The Last Knight’ debuts to a franchise low – Orange County Register

The hulking machines of “Transformers” are no longer box-office behemoths in North America. But they’re still big in China.

Michael Bay’s “Transformers: The Last Knight,” the fifth installment in the Hasbro series, scored a franchise-low domestic debut with an estimated $43.5 million in ticket sales over the weekend and a five-day total of $69.1 million since opening Wednesday. All previous “Transformers” sequels opened with $97 million-plus.

But Paramount Pictures’ “The Last Knight,” the second “Transformers” movie to star Mark Wahlberg, still showed its might overseas. It took in $196.2 million internationally, including an impressive $123.4 million in China.

Future business will tell whether those grosses are enough to cover a hugely expensive movie: $217 million to make, plus nearly as much to market. Studios reap a smaller percentage of ticket sales from Chinese theaters. And reviews — though never much of a factor in “Transformers” land — were worse for “The Last Knight” than the earlier films. Audiences gave this one a B-plus CinemaScore.

Yet “Transformers” has been increasingly skewing international. The previous film, 2014’s “Age of Extinction,” made $858.6 million of its $1.1 billion global haul abroad.

“Transformers’ is built for a global audience,” said Kyle Davies, president of distribution for Paramount. “You really have to consider how we did in the overall and it was really strong overseas and in China. That’s how we treat ‘Transformers’: It’s a global property. So we’re hopeful that we’re going to get to a good place.”

“Wonder Woman” and “Cars 3” tied for second place, both with $25.2 million. Nearly a month after opening, Patty Jenkins’ “Wonder Woman” continues to be a major draw. In four weeks, it has surpassed $300 million domestically. And at $652.9 million globally, it’s the highest grossing film directed by a woman, not accounting for inflation.

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