When a big-budget film gets negative reviews, we often hear from filmmakers that the movie was made for fans not critics. As long as audiences show up and enjoy the film, that sentiment more or less rings true. But when a blockbuster is both panned by critics and dismissed by the moviegoers who took the time to show up, that may be a sign that something is wrong. That's exactly where the Transformers franchise is now.
Transformers: The Last Knight, the fifth film in the massive Michael Bay-directed franchise, is nearly out of gas when it comes to the box office. After opening on Wednesday to $15.65 million, Deadline is reporting that the fifth-quel is set to earn less than $70 million domestically in its first five days of release. While that number may still sound like an impressive haul, it's lower than the three-day openings of the previous four films in the franchise. The fourth Transformers film, 2014's Age of Extinction, earned more than $100 million domestically during its first three days in theaters.
The problem seems to be that fans are just tired of this long-running franchise. While the first Transformers, which landed in theaters in 2007, at least had some novelty to it — being the first time these iconic '80s characters were portrayed on the big screen in such a visually stunning way — the later installments have become progressively nonsensical, and fans appear to just be fed up. Aside from the disappointing box office total, audiences have also awarded the film a Cinemascore of B+, which may not sound all that harsh, but that actually ties The Last Knight with 2009's Revenge of the Fallen for the worst score in the franchise.
But while the Transformers franchise may be running on fumes in the United States, it's a different story internationally. So far, each film has earned more internationally than its predecessor, with Age of Extinction topping $858 million from overseas markets alone. If The Last Knight performs even remotely as well overseas, it will more than justify the film's reported $217 million budget. This also means the Transformers movies will likely keep getting made, even if Michael Bay steps down as director for future films.
All indications are that The Last Knight will perform exceptionally well overseas, as Deadline reports the film could possibly open with $270 million globally.
In the end, the movie's final global tally will very much depend on China, where Age of Extinction earned $320 million. With reports suggesting that the new film could open to as much as $100 million in one weekend alone in China, it's likely that The Last Knight will become the highest grossing Transformers film in the Middle Kingdom.
So, even if U.S. audiences are tuning out Transformers, as long as it keeps making money abroad, don't expect the franchise to end any time soon.
Transformers: The Last Knight is now playing in theaters.