Paramount Pictures debuted what will likely be one of this summer's biggest movies last night, with Transformers: Age of Extinction taking in $8.75 million from Thursday night screenings, $1.4 million of which came from IMAX theaters.
Director Michael Bay's latest Transformers sequel opened in an estimated 2,900 theaters for screenings that started at 9 PM last night, before expanding to roughly 4,200 theaters today, 353 of which are IMAX locations. The $8.75 million Thursday night mark is actually the lowest tally in franchise history, falling short of Transformers' $8.8 million preview screening total in 2007, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's series-leading $16.6 million tally in 2009 and Transformers: Dark of the Moon's $13.5 million late-night earnings in 2011.
The $8.75 million earnings also fall short of recent blockbusters such as Godzilla's $9.3 million gross last month and Captain America: The Winter Soldier's $10.4 haul in April. However, the sequel is performing well in international markets, earning more than $30 million in global territories thus far. That total includes a record-breaking $3.5 million Thursday debut in China, $5.5 million in Russia and Taiwan's biggest opening day of all time with $1.4 million.
Transformers: Age of Extinction opens in 37 international markets today, including South Korea and Australia, but the biggest win for Paramount was securing a day-and-date release in China. The production went to great lengths to cater to Chinese moviegoers, including the casting of Chinese star Bingbing Li and filming at the Great Wall of China. The Chinese market is the second largest in the world, with the country providing $170 million to Transformers: Dark of the Moon's $1.1 billion worldwide haul.
In related news, Transformers: Age of Extinction hasn't been scoring high marks from the critics, with just a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. During a recent interview with MTV, Michael Bay responded to the "haters," claiming that, while the negative responses used to bother him, he doesn't care anymore, and that they will still see the movie, regardless of their hatred.
"They love to hate, and I don't care; let them hate. They're still going to see the movie! I think it's good to get a little tension. Very good. I used to get bothered by it, but I think it's good to get the dialogue going. It makes me think, and it keeps me on my toes, so it's good."
Finally, and almost ironically, Paramount has released a new "critics" TV spot, featuring words of praise for Transformers: Age of Extinction.