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‘Transformers’ edge out ‘Spider-Verse’ to claim first place at box office

Three Walt Disney Co. releases rounded out the top five with “The Little Mermaid” in third place, “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″ in fourth and “The Boogeyman” in fifth place.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
This image released by Paramount Pictures shows Anthony Ramos in a scene from "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts."Photo Credit: Jonathan Wenk (AP)

It was Miles Morales and the Spider-Verse versus the Transformers at the box office this weekend and the bots came out on top.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, the seventh entry in the series, took the No. 1 spot in its first weekend in North American theaters with $60.5 million according to studio estimates Sunday. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse wasn’t too far behind, however, with an estimated $55.4 million in its second weekend.

Paramount Pictures released Rise of the Beasts in 3,678 locations starting with Thursday previews. Set in 1994, it’s technically a sequel to the 1980s-set Bumblebee and a prequel to the other films. With a new cast led by Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback and a new director in Steven Caple Jr., it’s also an attempt to reset and breathe fresh life into the $4.8 billion franchise.

Critics didn’t love the movie, but that’s also par for the course for this franchise. Overall, Rotten Tomatoes aggregated a less-than-fresh 52% rating.

The problem with Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is the same problem faced by all of the installments — balancing the humanity with the metal, wrote AP’s Mark Kennedy in his review.

In fact, the only movie that did get a fresh rating was Bumblebee, which also made the least money of all of them. Audiences were more positive, giving Rise of the Beasts an A- CinemaScore.

While a $60.5 million opening might not seem like enough to support a $200 million production budget, Rise of the Beasts is a movie that will make most of its money abroad. Since 2011′s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, international ticket sales have accounted for at least 70% of the global box office total. Two of the seven movies, Dark of the Moon and Age of Extinction, from 2014, made over $1 billion each.

Sony’s Spider-Verse sequel fell about 54%. In just two weeks, it’s already surpassed the total domestic box office of the first film with $225.4 million in ticket sales and become the highest grossing Sony Pictures Animation release. With terrific reviews in its arsenal, Spider-Verse is likely destined for a longer life at the box office, too.

Third place went to Disney’s The Little Mermaid, which earned $23 million in its third weekend, where it’s playing in 4,320 locations in the U.S. and Canada. The live-action movie has made $414.2 million globally to date.

Two other Walt Disney Co. releases rounded out the top five, with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 in fourth with $7 million in its sixth weekend and The Boogeyman, in weekend two, in fifth place with $6.9 million.

The summer movie season should continue to pick up heat with major new films coming nearly every week. Next weekend family audiences get Pixar’s Elemental, while the superhero crowd can catch up with The Flash.

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