‘Transformers’ to prove itself far from extinct

ScreenerBlog

Only one major release opens this weekend, and it’s a behemoth: Transformers: Age of Extinction. The fourth installment in the lucrative Transformers franchise is shooting for a $100 million debut – domestically, that is. The film also bows in Russia, Australia, China, and several other Asian territories today. Thanks to the World Cup, however, Paramount has decided not to release the film everywhere, holding it back from several international markets until futbol fever cools down.

Once it has been unleashed on the world in its full, Michael Bay-orchestrated glory, Extinction has some rather high expectations to meet. The last Transformers, 2011’s Dark of the Moon, earned an absurd $1.12 billion worldwide. It opened to $97.9 million domestically. Many pundits believe Extinction will at least surpass the debut enjoyed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the movie which, with its $95 million haul, currently boasts the strongest domestic opening weekend of 2014. Extinction certainly needs to open very, very well if it hopes to begin recouping its $200 million production costs.

Will the cumulative appeal of its all-new cast be enough to lure the requisite number of viewers? Out is former franchise star Shia LaBeouf; in is the likable if much older Mark Wahlberg. Co-stars include newcomers Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor, who, if everything goes according to plan, won’t be unknowns after tonight. Right now, pre-sales for Transformers: Age of Extinction indicate the film is on track to open as expected, to the tune of $100 million.

But if, on the off-chance and in the immortal words of Anchorman’s Brick Tamland, “Loud Noises!” aren’t your thing, the specialty box office offers several alternatives. The latest from John Carney, the director behind surprise indie hit Once, also opens today. Begin Again stars Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo as a singer and has-been record exec, respectively, who record beautiful music together in and around NYC. The significantly darker Snowpiercer, starring Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, and French biopic Yves Saint Laurent, also bow today.