NEW YORK — The hulking machines of "Transformers" are no longer box-office behemoths in North America. But they're still big in China.
Michael Bay's "Transformers: The Last Knight," the fifth installment in the Hasbro series, scored a franchise-low domestic debut with an estimated $43.5 million in ticket sales over the weekend and a five-day total of $69.1 million since opening Wednesday. All previous "Transformers" sequels opened with $97 million-plus.
But Paramount Pictures' "The Last Knight," the second "Transformers" movie to star Mark Wahlberg, still showed its might overseas. It took in $196.2 million internationally, including an impressive $123.4 million in China.
Future business will tell whether those grosses are enough to cover a hugely expensive movie: $217 million to make, plus nearly as much to market. Studios reap a smaller percentage of ticket sales from Chinese theaters. And reviews — although never much of a factor in "Transformers" land — were worse for "The Last Knight" than the earlier films. Audiences gave this one a B-plus CinemaScore.
Yet "Transformers" has been increasingly skewing international. The previous film, 2014's "Age of Extinction," made $858.6 million of its $1.1 billion global haul abroad.
"'Transformers' is built for a global audience," said Kyle Davies, president of distribution for Paramount. "You really have to consider how we did in the overall, and it was really strong overseas and in China. That's how we treat 'Transformers': It's a global property. So we're hopeful that we're going to get to a good place."
"Wonder Woman" and "Cars 3" tied for second place, both with $25.2 million. Nearly a month after opening, Patty Jenkins' "Wonder Woman" continues to be a major draw. In four weeks, it has surpassed $300 million domestically. And at $652.9 million globally, it's the highest-grossing film directed by a woman, not accounting for inflation.
In limited release, Kumail Nanjiani's acclaimed romantic comedy, "The Big Sick," landed the best per-screen average of the year. It opened in five theaters, grossing an average of $87,000 from each.
Sofia Coppola's "The Beguiled" wasn't far behind. In four theaters, it earned a per-screen average of $60,136. The Focus Features release, starring Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst and Colin Farrell, is a remake of Don Siegel's 1972 Civil War-era gothic thriller about a wounded Union soldier taken in by a Southern all-girls school.
Both "The Big Sick" and "The Beguiled" expand nationwide in the coming weeks.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. "Transformers: The Last Knight," $45.3 million ($196.2 million international).
2. (Tie) "Wonder Woman," $25.2 million ($20.5 million international).
2. (Tie) "Cars 3," $25.2 million ($11.9 million international).
4. "47 Meters Down," $7.4 million.
5. "All Eyez On Me," $5.9 million ($1.1 million international).
6. "The Mummy," $5.8 million ($16.5 million international).
7. "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," $5.2 million ($8.3 million international).
8. "Rough Night," $4.7 million ($2 million international).
9. "Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie," $4.3 million ($1 million international).
10. "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2," $3 million.