Remake and sequel culture has never been a particularly positive development in Hollywood culture, but the truly dark side of this movement appears in multiplexes this weekend with a film that fits both categories, and wanted by exactly no one.
Weekend Forecast for June 3-5, 2016
By Reagen Sulewski
June 3, 2016
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is the followup to the remake from two years ago and also from Michael Bay's continuing effort to destroy all hope and joy in the world. The positively ugly looking film revisits the world of the pizza-loving, martial-arts fighting reptiles first popular as a cult item in the late 1980s (and a parody of then-current comic trends) and which produced two popular movies in the early 90s, then one forgotten one way after the trend died and an abortive attempt at an animated franchise.
This film continues where the first left off as the Turtles make their move to go mainstream as heroes, fighting the forces of Shredder and Krang, along with mad scientist Baxter Stockman (Tyler Perry, who this actually counts as slumming for). In addition to the returning Megan Fox as April O'Neil and Will Arnett as a character you don't really remember, we add Stephen Amell (2010's for Chris O'Donnell) and Laura Linney (definitely slumming it) in the battle against more mutants – here including long time bumbling antagonists Bebop and Rocksteady, which is the kind of thing we named villains in the '90s.
While 2014's version of this film managed a $64 million opening weekend, there was a lot of latent nostalgia involved in that figure, and we've by and large gotten that out of our system. Targeted even more narrowly at pre-teen boys, this is a terrible looking film even by the limited standards of the franchise, and this includes one that had an extended sequence with Vanilla Ice. I'm expecting a significant falloff from the last TMNT film to about $35 million.
A rare romance hitting big screens, Me Before You stars Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke as the caregiver to Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games, Snow White and the Huntsman), a recent quadriplegic, who fall in love as they continue to spend time together.
A rather transparent weepie, it's the kind of film that's aiming for maudlin and probably dives down into mawkish, and hides a plot twist that veers into the distasteful – a sort of tragedy rubbernecking that brings to mind the ill-fated and ill-conceived Robert Pattinson film Remember Me. While Clarke is quite well known from her HBO series, she's quite untested as a lead in film, with only last summer's Terminator: Genisys on the record, and which hardly rested on her fame. While this has a bit going for it from its popularity as a book, it's very unlikely to break out beyond the hankies demographic and should open to about $11 million.
The second film from The Lonely Island crew, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is their piss-take on modern celebrity culture and the vapidity of pop music, specifically the works of one Justin Bieber (reading between the lines here). Shot in mockumentary style, Andy Samberg plays Conner4Real, a spectacularly dim and un-self-aware former boy band member going solo, and surrounded by a virtual army of yes-men, hangers-on and enablers.
While technically not a Saturday Night Live film, it draws heavily from that universe, including appearances from Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Will Forte, Jimmy Fallon and the other members of Lonely Island. This is not necessarily a selling point, as the 2000s SNL alumni have not done so well of late (outside of Kristen Wiig, who has succeeded in separating herself from that era. Samberg himself was partly responsible, or at least present for the mainstream death of Adam Sandler's career in That's My Boy. While he's proven himself to be a capable ensemble performer on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, this is Samberg front and center, and Pop Star, despite its reviews, has the look of a film that's basically beating one joke to death after another. There's a clear joke that's being made here, but the ones that get it don't need it told, and the ones in his audience don't get it. A brisk running time (under 90 minutes) probably enables this to have a decent life on Netflix and other streaming resources after an opening weekend of about $6 million.
Last weekend's Memorial Day champ, X-Men: Apocalypse, fell short of expectations with a $66 million three-day total, and just shy of $80 million over the holiday, a rather significant drop from the opening of Days of Future Past, and represents the staleness of this franchise, which, while it kicked off the comic movie boom of the 2000s, has struggled mightily in comparison to other franchises, never hitting the extreme heights of an Iron Man, Spider-Man or Batman. With sub-par reviews, it should see a huge drop to about $24 million this weekend and may struggle to hit the $200 million mark domestically.
Of course, it's not in as much trouble as the Alice in Wonderland sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, which was greeted with angry yawns and a $26 million opening weekend, an absolute cratering of over 75 percent off the 2010 film's opening weekend. While international business might make this look respectable in the long run, it's a complete repudiation of the property. Word-of-mouth should be terrible, leading to about a $9 million take for the second weekend.
More holdovers include The Angry Birds Movie, which should capture about $11 million with the family market, and Captain America: Civil War, which should bring in about $8 million as it moves ever closer to $400 million domestic.