‘Transformers 4′ Explodes for Huge $41 Million Friday at Box Office

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The year’s best opening day gives Michael Bay’s “Age of Extinction” a good shot at 2014’s first $100 million weekend

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” exploded for $41.6 million in its first day at the domestic box office Friday, giving director Michael Bay‘s morphing robots epic a good shot at becoming the year’s first $100 million opener.

Saturday and Sunday will provide an indicator of how review-proof, or not, the fourth entry in the $2.7 billion franchise will be. Critics have reviled Paramount’s “Age of Extinction,” and it has an abysmal 18 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but the PG-13 sci-fi action extravaganza received an “A-” CinemaScore from first-night audiences at its 4,233 theaters.

The “Transformers 4″ audience skewed male (64 percent) and surprisingly older, with 58 percent over the age of 25.

The Friday haul for “Age of Extinction,” in which Mark Wahlberg has replaced Shia LeBouf as leading man, is the biggest first day for a movie this year and easily the actor’s best ever. It included $8.75 million from Thursday shows, and topped the $38 million that “Godzilla” managed on its way to a $93 million first weekend last month. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” opened with just under $37 million on its way to a $95 million debut in March, the year’s best so far.

Also read: Critics Bash ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction': 10 Brutal Takedowns More Entertaining Than the Movie

“Transformers 4″ is morphing into a monster overseas, too. With another $52 million from 37 territories Friday, it has taken in $80 million internationally already. A huge $30 million opening day in China was the highlight. If that estimate stands, it will be the biggest first-day Friday ever for an American movie.

The question of whether or not “Transformers” would hit $100 million was providing most of the drama at the U.S. box office.

Sony’s second-place “22 Jump Street” brought in $5.1 million Friday and is looking at $15 million over the three days. That would lift the Channing Tatum-Jonah Hill comedy sequel to nearly $140 million, topping the $138 million domestic take of the original film in only three weeks.

The dropoff for “Jump Street” was just 45 percent from last week, but another Sony sequel didn’t fare so well. Kevin Hart’s “Think Like a Man Too,” last week’s No. 1 movie, plunged 72 percent and brought in $3.3 million, which put it on course for fourth-place and a $10 million second week.

Also read: Michael Bay on ‘Transformers’ Haters: ‘Let Them Hate, They’re Still Going to See the Movie’

DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ ran third on Friday with $4.1 million and should come in around $13 million in its third weekend. If it does, the domestic total for the Fox-distributed family film will be nearly $122 million.

The Clint Eastwood-directed musical “Jersey Boys” dropped 51 percent from its opening last Friday and took in $2.2 million. That puts it on course for a $7 million weekend that would up its domestic total to $26 million for Warner Bros.

It looks like it will finish behind Disney’s “Maleficient,” which conjured $2.5 million Friday and will wind up at around $8 million in its fifth week. That would push the Angelina Jolie live-action fairy tale past the $200 million mark domestically, and it has brought in more than $530 million worldwide.

Also read: Will ‘Transformers 4’s’ Nearly 3-Hour Run Time Cut Into Box Office?

Sony’s “The Amazing Spider-Man 2″ should also cross $200 million this weekend. “The Lego Movie,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past” have hit that mark so far this year, and “Godzilla” is closing in.

Tom Cruise’s “The Edge of Tomorrow” was seventh Friday and on pace for a $5 million fourth week that would up its domestic total to $85 million. “The Fault in Our Stars,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Chef” rounded out the top ten.

The Weinstein Company’s Keira Knightley-Mark Ruffalo comedy “Begin Again,” which co-stars Adam Levine, got off to a fast start Friday. It brought in $43,304 from five screens for an impressive $8,661 per-screen average — better than any movie except for “Transformers.”