The box office discussion for almost the last month has largely been dominated by Warner Bros.' Aquaman and the wave it has rode to $1 billion. But Aquaman wasn't the only big release at the end of the year. While all the attention has been on the fishman, Paramount's Bumblebee is proving itself the little Beetle that could, quietly making a lot of money worldwide.
Over the weekend, the Transformers spinoff film once again led the international box office with $35.6 million. That includes $2.2 million from the Philippines where the film just debuted, as well as $1.3 million from the United Kingdom and $24.8 million from China. That brings Bumblebee's foreign haul up to $256.3 million.
Combined with its domestic box office, Bumblebee now stands at $364 million worldwide. This is despite never even sniffing around 1st place at the domestic box office. Even though Mary Poppins Returns, which has competed with Bumblebee since the beginning, has bested the Autobot every single weekend at the domestic box office, Bumblebee is the victor overall between the two thanks to its success overseas.
A worldwide box office of $364 million may not seem like much given the history of the Transformers franchise and all the talk of Aquaman's success, but it is quite impressive when viewed in context. The Transformers films have been on a downward trend domestically over the last two installments and 2017's Transformers: The Last Knight underperformed all of the previous Michael Bay-directed Transformers films, both domestically and worldwide.
Still, even though it didn't make the $1 billion plus that Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Transformers: Age of Extinction made, Transformers: The Last Knight made $605 million worldwide, a much bigger number than the $364 million Bumblebee has made to date. Yet despite selling far fewer tickets than those more massive films, Bumblebee also cost a lot less to make. In fact Bumblebee cost less than half of what some of the previous movies in the franchise ran, according to Variety.
So when you take those factors into account, Bumblebee's success looks far more impressive than $364 million might convey. Moreover, according to THR, Viacom's (Paramount's parent company) CEO recently said that Bumblebee is "solidly profitable" in contrast to The Last Knight, which lost over $100 million.
That's the key, really, because making $605 million isn't as good as it sounds when you're still losing $100 million because of the cost of the film's budget and advertising. Shareholders care about profit and in that regard, it sounds like Bumblebee has delivered.
It hasn't been a flashy supercar like its predecessors, but the Beetle also doesn't require a second mortgage when you need new brake pads. Bumblebee is proving to have great mileage at the box office, bringing in money week after week and that adds up. It isn't done either. Bumblebee opens in its final market, Japan, on March 22.
We'll have to wait and see if Bumblebee's success, both critically and commercially, influences the future of the franchise in any way.
Bumblebee is still in theaters if you haven't had a chance to check it out yet. For all of the big movies heading to theaters in 2019, take a look at our release schedule.