‘Bumblebee’ Buzzes Past $400M WW – What’s Next For The Autobots

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount’s Bumblebee is buzzing past the $400M mark worldwide today. The Transformers origins story has revved up $401.3M global, including $113.9M domestic and $287.4M at the international box office through Saturday. Japan, which has been a solid play for the franchise, is the last market to bow, on March 22, meaning there’s further fuel in the VW Bug’s tank.

Helmed by Travis Knight, the well-received picture reboots the Transformers series with humor and an emotional connection that’s been fed by great word of mouth. There’s a sequel in development (might that mean a Bumblebee/Optimus Prime buddy movie?). Before that, there’s an animated movie in the works and future iterations of the overall Transformers series that may introduce new characters and bring others along.

With Bumblebee, producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura says, “We had many objectives (including) to bring a new set of families into the series, and that succeeded; in the after markets that will continue to succeed in a big way. Part of our obligation was to bring people back who had left the franchise or never experienced it which worked well… We are finding our way. Our intention was we wanted to please the core fans but also bring a new audience.”

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Rounding out the Top 5 behind China through Saturday are the UK ($14.1M), Korea ($12M), Mexico ($11.3M) and Indonesia ($11M). Bumblebee was made for a wider demo than the rest of the franchise, on a lower budget (est $135M) than its stablemates and will be profitable.

The last two films in the franchise did best in China, although last year’s Last Knight was notably down on the previous pic, Age Of Extinction. Bumblebee, on January 4, swept into the Middle Kingdom this year and has grossed $130M through today. Although there were eight new films releasing this weekend, the Bug is holding No. 1. With Chinese New Year not kicking off until February 5, that potentially puts the Autobot in the realm of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon which finished at $165M in unadjusted figures in 2011 (and when revenue splits for the studios were lower). Bumblebee also has an extension to play through Chinese New Year, a 7.2 Douban score and Tencent Pictures as an investor and co-marketing partner in China.

Domestically, the Hailee Steinfeld-starrer is expected to final close to last year’s The Last Knight which did $130.1M. There, it has an A- CinemaScore and 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. Around the time of release during the Christmas frame, RelishMix noted superfans agreed Bumblebee “is the Transformers movie they’ve been waiting and yearning for, which means a more authentic look at some of their favorite characters and dosing down of the super-action in previous, Michael Bay-directed chapters.”