When “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” opens on June 9th, there’s a lot on the line. It’s one of just three major theatrical releases for Paramount this summer, joining “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” (July 12th) and animated “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” (August 2nd).
The modern day “Transformers” motion picture saga began with 2007’s breakout hit, directed by Michael Bay. It earned more than $700 million worldwide, so Paramount and Bay had to work quickly to get a sequel out in just two years. Unfortunately 2009’s “Revenge of the Fallen” was TERRIBLE — and the finale of the pairing of Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. But it made more money ($836M globally). So this series wasn’t ending anytime soon.
2011’s “Dark of the Moon”, which was set in Chicago (also the city I screened it in), featured Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the female lead role. It made $1.1 Billion worldwide. So did 2014 reboot “Age of Extinction”, with Mark Wahlberg taking over top billing. But the domestic gross was the lowest of the franchise so far, at $245 million.
Wahlberg and Bay returned three years later for 2017’s AWFUL “The Last Knight”, which earned just $130 million in North America. Worldwide total was down too, at $605M. It seemed like the momentum was pretty much over, but a year and a half later came Hailee Steinfeld and John Cena’s spinoff “Bumblebee”, directed by LAIKA’s Travis Knight. It nearly matched “The Last Knight”’s domestic cume ($127M), but only made $340M overseas, for a $468M total.
It’s been four and a half years. Is a new generation of moviegoers ready and excited for “Rise of the Beasts”? And what about all those who have watched the previous “Transformers” chapters (suffering through most of them)? Will they be open to *another* reboot of the brand on the big screen?
“Rise of the Beasts” is directed by Steven Capale, Jr., of 2018’s “Creed II”. It has new leads in Anthony Ramos (“In the Heights”) and Dominique Fishback (“Judas and the Black Messiah”), plus Pete Davidson, Ron Perlman and Michelle Yeoh in voice roles. I hope it’s a fun installment… and the best one since the original. And I predict it will at least make more money, both domestically and overseas, than “The Last Knight” and “Bumblebee”.
How close will it get to the others? That’s still a little up in the air. With WB’s “The Flash” opening the very next Friday (June 16th), repeat business for “Transformers” might not be until its third weekend, the 4th of July holiday, or even later in the summer. (It will likely be paired with “Mission: Impossible” at many Drive-Ins around the country.)