There are times when speaking quickly is a good thing, such to stop the execution of an innocent man, or if you’re the Micro Machines guy. But I may have put my foot in my mouth the other day when reporting that Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction fell short of a $100 million weekend, as Paramount’s official numbers pushed the final total to $100,038,000. (Give or take several pennies.) That’s quite noticeably higher than the $97.5 million estimates that were reached on Sunday, and so there are some out there who think Paramount padded its earnings to officially stand alone as the only film this year with a $100 million opening.
As one studio head put it, “They’re lying,” before questioning the number jump. Do audiences actually care if this (or any other movie) reaches a $100 million weekend for the first time in 2014? Personally, all I wanted out of Transformers: Age of Extinction was something worth the money I paid for it, and that definitely didn’t happen. So I’m the guy actually hoping that Paramount is full of shit and that they get caught inflating totals. There’s got to be a robot out there that’s meant to do that, right? Com…puterbot?
According to Yahoo insiders, Paramount employees are under scrutiny and there are many who might have lost their jobs had Transformers not brought in over $100 million. That would make a little more sense than doing it just for pride’s sake — I guess — but it’s still not a good reason. Maybe one of those employees should have been the one to say, “You know, if you knock at least 45 minutes off of this movie, you’ll be able to pack more screenings into theaters and earn the money legitimately. Plus, you won’t have quite as many people complaining about living in a world where hundreds of people die of starvation in the runtime of a goddamned $210 million-budgeted Transformers movie.”
Maybe someone was just embarrassed that Transformers: Age of Extinction didn’t seem to match up to this guy’s last two efforts.
Whatever their reasons, Paramount is sticking to their story in the face of Hollywood execs who are calling foul. And if anyone thinks that everyone else is just being jealous or something, the more realistic earnings were calculated by the analytics company Rentrak, which has a near-perfect track record. As one studio head put it:
There was a time you could do this. But today, Rentrak is so good and so sophisticated that they picked up everything but about 100 theaters and what they don’t pick up is the little guys. If you take the per-screen-average and multiply it by the number, it comes to a little over $97 million. They are saying that the missing factor on those theaters were three times the national average. It’s not real.
Do you guys think they’re guilty of fudging the numbers? Let us know in the comments while I go and make some fudge.