Here we are again, analyzing the future of this beloved franchise of ours through boring old numbers. You may recall that we recently had a debate about the success of some of the films in the Bayverse vs. “Bumblebee”. This gave us a rather tragic number: $456 million. That is the total box office number (so far) for Travis Knight’s now-reboot 1980s film. While almost a third of what the most successful film in the franchise made worldwide, it’s “only” (and I use this term loosely) $200 million behind “The Last Knight”.
You may recall that we figured releasing the film was akin to sports book online: it could have gone well, or it could have gone like it did. Sadly, it did not go so well and showed, for the first time ever, the importance of the international market in a Transformers movie. In particular, it showed the importance of the Chinese market. You see, almost $170 million of the total $456 million came from China. Proportionally speaking, that’s 37% of its total earnings. Without the Chinese market income, the film would have barely doubled its budget at the box office.
What does that mean for the franchise? We’ve long known that Paramount and Hasbro banked more and more heavily on the Chinese market as the series moved forward. But it never really made enough of a difference for films that were successful on their own in other markets. “Bumblebee”, however, crippled by that (arguably idiotic) release window, was almost literally saved by China, ensuring that we’ll get a fresh take on the series (and hopefully, a better marketing strategy, too). American casino sites will be taking bets, I’m sure, as to whether we’ll see another holiday-season release. The truth is, however, that considering the juggernaut that is Disney, with both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars franchise, Paramount needs to re-think their position in the market and be smarter about releasing future Transformers films.
At the end of the day, however, a decade-long run for a director behind a franchise is good in anybody’s book. Whatever your feelings are about Michael Bay’s rendition of the Transformers universe, it helped catapult the franchise into worldwide recognition and revived a semi-dormant IP. It is, however, time to pass on the torch, and I think Travis Knight’s “Bumblebee” is a perfect stepping stone upon which to build the future of our Cybertronian friends.