- Transformers: Rise of the Beasts box office: Despite claims that the latest Transformers flick had a “solid” domestic opening, there’s little chance the $195 million actioner will match – let alone recover – its production budget in the U.S. and Canada. International figures have been better – but “better” may not be good enough.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts box office: When a ‘solid’ domestic opening amounts to about 60 percent of the 16-year-old movie franchise’s best weekends
June 9–11 weekend box office: Paramount Pictures’ Steven Caple Jr.-directed Transformers: Rise of the Beasts topped the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office chart, grossing what many pundits have called “a solid” $61 million from 3,678 theaters as per final studio figures found at boxofficemojo.com.
Now, how solid is “solid”?
First of all, early tracking had indicated that Rise of the Beasts would debut with $68–$70 million. More importantly, one must remember the movie’s Autobot-sized budget: A reported $195 million (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses).
And that means there’s little chance the mostly panned sci-fi actioner (29 percent approval, 3.9/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes’ “top critics”) will manage to as much as match its production budget at the domestic box office, let alone recover it.
Rise of the Beasts vs. The Last Knight & Bumblebee
For comparison’s sake: Directed by Michael Bay and starring Transformers: Age of Extinction’s Mark Wahlberg and Transformers franchise co-lead Josh Duhamel, Paramount’s Transformers: The Last Knight opened domestically with $44.7 million (Wed.–Sun. total: $68.5 million; or $80 million adjusted for inflation) from 4,069 locations in June 2017, ending its run with $130.2 million, in addition to a far stronger $475.3 million internationally.
Worldwide total: $605.4 million – a “solid” figure, though in all likelihood not solid enough to cover The Last Knight’s hefty $217 million production budget (again, in addition to associated marketing and distribution costs).
That may help to explain why the follow-up Transformers flick, Bumblebee, got a new director, Travis Knight, and a decidedly more modest production budget: $135 million. Starring Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, 2010) and John Cena, Bumblebee opened domestically with a mere $21.7 million from 3,550 locations in December 2018, ending its run with $127.2 million (or only slightly behind The Last Knight), in addition to (again) a decidedly stronger $340.8 million internationally.
Worldwide total: A likely lucrative $468 million.
The above figures show that Transformers: Rise of the Beasts easily beat Bumblebee’s opening weekend, but a direct weekend-to-weekend comparison to The Last Knight – like those you’ve seen in other outlets – would be dishonest, since the latter began blowing off box office steam on a Wednesday.
Here’s a fairer comparison: In its first seven days, Rise of the Beasts has taken in $80.6 million, while The Last Knight scored $78.9 million (or nearly $93 million once inflation is taken into account).
Now, for kindness’ sake, we’re not going to compare the opening weekend figure of Rise of the Beasts to those of Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($109 million in June 2009; no 3D-surcharge boost) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($97.9 million in June 2011). Remember: These are the actual dollar figures without any inflation adjustments.
Franchise for (some) foreigners
But what about the all-important overseas market?
Of course, we all know that without the international market (excluding Canada, which Hollywood studios consider a U.S. territory like Puerto Rico or Guam), there wouldn’t be a Transformers franchise, for that’s where the bulk of its box office dough is generated.
So, here’s the good news: Transformers: Rise of the Beasts opened with $110 million from 68 markets – or about $10 million more than some had been expecting.
And here’s the not-so-good news: Rise of the Beasts grossed an estimated $40 million in China; that’s the same country where The Last Knight opened with $119.7 million and Bumblebee with $57.9 million.
After China, Rise of the Beasts’ top international markets were Mexico (est. $7.3 million), Transformers-nuts Indonesia (making a rare appearance among the Top Five, with $5.3 million), Peru (where the movie was partly shot and another Top Five rarity, with $5 million), and South Korea ($4.4 million).
At the other end, Rise of the Beasts is an unqualified dud in France, the U.K./Ireland, and Germany: $3.8 million in each of the first two territories; $2 million in the third one. In Brazil – $3.4 million debut – things don’t look all that rosy either.
Excluding China, Rise of the Beasts opened with $70 million internationally, or about the same amount as The Last Knight in 41 markets (leaving out not only China but also inflation and currency exchange fluctuations). Bumblebee comparisons are inapplicable, as its international rollout was scattered over the course of three weekends.
Don’t be cruel
Again, it would be cruel to compare the international opening gross of Transformers: Rise of the Beasts to those of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($166.1 million) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($217 million). So we’re not going to do it.
Lastly – and most importantly – it remains unclear whether Rise of the Beasts will be able to recover its production, marketing, and distribution costs at the global box office.
This weekend, Andrés Muschietti’s The Flash will be the top movie worldwide, with an estimated $155–$165 million internationally and a far more modest $70 million domestically (four-day take, as Monday is a holiday for many in the U.S.). With much of its targeted audience headed to check out Ezra Miller as DC’s latest superhero, Rise of the Beasts is expected to gross a relatively modest $25–$30 million in the U.S. and Canada. (Deadline’s latest has it earning only $23.5 million over the four-day weekend.)
‘Diverse’ Transformers: Rise of the Beasts cast
Widely praised for its “diverse” cast, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts does indeed star a variety of CGI bots, notably Optimus Prime (voice: Peter Cullen), Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman), Scourge (Peter Dinklage), Mirage (Pete Davidson), Arcee (Liza Koshy), and Airazor (Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh [Everything Everywhere All at Once, 2022]).
In the bot-supporting cast: Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Luna Lauren Velez, Dean Scott Vazquez, Tobe Nwigwe, Sarah Stiles, and Leni Parker. Diverse names like Ramos, Fishback, Nwigwe, and Parker surely help to explain the movie’s relative success in places like China, Indonesia, and South Korea.
Admittedly, we haven’t taken the trouble to count the number of Rise of the Beasts (human) characters that are gay/bisexual/etc., over the age of 50, from a country other than the United States, and/or who speak a language other than English. But perhaps you have.
Based on Hasbro’s epic poem of the same name (kidding…) Transformers: Rise of the Beasts has no less than five credited screenwriters: Joby Harold (also screen story), Darnell Metayer, Josh Peters, Erich Hoeber, and Jon Hoeber. Michael Bay is one of the movie’s six producers – or nearly one for each bot.
Besides Mark Wahlberg, Josh Duhamel, Hailee Steinfeld, and John Cena, among the previous Transformers franchise actors are Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Isabel Lucas, Ramón Rodríguez, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz, Ken Jeong, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, and Frances McDormand.
Top Five movies: The Little Mermaid trailing Aladdin
For the record, rounding out the Top Five movies on last weekend’s domestic box office chart were:
- At no. 2, Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers, and Justin K. Thompson’s computer-animated superhero actioner Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse grossed $55.5 million (down 54 percent on its second weekend). Domestic cume: An impressive $252.6 million.* Worldwide: A less impressive (internationally speaking) $417.8 million.* Budget: $100 million. Voice cast: Shameik Moore and Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld.
- At no. 3, Rob Marshall’s romantic fantasy adventure The Little Mermaid grossed $23.2 million (down 44 percent on its third weekend). Domestic cume: $242 million* – thus falling further and further behind Aladdin, even without adjusting for inflation.† Worldwide: $427.6 million.* Cast: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, and two-time Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy.
- At no. 4, James Gunn’s superhero actioner Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 grossed $7.2 million (down 32 percent on its sixth weekend). Domestic cume: $339.4 million.* Worldwide: $810.1 million.* Cast: Chris Pratt and Zoe Saldana.
- At no. 5, Rob Savage’s supernatural horror thriller The Boogeyman grossed $7.2 million (down 42 percent on its second weekend). Domestic cume: $29 million.* Worldwide: $43.9 million.* Cast: Sophie Thatcher and Chris Messina. Budget: $35 million, making it a total commercial dud.
* Domestic and worldwide cumes up to June 15.
† After 21 days out in June 2019, Aladdin had raked in a total of $246.7 million (not adjusted for inflation) vs. The Little Mermaid’s $242 million.
“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Box Office: When ‘Solid’ Feels Wobbly” notes
Unless otherwise noted, “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Box Office: When ‘Solid’ Feels Wobbly” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Deadline.com, etc.).
Comments about Transformers: Rise of the Beasts and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).
Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).
Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.
Lastly, although a more accurate reflection of a film’s popularity (i.e., its number of tickets sold), inflation-adjusted estimates should be taken with extreme caution. For instance, they’re based on average domestic ticket prices (via the National Association of Theater Owners, unless otherwise noted) whereas numerous major releases scored a large chunk of their box office take at top-priced venues.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts movie images: Hasbro | Skydance Media | Paramount Pictures.
“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts Box Office: When ‘Solid’ Feels Wobbly” last updated in September 2023.