Turtles Are (Finally) Cooked, Me Before You Surprises, Popstar Flops
By John Hamann
June 5, 2016
First, X-Men and Alice disappointed last weekend. Now, the Ninja Turtles do the same. This is another prime time summer weekend where the box office champion is going to end up a financial loser, at least theatrically.
That sucking sound you hear is the results at the box office after the first two traditional weekends of the summer box office, which goes from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. Over the long weekend in the last frame, Disney’s Alice sequel, Through The Looking Glass, flopped, and X-Men: Apocalypse under-performed. Yes, overall results were better than last year, but they were worse than the three previous Memorial Day weekends and almost $100 million behind the 2013 result when Fast and Furious opened.
The post-Memorial Day frame looks like trouble as well. Openers include the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel, Out of the Shadows, a completely unnecessary sequel to a long expired idea, Me Before You, another youth dying film a la The Fault in Our Stars or the much better Me, Earl and the Dying Girl, and finally Popstar: Never Stop Stopping, another of Andy Samberg's silly "one good idea stretched into a movie" concepts, much like 2007’s Hot Rod. More amazing is that Popstar is the best reviewed title of the bunch.
The number one film over this drab weekend is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, the sequel to the 2014 reboot that opened to a wild $65.6 million in 2014. Had it been me, I would have pulled my chips off the table after the 2014 version finished with just short of $500 million worldwide, which means it had a theatrical profit despite costing $125 million to make. Two years later, Paramount is back, this time spending $135 million on the sequel. The follow-up adds nothing new – except for super box office draw Laura Linney – and added a subtitle that has been used a dozen times in movies and TV over the last dozen years.
The expiration date hit on Ninja Turtles about two weekends after the last one opened, and it really only had legs due to a lack of product in the marketplace. It was the film that famously opened at number one in between number one weekends for Guardians of the Galaxy. If you’re still not clear, Let’s Be Cops was a top ten film for seven weekends that August and September when GoG and the Turtles were dominating.
The Ninja Turtles sequel got started on Thursday at previews, earning $2 million, less than half the Thursday of the first film. If you’re a sequel like this one, and you’re not selling tickets to the fanchildren for the preview, your film is not going to open well. Friday came in at $12.5 million - $10.5 million without those pesky previews. The good news is that its opening day was above $10 million, but the bad news was that the Thursday/Friday combo was off 51% from the original’s start, and remember, this one cost $10 million more to make than the original. Out of the Shadows needs over $400 million worldwide to find a profit, and the last one earned $493 million. Now, your domestic opening day for the sequel is less than half the original. The only thing coming out of the shadows was Alka Seltzer for the suits at Paramount and Nickelodeon.