Transformers a 'mindless, incoherent' . . . hit
Critics might be savaging Transformers: Age of Extinction, but it's not stopping its box office assault, with Michael Bay's latest even tagged called a ''game-changer'' after a record-breaking pull in China.
The fourth instalment of the Transformers franchise has been called ''migraine-inducing'', ''brain-freezing'', ''incoherent'' and ''punishingly long''.
But despite these bad raps, the film still topped 37 markets and earned US$300 million worldwide in its opening weekend.
Around US$100 million of that came from the US, while the action flick also took US$90 million in China, the country's biggest weekend debut for an international movie.
In Australia it became the highest opening weekend of 2014 with a final tally of over AUD$10 million.
It's well-established the Chinese market is increasingly important, but as IMAX Chief Executive Greg Foster told TheWrap, this result is a ''game changer''.
''We live in a global world and this shows beyond a doubt that China is knocking on that door.''
In the past few years, films have been picking up on the role China could play.
Australian-Singaporean shark horror flick Bait was critically panned here, but chomped up more than $20 million in less than two weeks in China.
Chinese sources also reportedly contributed $5 million to its $25 million budget.
Meanwhile, Skyfall was set partly in Shanghai, the filmmakers behind Looper did a deal and rewrote part of its script so it could be set in China, Cloud Atlas was an US-Chinese co-production, and Chinese actress Fan Bingbing was cast in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
But Transformers: Age of Extinction aimed from the start to resonate across the world, and in China in particular.
Aside from casting Chinese actress Li Bingbing, it staged a reality TV show to cast four people in roles and also features Asian superstar Han Geng.
It also brought on CCTV's China Movie Channel and Jiaflix Enterprises as co-producers and amid the movie's rampant product placement are Chinese products, including a carton of milk Stanley Tucci's character sips during the chaos.
Paramount's head of distribution Don Harris told TheWrap: ''I think it's become clear that studios can't afford to make movies of this scope without planning for them to be successful worldwide, and especially in China''.