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Michael Bay’s Transformers: The Last Knight hit theatres this weekend and, unsurprisingly, it’s been about as well-received as a wet fart in a fresh new pair of tighty whiteys. If you’re familiar with any of the series’ entries until now, you know what to expect: convoluted nonsensical plots, explosions, and robots. On paper,it’s a recipe for awesome sauce; under the guidance of Michael Bay, the Autobots and Decepticons have been turned into giant turds.
That said, the series has been mightily successful and that’s why they keep making them. We might not know anybody who likes them, but clearly plenty of people do if the numbers are anything to go by. Well, that was until this weekend, where the new movie opened to an underwhelming $69.1 million in North America.
This is the first film in the series not to clear $100 million mark in North America over the initial five-day opening; therefore, the fate of the series rests on how it performs overseas. Fortunately for Paramount, the film opened to a worldwide gross of $196.2 million to make for a total gross $265.3 million.
The film, which cost $217 million to make, will need to at least double its production budget to make its money back. While it probably will reach that sum and sell a lot of merchandise because kids love robot toys, it does cast a Cyberton-sized shadow over the franchises’ future.
Will they need to start making better movies to put more asses in seats?
Last month, Bay told MTV that there are plans for much more Transformers films. “There are 14 stories written and there’s good stuff,” he revealed. That’s a lot of movies to plan ahead with, but considering that the franchise has been a massive cash cow until now, it’s hardly surprising that they want to milk it for all its worth.
Bay has also stated that while The Last Knight will be his last time behind the camera (we’ve heard that before), before contradicting himself by declaring his interest to return for a future instalment down the line. “I would like to do one of them though – a Transformers spin-off.” he told MTV.
First off, let me clarify by saying that I don’t hate Michael Bay. I even wrote a piece defending him and I stand by every word. Even though most people involved in the pop culture discourse seem to loathe these movies, the reality is that plenty of folks do enjoy them and keep handing over their hard-earned bucks to see them. Maybe we’re just not the audience for this series?
That said, it’s going to be hard to justify a long-running universe if it’s not going to be a sound financial investment for Paramount, who really can’t be risking any more future flops.
As much as I haven’t enjoyed the live-action Transformers movies so far, I’d hate to see it go. There’s no denying that there’s a lot of potential here, and if Bay moves on to new pastures, maybe we’ll see the transformation it needs to appeal to more people.
Remember those characters we grew up caring about watching the old Saturday morning cartoons and 1986 animated movie? That spirit can be translated to big budget Hollywood blockbusters under the right visionary director. Call me crazy, but I’m sure of it; the Fast and the Furious franchise was given a tune-up after all, and now the series is a big summer spectacle most of us look forward to.
If Bay does indeed step away from the series for awhile as planned, I’d be interested to see how other – and hopefully better – filmmakers approach them. With a Bumblebee spin-off recently announced, there is an opportunity there to revitalise things, start fresh and maybe even find hope again.
It’s easy to be cynical about this franchise. Nobody can blame you for wanting to see it sent to the scrap heap. But I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes with Bay away from the director’s chair. I’m also excited to see what Bay does next as well, because the dude can make good movies.
Where do you stand on the Transformers movies?