Why Do The Transformers Movies Keep Making So Much Money?
In 2014, Transformers: Age of Extinction was the top earner at the international box office at over a billion dollars, with $245 million of that in domestic sales.
Quick trivia question! What film made the most money at the domestic box office in 2014? Trust me, unless you've been scrolling through Box Office Mojo (not that I do that regularly or anything...) only to stare at the answer with the most confused look ever on your face, you probably don't know.
Who knew, right?
Anyway, Transformers. Critics were split 50/50 on the first Michael Bay Transformers film in 2007 (it currently stands at a 57% on Rotten Tomatoes), and as a high schooler, that movie was my jam. But each film since has been slaughtered by critics, with a slight reprieve given to the third film in the franchise, which was so markedly better than the second that it was given a little leeway by comparison.
The second film in the Transformers franchise was assembled during the 2007-2008 writers' strike that infamously threw the television world into chaos and kneecapped the current iteration of the James Bond franchise. So, it is to be expected that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, parts of which even Michael Bay admitted were "crap", would be the worst critically received film in the franchise, right?
Wrong. In a photo finish, Transformers 2, with a 19% on Rotten Tomatoes, outdoes both Transformers 4 (17%) and Transformers 5 (18%), which is opening in theaters this weekend.
So why do people keep going to see these movies? While it is worth mentioning that the domestic take has decreased with each new release since the second, $245 million is nothing to sneeze at. And the international sales have been on the rise. What is it about these movies that keeps bringing movie audiences back for more?
It certainly isn't the care and attention given to the film by the director. There is a moment in Transformers: Age of Extinction showing security screens. More than one is just a blank green screen clearly meant to have been filled in during post. It just never happened.
And I think we can all agree it isn't the nuanced storytelling or the three-dimensional characters. For those of you unfamiliar with film and story structure, screenwriters generally write in a three-act structure -- the setup, the confrontation and the resolution. I'm fairly positive that Transformers: Age of Extinction had at least five. And Megan Fox's character was so easy to replace between the second and third film, because, after two films spent with her, we were still as emotionally detached as we were from the first moment we met her.
So is it nostalgia? For many, Transformers was a childhood staple, with a successful toy line and cartoon which ran from 1984 to 1987. It is certainly worth noting that, of the films that finished in the top ten, both domestically and internationally, in 2016, only movies made for children were not connected to an already existing property. So, maybe it's nostalgia.
Or is it the special effects? One thing can be said for Michael Bay: he can make a beautiful shot. Despite being unable to tell who the good guys and bad guys are during a fight scene and who's shooting at who and why that random building exploded, the Transformers movies are generally really good looking pieces of film.
So what is it about these movies that keeps people coming back for more? We will see on Monday morning when the box office numbers for the latest film roll in if Michael Bay did it again, or if audiences have finally had enough. So what do you think? Are you excited for the latest in the Transformers franchise? Or are you just planning to see Wonder Woman for the fourth time?