With a dismal 18% rotten on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, and a softer than expected debut of $8.75 million during its Thursday night preview screenings, the lowest of the entire franchise, Transformers: Age of Extinction turned things around on Friday to earn the biggest opening day of 2014. So far, the Michael Bay sequel has pulled in an estimated $41.6 million, which includes all preview and IMAX screenings.

Transformers 4 is the first movie of the year that has a chance of cracking $100 million during its opening weekend, a feat that has not yet been accomplished by the other big franchises already released this year. While Captain America: The Winter Soldier still holds the best debut of the year with $10.2 million from its Thursday night preview screenings, it only went on to earn $36.9 million during its opening day. It eventually earned a solid $95 million during its first weekend, only $5 million shy of reaching that coveted $100 million opening weekend mark.

Godzilla also bested Transformers: Age of Extinction with its Thursday night preview screening debut, taking in an unexpected $9.3 Million. Its opening day climbed past Captain America: The Winter Soldier with $38.4 million, but due to word of mouth, it fell short, earning a weekend take of just $93.2 million.

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While Transformers: Age of Extinction's Thursday night take of $8.75 million was a franchise low, it may not be the lowest weekend earner of the four movies yet released in this ongoing sci-fi saga based on the popular Hasbro action figure line. Though, it will be harder to judge against those previous three movies as they all opened in the middle of the week. Premiering on a Tuesday, July 3, 2007, Transformers earned $36.6 million (including Monday night previews). After three days of release it had pulled in $84.9 million, taking in $155 million over its long holiday weekend. Opening on a Wednesday in late June 2009, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen earned a crazy $62 million during its opening day debut, going on to pull in $200 million over the course of its first five day run throughout the weekend. Things settled back down with Transformers: Dark of the Moon. It still beats Transformers 4's opening day with a take of $43 million, debuting on a Wednesday in late June 2011, going onto earn $162 million over the course of its first five day run. That's pretty tough competition, but when it all shakes out, it looks like this newest adventure is holding pretty steady.

One of the reasons for lower than average numbers during those Thursday night preview screenings, compared to the other movies opening this year, is the fact that most kids are out of school, allowing for a more front-loaded Friday opening with a lot of fans flocking to matinee screenings.

How will this all look on Monday morning? Expect Transformers: Age of Extinction to get very close to that $100 million brass ring. The franchise has come along way since the 80s. The Transformers: The Movie, which opened in August of 1986, only earned $1,779,559 on its opening day, pulling in just $5,849,647 during its entire theatrical run.

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange