a head-scratcher considering Paramount hasn’t done much to reinvent each successive film, even though they always promise they’ve “got it right” this time.

With a budget of $165M “Age of Extinction” comes in at a bargain…especially considering the upside: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” scored a franchise-high $1.1B and this could do the same as overseas prospects are sky high.

In exclusive release, Weinstein’s “Begin Again” jams in 7 theaters this weekend and should see strong results, as it’s definitely that something fresh in the wake of the multiplex malaise. The question is, will it make enough sweet music in arthouses to sneak into cinemas. Hope so. Deserves to be seen…and heard.

REVIEW: “Transformers: Age of Extinction”

Boom. Bam. Boom. Boom. Bam. BOOM. BAM. BOOM. Ratatatatatatatatat. Roar. ROAR. ROOOOOOOOAR. Spoiler Alert: BOOOOOOOOOOOM!

That pretty much tells you everything you need to know…and if not…well, go see it yourself, it’s not like reviews have ever helped/hurt the series before. Consider this: no Transformers movie has ever received a fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes, and currently “Part 4” is one of the lowest of the franchise hovering at 20%.

Does it deserve that? Depends. No one makes a movie like Bay. No one. And depending on whether you like your movies to play out like the coolest, most epic video game you’ve ever seen is probably your answer to that question.

If you enjoyed the previous installments—which obviously a lot of people do—you’ll dig this; if you abhor them, and have to review movies for a living…well, that brings us squarely back to 20%.

If it gets any lower, might have see if LaBeouf is up for “Part 5.” Which should probably be titled: “Transformers: Yes, We’re Finally F*ckin’ Going to Cybertron!” Aaaaaaaaand…breathe.

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WEEKEND ESTIMATES

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction – $105M

2. 22 Jump Street – $16M

3. How To Train Your Dragon 2 – $15M

4. Think Like a Man Too – $12M

5. (tie) Maleficent – $8M

5. (tie) Jersey Boys – $8M

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SPLICE OF LIFE: BLURBS, BLIPS, CUTS & CLIPS

DEL TORO’S ‘PACIFIC RIM’ SEQUEL SET FOR SPRING 2017

While many fanboys considered Guillermo del Toro’s monster mash-up to be as terrific as the pacific and as frantic as the Atlantic, your average domestic moviegoer didn’t buy into the rock ’em sock ’em robot actioner, leaving the nearly $200M production stalling out at just a click over $100M.

Usually that type of box office mediocrity leaves talks of sequels to those who loiter around Redboxes and diddle in the twittersphere, however the overseas box office was solid, hitting over $300M, with China leading the charge with a massive $150M.

So, will “Pacific Rim 2: Robotic Boogaloo” (tentative title) be set in China? If they’re smart: most definitely. Just like “Transformers: Age of Extinction” entire final act, it’s in the studios best interests to cater to the whims of the Chinese marketplace as blockbuster fever has swept the nation and it seems robot-mania is in full effect. In fact, “Pacific Rim” outgrossed North America in China, hauling in $111M.

With del Toro returning to the control module and Legendary Pictures moving to Universal, this sets the stage for the studio to capitalize on a much leaner version without the cost associated with launching a brand new franchise.

Remember, Universal also took a chance on del Toro’s “Hellboy 2: The Golden Army” too, with modest results, though. Their ace in the hole for “Pacific Rim 2” is cashing in on Zak Penn (“X-Men: The Last Stand,” “The Incredible Hulk”) as the screenwriter. The mythology is fine as were the visuals, sound design and special effects which rocked multiplexes last summer, however the real issue with “Pacific Rim” as far as I’m concerned was the flimsy storyline, pedestrian plotting and cardboard cut-out characters. Should be rectified now.

You don’t often get a second chance in Hollywood…but del Toro is as talented as they come and Universal needs this is a big way. $500M or bust. Go big or go extinct…for reals this time.

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CHOICE CUT OF THE WEEK: WB’s “Into the Storm” (Aug. 8, 2014)

Yes, this probably should have been called “Twister 2,” but apparently the studio didn’t want to pay any big-name stars to be in this one. I mean, remember that lineup? Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Jeremy Davies. This one has, um, well…let’s just say the storm takes center stage. Note: “Twister” was a huge hit back in 1996, making nearly $500M worldwide.

As much as I hate to admit, the footage does sorta make me wish a shark was being launched outta one of those massive tornadoes. Great money shot at the end though at an airport. Could surprise.

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CHOICE BLIP OF THE WEEK: SyFy’s “Sharknado 2: The Second One (July 31, 2014)

I think it’s pretty obvious that “Sharknado 2” will steal the thunder from “Into the Storm.” This may be the most exciting film left on the summer release calendar besides “Guardians of the Galaxy.” And it has the perfect pricing point: F-R-E-E.

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Jeff Bock, NewsWhistle’s movie editor, is the senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations in Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at Jeff@NewsWhistle.com.

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Poster Image Courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Design Courtesy of BLT Communications