With the release of Transformers: The Last Knight, we are supposedly seeing the release of the final film in the franchise to be directed by Michael Bay, the pale king of modern empty-headed movie spectacles. It’s also easily the most idiotic film in the series, and runs at an unmerciful two-and-a-half hours, which is shorter than Age of Extinction but in the same realm as Dark of the Moon. I don’t imagine that these are the reasons that The Last Knight is currently looking at an estimated $62 million opening weekend, which would be the most meager opening for the franchise to date, but there is something to be said for an audience simply losing interest in franchise, even after sticking it through four films that in total are about the length of the entire last season of Fargo.
There is a silver lining here, however, and it speaks to the growing reliance on foreign box office prospects over domestic ones. In China, The Last Knight has already amassed $41 million on its opening day, which is well over half of what Bay’s movie is projected to make over five days in the states. This is good news for Bay and Paramount, but probably not great news for American audiences who are becoming more easily fatigued by franchises. If a movie as extravagantly stupid and unspeakably convoluted as The Last Knight can make back its frankly outrageous budget via the foreign box office, there will be a shift to promote more abroad and continue to release these empty and astoundingly expensive entertainments rather than try something vaguely new to capture the American audience. The foreign BO, for better or (mostly) worse, is now becoming the savior of the American movie studios unoriginal, risk-averse production schedule more than ever.
The news is not all bad. Wonder Woman, Patty Jenkins‘ rousing DC adaptation, just crossed the $600 million mark and became the most lucrative film directed by a woman in history. Jenkins film is looking at an estimated $47 million weekend in its fourth frame, right behind Cars 3, which looks to be heading toward the second spot over the weekend. You can expect 47 Meters Down, All Eyez on Me, and The Mummy to battle it out for the fourth and fifth spot. I hope the first two end up in the spots, as much as I despise the middling, kid-gloves criticism of Tupac Shakur in All Eyez on Me, if only because The Mummy, much like The Last Knight, will likely be saved financially by the foreign box office. I don’t see that happening with Mandy Moore vs. Sharks.