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 US$43.5 million (NZ$59.7m) in ticket sales over the weekend and a five-day total of US$69.1 million since opening on Wednesday.

All previous Transformers sequels opened with US$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 US$196.2 million internationally, including an impressive US$123.4 million in China.

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Future business will tell whether those grosses are enough to cover a hugely expensive movie: US$217 million to make, plus nearly as much to market. Studios reap a smaller percentage of ticket sales from Chinese theatres.

And reviews - though 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 US$858.6 million of its US$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 US$300 million domestically. And at US$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 US$87,000 from each. Amazon plunked down $12 million for the Judd Apatow-produced Sundance Film Festival hit. Lionsgate is handling the theatrical release.

Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled wasn't far behind. In four theaters, it earned a per-screen average of 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 US$87,000 from each. Amazon plunked down $12 million for the Judd Apatow-produced Sundance Film Festival hit. Lionsgate is handling the theatrical release.$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. At the Cannes Film Festival last month, Coppola won best director, becoming only the second woman to do so.

Both The Big Sick and The Beguiled expand nationwide in the coming weeks.

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Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian theatres, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers also are included.

1. Transformers: The Last Knight
2. (Tie) "Wonder Woman
2. (Tie) Cars 3
4. 47 Meters Down
5. All Eyez On Me
6. The Mummy
7. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
8. Rough Night
9. Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie
10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

- AP