This has been a summer of slightly underwhelming box office returns on major film franchises, but this trend didn’t apply to “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the fourth in the series about Hasbro battle bots that turn into cars (and in this case also dinosaurs).
Over the three-day weekend, the Paramount behemoth assembled $100 million at the North American box office, plus another $201.3 million from international markets — a record high for 2014. Among its foreign grosses was a staggering $90 million from China. The production had kowtowed to the nation, including leveling parts of Beijing during the climax.
Its many, many detractors in the critical community — it currently holds a 17 percent at review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes, which seems a bit high — can take a minimum of solace from how “Age of Extinction” was only a hair higher than the three-day opening for “Dark of the Moon,” the series’ third entry, which netted $97.9 million in 2011. In 2009, second film “Revenge of the Fallen” grossed $108.9 million its opening weekend.
The fourth entry chucked the original cast — save motivation-dispensing Autobot leader Optimus Prime — and brought on Mark Wahlberg, who plays another overprotective daughter in a film by Michael Bay (who did that thing with Bruce Willis and Liv Tyler in “Armageddon”).
“Transformers” was the weekend’s only major new release. In holdovers, “22 Jump Street,” in week three, collected another $15.4 million to bring its cume to $139 million. “How to Train Your Dragon 2” fired up $13.1 million for a $121.8 million total, and last week’s winner — “Think Like a Man Too” — tumbled to fourth, with only $10.4 million in grosses. Its total now stands at $48.1 million.
In independent news, Jon Favreau’s star-studded culinary dramedy “Chef” added another $1.6 million to a high-for-indies $19.4 million total. In very limited release, two products from The Weinstein Company excelled: “Begin Again,” a musical-themed drama with Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo, grossed $148,000 from five theaters for a dynamite $29,600 average.
Meanwhile, “Snowpiercer” — the acclaimed English-language South Korean thriller starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, which has already been a blockbuster around the world — bowed to $162,000 from eight theaters. Its $20,250 average is promising as it spreads across the nation.
The top 5 below:
1 ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ $100 million
2 ’22 Jump Street’ $15.4 million
3 ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ $13.1 million
4 ‘Think Like a Man Too’ $10.4 million
5 ‘Maleficent’ $8.2 million
Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge