We’re getting into the period of the summer movie season when there are so many new movies being released back-to-back, we’re going to start to see some cannibalizing of theaters. Read on for Gold Derby’s box office preview.
Sony’s animated sequel “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” did so well last weekend, some might wonder how much room there is for another franchise sequel, with Paramount Pictures’ “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” being released into roughly 3,600 or more theaters on Friday.
Similar to 2018’s “Bumblebee” spin-off, “Rise of the Beasts” marks a change for the franchise, since it’s only the second live-action “Transformers” movie not directed by Michael Bay (who remains on as a producer). Coming on board to direct is Steven Caple Jr, who directed “Creed II” in 2018.
The primary human cast for the movie is Anthony Ramos from “A Star is Born,” “In the Heights,” and “Hamilton,” and Dominique Fishback (“Judah and the Black Messiah”), with Ramos playing soldier Noah Diaz, who discovers the world of the Autobots as they search for the Transwarp Key, which can help return them to their home planet. Also trying to find the key is the evil “Terrorbot” Scourge (voiced by Peter Dinklage), who wants to use the key to bring the world-eating God Unicron to earth. The voice cast also includes Pete Davidson as the voice of Autobot Mirage, and Ron Perlman and recent Oscar winner Michelle Yeoh as two of the “beastly” Maximals, who help Autobot leader Optimus Prime (as always, voiced by Peter Cullen) find the key.
For fans of the series, bringing Unicron and his Terrorbots into the mix, as well as the Maximals (essentially, the “Beasts” of the title), will be reason alone to see the movie, but for younger moviegoers, “Rise of the Beasts” acts as a great introduction to the Transformers. Let’s face it, the combination of high-speed cars and giant fighting robots is an undeniable draw for boys of all ages, which is what has sustained the franchise for nearly four decades.
That said, there are problems facing “Rise of the Beasts,” the first one potentially being franchise fatigue from the most diehard fans. Michael Bay’s five movies have grossed over $4 billion worldwide, but 2017’s “Transformers: The Last Knight” only opened with $44 million, less than half the opening of all but the first “Transformers” movie. That opened with $70.5 million over the 4th of July in 2007 but went on to gross $319.2 million domestic (and more than twice that amount globally).
Its 2009 sequel, “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” opened over $100 million and grossed more than $400 million, so that Paramount knew it had a reliable franchise under Bay… until they didn’t. The poor showing for Bay’s “The Last Knight,” only grossing $130 million domestic and $600 million globally, seemed to point to the aforementioned franchise fatigue, and though “Bumblebee” (starring no less than Hailee Steinfeld) received some of the franchise’s best reviews – all of Bay’s movies were trashed by critics – it didn’t fare much better at the box office.
That puts quite an onus on “Rise of the Beasts” and its new director, although reviews should generally be positive even from the film critics who are normally quite cynical about these movies.
Normally, a “Transformers” movie would be released in IMAX, Dolby and onto other premium screens, which would help boost ticket prices, but those screens are mostly taken up by “Across the Spider-Verse” and even “The Little Mermaid” due to deals made by other studios. On the 16th, two more movies will grab those screens. (“Rise of the Beasts” is at least getting a 3D release, though.)
Due to these factors, it’s very likely “Rise of the Beasts” might struggle to even make $50 million this weekend, and if that is the case, it will have to settle for second place behind “Spider-Verse,” which will have a significant drop but should still end up making more than $50 million based on reactions and word-of-mouth.
The other movie getting a moderately wide release is Blue Fox Entertainment’s “Mending the Line,” starring Brian Cox (“Succession”) and Sinqua Walls and directed by Joshua Caldwell. In the drama, Walls plays a Marine wounded in Afghanistan sent to a V.A. facility in Montana where he learns to fly fish from Cox as another veteran.
As far as limited releases, there’s two from Magnolia Pictures: Mary Harron‘s “Daliland,” starring Sir Ben Kingsley as the eccentric abstract artist, Salvador Dali, and Georgia Oakley‘s “Blue Jean,” an appropriately-timed British period drama set in the Thatcher-run ’80s about a closeted gay teacher (Rosy McEwen) in danger of having her sexuality exposed.
That’s it for this week. Check back on Sunday to see how the movies did this weekend, and don’t forget to play Gold Derby’s box office prediction game and place your Super Bets wisely.