What’s the Secret of this Movie Which Earned $300 Million in 3 Days?

by Hugh Brownstone4 Comments

It is my pleasure to write a very short post introducing a longer, thoughtful one by Ben Kuchera and Chris Plante over at Polygon.

Because in the end, all of our efforts in filmmaking – even when we ARE gearheads — are about storytelling.

In this instance, they tell a story about the business side of filmmaking in an era of dramatic transition – not only in filmmaking, but in LIFE.

Kudos to both of them.

How does a ‘terrible' movie make $300 million in three days?

Transformers: Age of Extinction made $300 million in its first weekend of release. That number is insane, even by the standards of a Hollywood blockbuster, and shows the power of an international opening weekend.

The movie took in $90 million in China, an industry record. Not counting marketing spend, the movie has already made back its budget and will likely be profitable overall by next week if this pace continues.

terrible movie make 300 million in three days

The fourth Transformers movie is one of the biggest hits of the year. It's also one of the worst-reviewed movies of the year, with critics getting out their sharpest barbs to heap scorn on a film that's seen as loud, nonsensical and pandering. The reviews don't matter, though; the people who showed up and bought their ticket tell the story, especially overseas.

The importance of the Chinese market has become an interesting story when it comes to these films with huge budgets, and Chinese appeal is baked into the movie when possible. There was an entirely different cut of Iron Man 3 for China, and Paramount was careful to shoot part of Age of Extinction in China and to feature a high-profile Chinese actor. The Chinese audience was courted just as hard as the United States, and it paid off.

The larger the budget of your film, the more likely the studio will “ask” you to make it attractive to Chinese audiences. Wikipedia describes Age of Extinction as an “American-Chinese science fiction action film.”

There's a story here that's more interesting than “stupid people like stupid movies,” and that's what I'd love to explore. Why are these movies, which everyone seems to agree are terrible, such big hits? This isn't Pacific Rim, which was a fun, well-crafted movie that struggled to justify its budget while also making overtures to Chinese audiences; this is an example of one of the biggest film releases in the history of cinema. For a movie everyone claims to hate.

What's going on?

Read full story on Polygon's article “How does a ‘terrible' movie make $300 million in three days?”

Note: it is our policy to give credit as well as deserved traffic to our news sources – so we don't repost the entire article – sorry, I know you want the juicy bits, but I feel it is only fair that their site get the traffic and besides, you just might make a new friend and find an advertiser that has something you've never seen before

(cover photo credit: snap from Polygon)

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh Brownstone

Hugh is the founder of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions. He and the team write, direct, shoot, score, and edit web-centric films; conduct photo shoots; and write copy, white papers and blog posts. Hugh also writes screenplays (he recently optioned a TV pilot) and just published his first eBook (Apple's iPhone: The Next Video Revolution). If it's about telling stories, it's in their wheelhouse.

And always with the ambition of authenticity, humanity and wit.
Hugh Brownstone


  1. Wow, being a person who has worked on many hollywood films and television shows.. It never ceases to amaze me . How folks feel comfy , while writing scathing articles . On films made to entertain the masses. I understand that articles like these. Need a ” hook”. As in worst movie ever makes 300 mill…
    Is it really the worst movie ever ? And all those crew people ” probably 2 to 3 hundred or more . Counting post /efx. Just wasted their time and energy? Probably doing 80 hour weeks . And 36 hour weekends with their families. Was all for not ? I am not saying your write up was without merit . The tie in with china was good info , all though you probably dont know the other half of why shows are appealing to china.
    Anyhow . Keep in mind how many people forgo their family life and social ties , for months and years on end . Just hoping their work will entertain and lift the spirits of so many people .” Who in this seemingly hopeless period in history”. Just
    Want to relax and forget their cares and woes . And be dazzled .

  2. ChadVachter

    I mean in all fairness people who make films work hard…. I think that’s something we can agree on. 

    Though there are some people who are interested in making money, and others who are interested in creating art.  (and the good ones are usually looking to combine both art and commerce)

    So if you want to work on transformers (or conversely work for a – say – special fx company that would work on things like transformers) then that’s ultimately your choice no?

    When people criticize ‘films’ like this – it’s ultimately also their choice.  (I would assume it’s because there are so many resources being used to put out this ‘trash’ – i.e theatres, film crew, writers, actors, producers, etc. – that people get upset when these resources could be used to make ‘good’ films)

    In ending – Just because someone (or in this case, MANY people) work extremely hard to come together and create something, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s any good, or that it can’t be torn apart like the piece of garbage it is (hypothetically speaking)

  3. Hmmm. Well , 1st off i do not work for a special effects sub contractor . If that was your meaning .
    Secondly . If you are a champion of opinions .. Do only the opinions that match yours. Have a place in the sun ?
    You seem to have issues with mine .
    Theatre is art, Films are business and television is furniture. … A very well used saying in the entertainment world..
    You say ” good films ” …
    Box office revenue is by far a better judge of what the majority of movie goers enjoy. Or “want to see” .
    Rather than a small sect of people , who
    “Criticize ” things for a living.
    Lastly… I am not a champion of this or any Micheal Bay project . He is a person who treats people poorly .” Yelling and berating crews”.
    However , i was raised under the assumption that, a decent reasonable person will say little or nothing if they encounter something that they are not a fan of . But in this day and age. Many people go by a “self esteem by lowering companionship” type of operation .
    I personally find this to be a persons perogative or ” right” … Flipside… I also find this to be a cowardly choice. As i cannot imagine that these “critical types” would speak so venomously about the things they encounter . If those who worked on said films were present .
    You have your opinion .
    And i have mine .
    But i have no need of a coin toss to decide who i have a great deal of respect for. And who i find to be nauseating at best .

  4. ChadVachter Couldn’t agree more, you go and see these kinds of films to be entertained, not have to use your brain so much and escape reality.

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