‘Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’ Earns $8.8 Million at Thursday Box Office

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Paramount’s franchise relaunch could top $60 million in its opening weekend, whether or not it places second to “Across the Spider-Verse”

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Paramount, Skydance and Hasbro’s “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” began its domestic box office sprint on Thursday with $8.8 million in preview screening grosses. That is on par with (sans inflation) the $8.8 million earned via Tuesday previews for “Transformers: The Last Knight” in June of 2017 and the $8.75 million Thursday preview gross of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” in 2014. “Bumblebee” nabbed $2.85 million in previews amid a holiday-season Wed-Sun debut in late 2018. 

Pre-release projections pegged the film for a $50-$60 million opening weekend, and that’s what these Thursday grosses point toward.  

A Thursday-to-weekend multiplier on par with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” ($118 million from a $17 million Thursday) and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” ($120 million/$17.4 million) gets it to $61 million. A more optimistic comparison to “Fast X” ($67 million/$7.5 million) or “John Wick: Chapter 4” ($73 million/$8.9 million) has it earning between $73 million and $78 million by Sunday night.  

‘Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’ trailer

Considering the mixed-negative reviews (55% fresh and 5.1/10 on Rotten Tomatoes) and that the franchise is very much past its prime, the more frontloaded examples are arguably more apt. For the record, the actual opening weekend gross will be what matters, as opposed to whether it can top the box office over a potentially overperforming “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.” 

“Rise of the Beasts,” which is a straight-up sequel to Travis Knight’s “Bumblebee” and a very loose prequel to the Michael Bay “Transformers” pentalogy, is hoping that the insertion of characters from the “Beast Wars” animated spin-off will increase interest beyond “just another ‘Transformers’ movie.” That 1990s animated episodic is often considered the best of the many “Transformers” animated shows, and it amassed a fanbase unto itself. 

Michael Bay’s final film, “Transformers: The Last Knight,” earned just $44 million over a $73 million Wed-Sun weekend, topping out at $130 million domestic and $605 million worldwide. It was a huge comedown for the once top-tier Bay-helmed franchise, down from the $1.2 billion cume of “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” in 2011 and the $1.1 billion total – including $300 million in China — of “Transformers: Age of Extinction” in 2014.  

“Bumblebee,” helmed by Laika’s Travis Knight, was a loose prequel/reset in the “X-Men: First Class” vein, centering on a young girl (Hailee Steinfeld) who discovers the title yellow car amid a kinder, gentler 80’s set action fantasy. It earned $128 million domestically and $471 million worldwide on a $102 million budget, including a face-saving $171 million in China.  

Since then, it’s been an open question as to the overall IP value of the “Transformers” films versus the at-that-moment appeal of the Michael Bay-directed epics that supplied bigger thrills, larger scale and a certain surreal vulgarity that audiences couldn’t get anywhere else.

Ironically, considering the lowered expectations, diminishing returns and whether PVOD and streaming change the equation and even though this flick costs closer to “The Last Knight” than “Bumblebee,” Paramount might be OK with a final worldwide total between “Bumblebee” and “The Last Knight,” although they’d rather flirt with the $865 million total of “Revenge of the Fallen.”