Everyone has been hoping for Transformers: Age Of Extinction to pull the summer out of its box office flatline, and while it will be No. 1 this weekend, with a 2:45 minute play time and a huge budget (around $180M with another $140M+ for marketing ww) and with director Michael Bay getting 10% FDG and others like Mark Wahlberg and Steven Spielberg getting high participations as well, Paramount Pictures needs this one to blow the lid off. Image (8) box_office_weekend_3202008-12-22-1229966765__111124053707-150x150.jpg for post 735558Even toymaker Hasbro has gross participation (I hear maybe 5%). Will it be a $100M weekend? It certainly looked like it in its tracking earlier. Now, it depends. Its late night opening starts at 9 PM. If this movie doesn’t break $100M, it may take until November when we see a $100M weekend when Mockingjay opens from Lionsgate. Gulp. However, if it takes in $50M over the two days, it should easily get to or pass $100M. I would hope so as it’s in around 4,200 theaters and … get this … on 10,000 screens.

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen also opened the weekend before July 4th in 2009. It grossed $62M on a Wednesday (included previews) and $30M on Thursday and by the end of the three day it had tallied $108.9M; the five-day was $200M. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon opened June 29 in 2011, had a $43M opening (included previews) and ended the three-day with $97.8M; in six days it grossed about $180M.

The unaided awareness for this fourth installment of the franchise is impressive but the studio kept the movie from critics until last night, so they know what they got (or don’t) and unfortunately, they are now heading into the weekend with bad reviews and only 24% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (it slid overnight). Ewww and at 6 p.m., it’s down again to 113%. Yikes. Oh well, didn’t seem to hurt the last ones, though, did it. Then there’s some adult themes and language in this PG-13 rated film which I understand plays younger at the first half and older in the second half as the movie plot turns. Some who have seen it blanched, saying that they can’t imagine parents would be too thrilled with their young kids seeing and hearing some of what goes on in it. I don’t know, seems (sadly) that society is immune to it all anymore.

Flaming Optimus Prime - New International Transformers 4 Age of Extinction Movie Poster__scaled_600Paramount is smartly opening in international markets and will be exclusively on IMAX in Russia and will have a record of those same big-formats in China with around 150 and in the U.S. it will be on 353 IMAX screens … Bay used the 4K 3D cameras to film this installment. So the strategy is clearly hit hard in as many territories as possible — it’s opening in 37 markets which represents 60% of the international marketplace — and report the biggest gross they can and hope that with audiences will keep it afloat through the July 4th holiday. The question is what word-of-mouth will be and we will have some indication of that tomorrow night when the CinemaScore comes in. One kind of cool element is that the first 4D tech for features launches tonight via South Korean company CJ 4DPlex. Moviegoers can go to the 10:30 PM Regal Cinemas’ L.A. Live Stadium 14 theater for an interactive experiences that includes special effects from motion to fog, to scents and lighting. Yes, even wind (the good kind).

Tickets sales are boding well. Fandango said that Transformers is outpacing all previous Transformers movies at the same point in its sales cycle and is selling similarly to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Godzilla and X-Men: Days Of Future Past. MovieTickets.com reports that its sales for Transformers: Age Of Extinction are 96.6% higher than sales for the 2011 release of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon at the same point in the pre-sales cycle.

Okay, onto the other films. It’s going to be close call for the No. 2 and 3 spots this weekend between Think Like A Man Too in its second weekend and 22 Jump Street in its third weekend vying for those spots, each looking around mid-teen and I wouldn’t count out How to Train Your Dragon 2 as that been performing the strongest mid-week, higher that either of the previously mentioned two films. Jersey Boys is playing okay during the week and is the only new offering for adults.