It was Miles Morales and the Spider-Verse versus the “Transformers” at the box office this weekend and the bots came out on top.
“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” the seventh entry in the series, took the No. 1 spot in its first weekend in North American theaters with $60.5 million according to studio estimates Sunday. “ Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse ” wasn’t too far behind, however, with an estimated $55.4 million in its second weekend.
Paramount Pictures released “Rise of the Beasts” in 3,678 locations starting with Thursday previews. Set in 1994, it’s technically a sequel to the 1980s-set “Bumblebee” and a prequel to the other films. With a new cast led by Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback and a new director in Steven Caple Jr., it’s also an attempt to reset and breathe fresh life into the $4.8 billion franchise.
“Rise of the Beasts” also earned $110 million from 68 international markets, giving it a $170.5 million global debut.
Critics didn’t love the movie, but that’s also par for the course for this franchise. Overall, Rotten Tomatoes aggregated a less-than-fresh 52% rating.
“The problem with “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” is the same problem faced by all of the installments — balancing the humanity with the metal,” wrote AP’s Mark Kennedy in his review.
In fact, the only movie that did get a fresh rating was “Bumblebee,” which also made the least money of all of them. Audiences (62% male) were more positive, giving “Rise of the Beasts” an A- CinemaScore. According to PostTrak surveys, general audiences gave it 4.5 stars out of 5.
While a $60.5 million opening might not seem like enough to support a $200 million production budget, “Rise of the Beasts” is a movie that will make most of its money abroad. Since 2011’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” international ticket sales have accounted for at least 70% of the global box office total. Two of the seven movies, “Dark of the Moon” and “Age of Extinction,” from 2014, made over $1 billion each.
“To have a No. 1 debut is impressive given the formidable competition from ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,’ which had a much stronger opening than anyone anticipated and in its second weekend is a really powerful player,” said Paul Dergarabedian, the senior media analyst for Comscore.
Sony’s “Spider-Verse” sequel fell about 54%. In just two weeks, it’s already surpassed the total domestic box office of the first film with $225.4 million in ticket sales and become the highest grossing Sony Pictures Animation release. With terrific reviews in its arsenal, “Spider-Verse” is likely destined for a longer life at the box office, too.
Third place went to Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” which earned $23 million in its third weekend, where it’s playing in 4,320 locations in the U.S. and Canada. The live-action movie has made $414.2 million globally to date.
Two other Walt Disney Co. releases rounded out the top five, with “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” in fourth with $7 million in its sixth weekend and “The Boogeyman,” in weekend two, in fifth place with $6.9 million.
While many of the films in the top 10 are known brands or IP, one original property, A24’s “ Past Lives,” is making waves in the specialty space. Playing on just 26 screens in its second weekend, Celine Song’s romance made $520,772 for a stunning $20,030 per screen average. It expands nationwide on June 23.
The summer movie season should continue to pick up heat with major new films coming nearly every week. Next weekend family audiences get Pixar’s “Elemental,” while the superhero crowd can catch up with “ The Flash.”
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” $60.5 million.
2. “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” $55.4 million.
3. “The Little Mermaid,” $22.3 million.
4. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” $7 million.
5. “The Boogeyman,” $6.9 million.
6. “Fast X,” $5.2 million.
7. “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” $2.1 million.
8. “About My Father,” $845,000.
9. “The Machine,” $575,000.
10. “Past Lives,” $520,772.
Subscribe to Well Adjusted, our newsletter full of simple strategies to work smarter and live better, from the Fortune Well team. Sign up today.