Weekend Forecast
By Tim Briody
August 8, 2014

The ninja turtles look like talking poos.

After getting last weekend’s Movie That Saved The Summer out of the way, Hollywood exhales and officially gives up by giving us four new wide releases, most of which won’t be remembered in a month.

The highest profile new release is a reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. Yes, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello return in what seems to be a somewhat darker portrayal of the anthropomorphic comic heroes. The plot generally seems to be the same, with New York taken over by Shredder and the Foot Clan and the TMNT are the only ones who can stop him.

The turtles are motion captured and mostly voiced by nobody notable (though [bp:979_]Johnny Knoxville[/bp] provides the voice of Leonardo for some reason), which is fine as casting someone famous is just wasting money. The April O’Neil role goes to Megan Fox, showing she’s buried the hatchet with [bp:425_]Michael Bay[/bp] (who produced the movie) after famously being fired from the Transformers franchise. Also along for the ride are Will Arnett, William Fichtner and Whoopi Goldberg.

The popularity of the Turtles franchise has ebbed and flowed since its late '80s/early '90s heyday, and a theatrical release was last tried in 2007 to an okay result ($24.2 million opening, $54.1 million total), but a 2012 animated TV show (to which this bears no relation) has proven popular, so here we are again. There’s a lot at stake here as for some reason someone decided it was okay to spend $125 million on the making of this movie. Earning that back is going to be a long shot. Even with international grosses TMNT finished with $95 million worldwide, and this is probably a tougher sell overseas than most action movies.

The marketing for the reboot is kind of everywhere, but reviews are abysmal and while the target audience might not care, they’re bad enough that it might prevent a wave of nostalgia from sweeping the nation. Still, there’s enough folks who probably won’t want to see Guardians of the Galaxy again and that’s good enough for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to have a weekend of $34.8 million.

In a world of Sharknados, are we ready for just some plain old regular tornadoes? That’s what Into the Storm is banking on. Nearly 20 years after Twister, weather is once again the bad guy. This time we rely on the found footage gimmick as an excessive number of tornadoes wreak havoc on an unsuspecting town. Curse you, climate change! Starring some television actors and a guy from The Hobbit, Into the Storm’s effects look decent enough, but suffers from a real hook outside of “oooooh, wind!” and lacks anyone that would even remotely be considered a box office draw. Reviews are actually worse than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so that doesn’t help matters any. I’m not too sure how well this will play in areas that see a large amount of tornadoes, but it’ll still be good for about $13 million on the weekend.

Step Up: All In is the fifth, yes, the fifth entry in the dancin’ franchise. When most franchises eventually just head straight to DVD after a couple of movies, Step Up has been chugging along in theaters since 2006. The series that unleashed Channing Tatum on the world brings back characters from previous Step Up films (except, uh, Channing Tatum) for a big dance off in Las Vegas. It’s in 3D because of course it is.

The Step Up franchise has seen the expected diminishing returns domestically, but has proven popular overseas, with 2002’s Step Up Revolution earning just $35 million in North America but $130.4 million worldwide (on a budget of $33 million), which is why these keep getting made. There’s nothing here that’s going to attract new fans so I’d look for something similar to Revolution’s opening with a slight bump for bringing back previous protagonists, with about $12 million.

Finally, The Hundred Foot Journey attempts to add some class to the slate of openers this weekend. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starring [bp:773_]Helen Mirren[/bp], it’s a restaurant clash between French and Indian cuisine that’s based on a novel and suddenly I’m very sleepy. I don’t have anything else to say about this but it’s pretty likely to get lost in the shuffle with around $7 million.

Barring a collapse for the ages, the stage is set for Guardians of the Galaxy to repeat at the top of the box office. Last weekend’s $94.3 million was a remarkable accomplishment for something that only the biggest comic book nerds were aware of not six months ago. It singlehandedly saved the summer box office season and shows that audiences will put their faith in anything with the Marvel name on it going forward.

Even a 60% decline from the opening weekend will still be enough to beat Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles barring TMNT overperforming. The weekday grosses have been strong and with incredibly positive reviews and rapturous word-of-mouth, I think it’ll keep the drop closer to the 50% mark, and I’d look for a weekend of $44.1 million.

Among the other holdovers, Lucy will creep closer towards the $100 million mark, establishing [bp:816_]Scarlett Johansson[/bp] as a legit action star, if that’s the route she wants to pursue (how long until a Black Widow spinoff?), while Get On Up managed to not get lost in the big Guardians of the Galaxy weekend, opening to a respectable $14 million. It’s early, but expect Chadwick “Biopic? Sign me up!” Boseman to get some Oscar attention. Give Lucy around $9 million while Get On Up should earn about $7 million in its second weekend.