'Transformers' turns into box office behemoth with $100 million opening

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[June 30, 2014] By Ronald Grover and Chris Michaud

 LOS ANGELES/NEW YORK (Reuters) - "Transformers: Age of Extinction," the fourth in the series of films about form-changing Autobot robots that save the planet, powered up with $100 million in box office sales, jump-starting a sleepy summer with the year's biggest opening weekend.

"22 Jump Street," starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, was second with $15.4 million in its third week in theaters, according to studio estimates. Animated film "How to Train Your Dragon 2" took the No. 3 spot with sales of $13.1 million for the Friday through Sunday period at U.S. and Canadian theaters.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" stars Mark Wahlberg in his first outing taking on the evil Dinobots. The series' three previous installments, starring Shia LeBeouf, generated nearly $2.7 billion in worldwide sales, according to Box Office Mojo.

"It's just a spectacular result," said Don Harris, president of domestic theatrical distribution for Paramount.

The film took in more than $200 million overseas, an indication of "what a beloved franchise this is worldwide," Harris added, crediting director Michael Bay who helmed all four installments.
 


"Transformers" added another $10.7 million on domestic IMAX screens and $16.6 million internationally.

Made for more than $200 million, the film pits Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and other Autobots against new villains. It met industry projections for its opening weekend.

The nearly three-hour movie garnered mostly poor reviews, with only 17 percent of 121 critics giving it a "fresh" rating, according to the site Rotten Tomatoes, but ticket buyers gave the film an A- rating according to polling service CinemaScore.

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Prior to the opening of "Transformers," summer ticket sales had lagged last year by 15 percent, according to the box office tracking site Rentrak, when blockbusters such as "Iron Man 3," "Monsters University," and "Fast & Furious 6" drove ticket sales.

Last weekend's box office leader "Think Like a Man Too," a comedy starring Kevin Hart based on TV personality Steve Harvey's book "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man," was fourth with $10.4 million.

"Maleficent," Walt Disney Co's revision of its 1959 movie "Sleeping Beauty" starring Angelina Jolie as a spell-casting evil fairy, rounded out the top five with $8.2 million and has totaled more than $200 million since opening on May 30.

"Transformers: Age of Extinction" was distributed by Paramount, a unit of Viacom Inc. Sony Corp released "22 Jump Street" and "Think Like a Man Too."

(Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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