On Tuesday evening, Paramount unleashed the first trailer for Michael Bay's Transformers: Age of Extinction. Online fans have been awaiting a full preview of the sequel, particularly since the initial glimpse of the movie during last month's Super Bowl. The trailer made the sequel responsible for a healthy 27,149 mentions on Twitter within its first day.
Compared to recent trailer debuts, that figure--while strong overall--isn't earth-shattering. Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy trailer spawned 47,419 tweets in its first half-day on February 18, followed by another 50,239 one day later. Warner Bros.' newest Godzilla trailer generated a whopping 60,102 tweets on February 25.
While no entirely direct correlation can be made between these numbers, the fact that Age of Extinction's trailer isn't eliciting quite as much online excitement as the other two speaks to the fact that some franchise fatigue has set in. This is expected for a series that both fans and general audiences feel to have peaked with the first movie seven years ago. It does, however, underline the growing reality that this coming summer's domestic box office crown is up for grabs by a handful of contenders (a topic we'll be covering more closely as May approaches).
2011's Transformers: Dark of the Moon saw North American grosses dip to $352 million (still an impressive figure) after the first sequel, Revenge of the Fallen, earned $402 million two years prior. Factoring in Moon's addition of 3D prices, the third film lost about one-quarter of its predecessor's audience.
Comparable audience trends include those of Pirates of the Caribbean, Shrek, and Spider-Man, all of which saw their third and fourth entries earn progressively less as they became overexposed and/or failed to deliver the qualities audiences liked about earlier episodes. Each of those series fell below the $300 million domestic line with their respective fourth films (a first for any of the nine combined films, save for the original Shrek's $268 million). That's a fate Paramount will actively try to avoid with Transformers. Bringing Mark Wahlberg aboard and giving his fictional family rural Middle American roots are encouraging first steps toward that goal.
Overseas appeal could balance out a potential domestic drop-off, though. Dark of the Moon delivered the brand's strongest returns yet with over $771 million earned internationally. Its $146 million Chinese take remains one of the best runs ever in the Middle Kingdom. Age of Extinction will prominently feature China thanks to a significant portion of filming having taken place there, as well as the casting of stars Li Bingbing and Han Geng, so we can safely expect another mammoth performance in that country.
The fourth entry in the franchise features an entirely new cast of human characters, led by Wahlberg, and is set for domestic release on June 27. The film's global release begins June 26 with notable countries such as Brazil and the United Kingdom opting for a mid-July release, in part so as not to compete with the 2014 World Cup (June 12-July 13).
As its release draws near, check back for a full analysis of what to expect from Transformers: Age of Extinction.
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