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‘Transformers’ Box Office Success a ‘Lie,’ Say Insiders

Early this morning, Paramount Pictures announced that Transformers: Age of Extinction had a successful record-breaking opening weekend with over $100 million in box office receipts, but now industry insiders are calling into question the final estimates released by the studio.

Deadline is reporting that Transformers: Age of Extinction, the fourth film in the popular Transformers franchise, is being overvalued by the studio and that, based on estimates of ticket sales taken each day this past weekend, there is no way the film made $100 million dollars. Rentrak, an independent auditor for box office numbers, tracked Transformers: Age of Extinction all weekend and the numbers they projected had the film coming in at $97.5 to $98 million range, below the magic $100 million number.

Distributors and studios alike are questioning Paramount’s fuzzy numbers. As stated in the Deadline article:

“‘I don’t care what they report, if they want to lie go ahead. I’d like to lie and say we did better numbers than we did, but I can’t,’ said a distribution head. ‘What they’ll probably do is shave a couple of million off the mid-week number and then pad it out. I do think it’s a little crazy that they are stretching like this.’ What that means is that Paramount would under-report grosses a little bit each morning during the mid-week to make up the differences so they have an accurate and correct number down the road. The $100.038M gross will affect the following weekend’s three-day percentage drop also because it will be set against the $100.038M (assuming they report accurately next weekend).”

This issue here isn’t in the allegedly fudged $2 million dollar difference in box office totals, it’s in the fact that Paramount is a publicly traded company and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has rules when it comes to accurate reporting. From the Deadline article:

“‘I don’t know what they are doing. There is no way they could reach that number looking at the numbers I have sitting in front of me,’ said another distribution head at another public company. And therein lies the rub: These are public companies and under SEC guidelines regulating disclosure requirements for publicly-held companies, Paramount must put forth true and accurate numbers to the public and its shareholders.”

Paramount stands by their numbers. A Paramount spokeswoman said:

“We reported our number based on the estimates we received from the theaters this morning. This is our final number.”

Box office reporting is not an exact science, as explained by Box Office Mojo, and final numbers could be tweaked mid-week once hard data is presented.

Regardless of the opening weekend totals domestically, Transformers: Age of Extinction scored well overseas, where it racked up over $302 million dollars worldwide, according to Forbes. If Deadline is correct and Paramount did in fact inflate their numbers domestically, that final number for the opening weekend will hover around the $300 million mark. Not bad for a film that ratings aggregate Rotten Tomatoes scores at only 16 percent positive.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is directed by Michael Bay and stars Mark Wahlberg and Nicola Peltz.