Turtles Rule Galaxy with Guardians; $100 million Top Two
By John Hamann
August 10, 2014
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles people should send the Guardians of the Galaxy people flowers, as foot traffic to theaters for Guardians and Transformers pulled these turtles out of their shells – big time.
Opening alongside Ninja Turtles this weekend was Into the Storm, the new Twister wannabe from Warner Bros. Also new in theaters was The Hundred Foot Journey, the latest attempt to intrigue the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel audience. It starred Helen Mirren and Om Puri and had Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg providing marketing support. Finally, we had another new release in Step Up All In, the fifth film in the dance series that has pulled $200 million domestic and even bigger amounts overseas from four films so far. The elephant in the room, though, is Guardians of the Galaxy, last weekend’s $94 million record breaker. How far would the surprise starter fall in its second weekend? Would it hold up better than the other $90 million plus openers we’ve seen this summer?
After Disney and Marvel turned Guardians of the Galaxy into the "it" thing last weekend, Paramount rides that wave of success this frame with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, producer Michael Bay's oft-mocked franchise restart. Bay, famous for continually managing to turn garbage into gold, has released two of three three films this summer that opened at number one but were less than 25% fresh at RottenTomatoes. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles almost matched the critical negativity of Transformers: Age of Extinction, yet it still managed to open beyond tracking estimates for the weekend.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles broke out in a big way from the $40 million tracking estimates released prior to the weekend. The comic crossover earned $4.6 million through its previews (7 p.m. start) and a huge $21 million over Friday proper for a combined first day estimate of $25.6 million. Normally with a film like TMNT, I would expect a tiny internal multiplier (fanboys seek it out on Friday, followed by a large drop off over the remainder of the weekend). Saturday and Sunday were solid days for the film, giving Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in internal multiplier of 3.1 (excluding Thursday previews), and a surprisingly strong opening weekend total of $65 million.
Considering that the tracking figures had anticipated much less and the fact that the costs of production for the film were huge ($125 million), Paramount must be breathing quite a sigh of relief. Over the long haul, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will need to earn at least its production budget back stateside. Given the weak reviews and B Cinemascore, a $40 million opening weekend wasn’t going to be enough. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will need to earn more than $300 million worldwide and the big opening this weekend will only further help awareness and raise the profile to overseas audiences. It has already amassed $28.7 million from international venues, so it is certainly well on its way to profitability.
Ninja Turtles is another stupid and disappointing way to spend $125 million; however, we are beginning to see these types of movies released more and more often. These movies "for kids" are poorly made, violent, and just plain stupid, but they also make a ton of money. Readers of this column know I blame Garfield and Alvin and the Chipmunks. The two Garfield movies made $350 million worldwide, and the three Alvin movies have made $1.1 billion globally – just on the initial release of the film. These films have an average fresh rating of 17% at RottenTomatoes, and it’s a shame that this money can’t be spent making these movies better (Michael Bay doesn’t even care!).