Injecting fresh energy into a becalmed market after a blockbuster-free five-week period with no film grossing £5m in a single frame, Transformers: Age of Extinction lands with a splashy £11.75m. That’s the biggest debut of the year, ahead of X-Men: Days of Future Past (£9.14m) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (£9.01m). The box-office drought occasioned by World Cup football is finally over.
Of course, it’s not as simple as that. With England’s early exit from the World Cup, Age of Extinction was booked to play previews more aggressively than originally envisioned, and has in fact been in cinemas continuously since 5 July. That means that a hefty six days of previews, totalling £8.04m, have been added into the official opening tally. Strip those out, and the action sequel in fact grossed just £3.71m over the Friday-to-Sunday play period (11-13 July).
Excluding previews from consideration, Age of Extinction is only the 10th biggest opening of the year, behind X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Lego Movie, Godzilla, 22 Jump Street, The Wolf of Wall Street, Mrs Brown’s Boys D’Movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Maleficent.
Including previews, Age of Extinction is the biggest-opening Transformers movie ever in the UK, ahead of Dark of the Moon (2011, £10.73m), Revenge of the Fallen (2009, £8.35m) and the original Transformers (2007, £7.26m). However, ignoring previews, it’s the lowest-grossing debut of the series so far. Going just by opening takings for Friday-to-Sunday, Dark of the Moon did £6.50m, Revenge of the Fallen £8.35m (ie there were no previews for that release) and Transformers £4.90m.
Age of Extinction is the second film this year to arrive in the chart with a nine-day opening frame, following Bad Neighbours in May. If a picture arrives on a Saturday, and is booked to play in cinemas without interruption thereafter, the argument that it has in fact opened, and is ready to be included in box-office tallies for that weekend, seems compelling.
Age of Extinction faces tough competition from the well-reviewed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes from this Thursday, so industry observers will be paying close attention to how it holds up this coming frame.