Transformers: Age of Extinction is set for its June 27 domestic bow as Michael Bay's fourth effort in the franchise aims to rekindle excitement with a new star in Mark Wahlberg, new heroes in the Dinobots, and a new logo to coincide with a slight shift in tone.
Audience tracking has so far indicated the sequel could open in the $90 million range (a recurring theme with four films having done so since April). Unfortunately, online enthusiasm is building at a slow pace. Extinction's Twitter activity is running 36 percent behind Godzilla at the same point before release, as well as 51 percent behind X-Men: Days of Future Past, and 63 percent behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Those are concerning signs for this kind of fan-heavy series.
Flixster anticipation is on par with the latter two films, while the movie's official Facebook page is adding new "likes" at a slower rate than any of those comparisons. On the plus side, Transformers boasts an incredible 31.7 million Facebook fans entering Tuesday, ranking among the highest of any franchise. However, that figure represents the overall brand's health rather than strict interest in this particular movie.
While May delivered a streak of strong openings from tip to toe, none of those films have sprouted notable legs outside of Maleficent and Neighbors. This could be an advantage for Age of Extinction as it looks to capitalize on what's been an atypical summer market. Still, franchise fatigue has recently proven its unfavorable effects on multiple series going beyond the three-movie mark as ticket buyers grow weary of sequel overload. The same looks to be the case for Transformers as the saga has shed some of the 2007 original's audience goodwill following sequels in 2009 and 2011. The glut of action movies this April and May is also softening upfront demand.
The news isn't entirely gloomy, though, as overseas returns are expected to give the pic a strong bottom line regardless of its North American outcome. China in particular should be a major driving force after the third entry, Dark of the Moon, posted over $165 million from the country three years ago. The current sequel's heavy production involvement in the Middle Kingdom should be a boon to its performance there.
In all, Moon grossed $765 million overseas (plus $352 million domestic) for a run over $1.1 billion. The calendar year for 2014 has yet to produce a billion-dollar global hit, but Transformers has been viewed as the favorite among early contenders to crack that particular nut. Still, reaching the ten-figure benchmark isn't as easy as it started to seem over the past few years, so that goal will probably hinge on whether or not Extinction can excel past $250 million domestically--and pre-release tracking will need to pick up soon if that's going to happen. Either way, Paramount is well-positioned to boast the world's highest-grossing movie this summer.
Stay tuned to BoxOffice for future updates on Transformers: Age of Extinction and more upcoming summer releases.