After dethroning Wonder Woman, while taking down three other newcomers, the Disney Pixar animated sequel Cars 3 will have a short one-weekend reign atop the box office, going up against the action-packed live-action sequel Transformers: The Last Knight, which opens on Wednesday, June 21, and has no direct competition in wide release either on Wednesday, or throughout the weekend, although there are a slew of indie titles opening in limited release. This final Transformers franchise movie from director Michael Bay should have no trouble taking the top spot, with a projected three-day opening weekend of $84.7 million, with a five-day total from Wednesday through Sunday reaching $157.2 million. If these projections are accurate, it will continue the Transformers franchise's unpredictable track record when it comes to opening weekends.
This franchise shows not only how unpredictable audiences can be, but how front-loaded the industry has become in the past decade. The Transformers franchise kicked off 10 years ago with the first Transformers movie, which turned young stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox into household names. The movie opened well, with $70.5 million, which would represent just 22.1% of its domestic gross of $319.2 million, which was the third-highest grossing movie of 2007, behind Shrek the Third ($322.7 million) and Spider-Man 3 ($337.5 million). The 2009 sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen opened much bigger, with a $108.9 million debut (27.1% of domestic gross), en route to a $402.1 million domestic tally, second highest of 2009, behind Avatar ($749.7 million) and $836.3 million worldwide.
Two years later in 2011, the next Transformers movie, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, slipped just a bit, at least domestically, opening with $97.8 million (27.8% of domestic total) en route to $352.3 million domestically but a whopping $1.1 billion worldwide, thanks to the emergence of China as a global box office powerhouse. That movie earned $165.1 million from China alone, whereas the first two movies earned $103 million from China combined. That trend would continue with the last installment, 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction, which opened with $100 million (40.8% of its domestic total), with $245.4 million domestic and $1.1 billion worldwide, thanks to a whopping $320 million from China alone. The Chinese market will also be integral to the success of Transformers: The Last Knight.
Box Office Mojo projects that Transformers 5 will open in 3,900 theaters, which would be the lowest rollout in Transformers franchise history, with each of the past four movies opening in at least 4,000 theaters, with 2014's Transformers: Age of Extinction debuting in 4,233 theaters. There aren't enough movie reviews posted for Transformers: The Last Knight to warrant a Rotten Tomatoes score, but the franchise has never been a hit with critics. The first Transformers from 2007 scored a 57% rating, the closest it had come to a "fresh" score, but all of its follow-ups, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (19%), Transformers: Dark of the Moon (35%), and Transformers: Age of Extinction (18%) have been critical flops.
We're projecting that the top 10 from last weekend will all simply move down a spot, with Cars 3 ($30.7 million), Wonder Woman ($25.8 million), All Eyez on Me ($13.6 million) and The Mummy ($8.2 million) rounding out the top 5 behind this Transformers sequel. The top 10 will likely be rounded out by 47 Meters Down ($6.2 million), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ($4.1 million), Rough Night ($3.8 million), Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie ($3.2 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($2.8 million). Also opening in limited release is Vertical Entertainment's Alien Arrival, which will debut alongside Neon's The Bad Batch, Indican's A Beginner's Guide to Snuff, Focus Features' The Beguiled remake, Lionsgate's The Big Sick, a pair of Abramorama documentaries, Food Evolution and F(l)ag Football, Arc Entertainment's The Operative, Strand's The Ornithologist, Screen Media's Ripped and Yash Raj's Tubelight.
Looking ahead to next weekend, Sony Pictures will roll out Baby Driver on Wednesday, June 28, with the Universal animated sequel Despicable Me 3, Warner Bros.' comedy The House and The Weinstein Company's Amityville: The Awakening arriving in theaters Friday June 30 to close out the month. Also arriving in limited release is Sony Pictures Classics' 13 Minutes, Neon's documentary The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography, Gunpowder & Sky's comedy The Little Hours and Strand's documentary's The Skyjacker's Tale. Take a look at our box office projections for the weekend of June 23, and check back on Sunday for the box office estimates.