Weekend Box Office: Turtles Tops Guardians

The latest revival of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opened strongly this weekend at the North American box office. The action flick displaced last weekend’s number one champ Guardians of the Galaxy, which held its ground with a solid second place showing. Warner’s Into the Storm and Disney’s The Hundred-Foot Journey also opened to okay numbers while Step Up: All In proved to have two left feet. Thanks to the arrival of Turtles and the strong second weekend of Guardians, the box office had its second weekend of increased business over totals from not only 2013 (+23%), but also 2012 (+31%).

There have, according to IMDB, been three animated television series, one live action film series that ran from 1990-1993 and an CG-animated reboot from 2007 that preceded the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Despite the endless reincarnations in multiple media formats, it appears that the heroes in a half-shell haven’t lost their appeal. The latest version, produced by Michael Bay, directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Battle: Los Angeles, Wrath of the Titans) and starring Megan Fox, Will Arnett, Johnny Knoxville and Tony Shaloub, opened on 3,845 screens Friday where it shredded its competition by collecting a massive $65 million. The film opened overseas in seventeen markets this weekend as well where it earned an estimated $28 million.

Being it was a Bay production, it came as no surprise that the critical consensus was downright awful (Check out Jon’s review here). The Rotten Tomatoes score was 19% and the Metacritic score was a low 33/100. Like many a Bay production, viewers wanted to be their own judges and ignored what the scribes had to say. Ticket buyers were a little kinder than the press for Turtles and gave the movie a decent “B” CinemaScore rating. While longstanding fans helped open the new film successfully, it will most likely be families who will drive this latest version of the long-running franchise. A sequel has already been scheduled for a June 3, 2016 release with Bay returning to produce. Perhaps he can bring back Vanilla Ice while he’s at it (dare to dream).

Star Lord, Rocket and Groot may have had to step aside for Shredder, Leonardo and Donatello but that doesn’t mean that Guardians of the Galaxy has vanished into the box office afterlife. Despite the arrival of Turtles the Marvel/Disney blockbuster stood its ground and managed to lose only 56% of its first weekend audience in its sophomore session (the norm is usually 60% or more). Guardians of the Galaxy added $41.5 million from 4,088 screens this weekend to bring its domestic total to a phenomenal $176 million.

The film’s midweek business was quite strong, so strong that it claimed records for the best midweek business for any film this year thus far. That strong business is a clear sign that positive word-of-mouth has been spreading among ticket buyers outside of Marvel’s dedicated fan base. Guardians should pass the $200 million mark by next Friday (if not sooner) and continue to do strong business right through Labor Day. The film should wind down its domestic run with at least $275 million with plenty more from global markets whose share currently stands at $137 million.

Despite the occasional blockbuster success of films such as Turtles and Guardians, August is usually Hollywood’s dumping ground for films looking to make a quick buck before hitting home video. One example is Warner’s $50 million natural disaster epic Into the Storm. The thrillerdebuted in third place with an estimated $18 million from 3,434 theaters. The Steve Quale directed feature stars Richard Armitage (The Hobbit trilogy) and Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead) and a lot of bad weather. The film received a dismal 21% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a 44/100 from Metacritic and a “B” CinemaScore from ticket buyers. Chances are pretty good that this Storm’s duration will be a short one at the box office.

Presented as counter-programming for the likes of mutant turtles, galactic guardians and bad weather was Disney’s The Hundred-Foot Journey with a respectable $11.1 million from 2,023 theaters. The $22 million production was produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, stars Helen Mirren and was directed by Lasse Hallstrom. Reviews were decent for the feature. Journey earned a 64% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a 55/100 from Metacritic and an “A” rating from CinemaScore.

The fourth new release of the weekend landed in sixth place with a thud: Lionsgate’s Step Up All In with $6.5 million from 2,072 screens. The latest in what appears to be an endless parade of dance films (is this the fourth or fifth Step Up film?) met with critical pans and audience indifference. Even though the movie tanked here in the States this weekend, the film has scored $44 million so far from overseas. This should guarantee us something along the lines of Step Up Some More, Sucka! in another year or so.

Rounding out the top five was Universal’s action hit Lucy with an estimated $9.3 million from 3,147 theaters. To date, the Scarlett Johansson movie has earned a solid $97 million and should cross the $100 million mark within the next week en route to a final $115 million domestic haul. The film has added $15 million so far from overseas markets with many countries yet to open the film.

The remainder of the top ten is as follows:

  1. Hercules (2014- Paramount) $5.7 million (-48%); $63.4 million
  2. Get on Up (Universal) $5 million (-63%); $23 million
  3. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Fox) $4.4 million (-49%); $198 million
  4. Planes: Fire and Rescue (Disney) $2.4 million (-60%); $63 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of Fox’s comedy Let’s Be Cops on Wednesday and The Expendables 3 and The Giver on Friday. Does Sly and his gang of action icons has what it takes to rule the box office or will it be another week of Turtle Power?

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