Weekend Box Office: NINJA TURTLES Tops GUARDIANS with $65 Million Debut

     August 10, 2014


In what could be one of the biggest box office success stories of the summer, Paramount’s rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has easily snatched first place away Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend.  From 3,845 locations, Turtles took in an estimated $65 million – 35% higher than its own studio was expecting just a few days ago.  Guardians rang up $41.5 million in its second frame.  That’s a drop of 56% and was exactly what was expected – if you overlook the fact that Guardians was also expected to spend a second weekend in first place.

 Title Weekend Total
1.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles $65,000,000 $65
2.  Guardians of the Galaxy $41,530,000 $175.8
3.  Into the Storm $18,020,000 $18
4.  The Hundred-Foot Journey $11,120,000 $11.1
5.  Lucy $9,330,000 $97.3
6.  Step Up All In $6,580,000 $6.5
7.  Hercules $5,700,000 $63.4
8.  Get On Up $5,012,000 $22.9
9.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes $4,400,000 $197.8
10.  Planes: Fire & Rescue $2,419,000 $52.9


Full story after the jump.

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-donatello-posterAs we told you yesterday, the fact that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out on top this weekend surprised a lot of people.  Right up to Friday morning, when estimates from the film’s Thursday previews revealed it was running ahead of Maleficent ($4.6 mil. vs. $4 mil.), projections for the three-day frame still topped out at $45 million.  TMNT ended up shredding that figure, landing among the top August debuts of all time and posting a higher opening than any of the 1990s Ninja Turtles releases, even after adjusting for inflation.  The film also earned more in one weekend than Warner Bros. animated TMNT made in its entire run back in 2007.

It marks another big win for Michael Bay this summer.  While the domestic receipts for Transformers: Age of Extinction pale in comparison to previous titles in the series, the film’s worldwide might cannot be denied.  Tf4 is the only film released in 2014 to break $1 billion in global sales, with 76% of that coming from international audiences.  The Bay-produced Ninja Turtles is also expected to be a big hit overseas.  In fact, the film already earned more than $12 million from 19 markets before Saturday.

Teenage Ninja Turtles may need that international boost.  In terms of its biggest releases, this summer has been exceptionally front-loaded.  Godzilla came out hot in May with over $93 million and then fell 67% the following week.  The film just managed to drag itself over the $200 million mark last weekend: after almost three months in theatres.  Also auguring against a strong sophomore hold is TMNT’s word of mouth.  Scoring just 19% on Rotten Tomatoes (one point ahead of Transformers 4), even adults who grew up loving the Ninja Turtles of the 90s may get their fill of nostalgia this weekend.  Kids are another story.  The film’s overall CinemaScore score was a ‘B’, but audiences under 18 gave the reboot an A.  That’s the same score that Maleficent, one of this summer’s least front-loaded releases, received; and considering this season’s odd lack of kid-friendly choices, TMNT could continue to put up strong numbers in the weeks to come.

Of course, Ninja Turtles will also have competition from Guardians of the Galaxy in that regard.  GotG had a slightly better hold in its sophomore frame than Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a film that still ranks as 2014’s highest-grossing release.   And Guardians also has much better word of mouth on its side, so while Star Lord et. al. may have been denied a second win by Michael Bay, the long odds are still in Marvel’s favor.

into-the-storm-poster-finalOpening way back in third place is the Warner Bros. disaster pic Into the Storm.  In the summer of 1996 the studio had a big hit with the similarly-themed Twister, which earned almost $500 million worldwide without adjusting for inflation.  The prospects for Into the Storm were always more modest.  Though the film did manage to best expectations by opening above $15 million, it is already getting washed out by this month’s surprisingly heavy competition.

Unlike Into the Storm, The Hundred-Foot Journey should follow a modest opening with stronger than average multiples in the last weeks of this season.  Adapted from a popular novel, and produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey, the food-themed drama follows in the footsteps of literary adaptations like Julie & Julia, Eat Pray Love, and The Help, which all earned at least $80 million from their August runs.  The Hundred-Foot Journey may not reach those heights but, thanks to its very modest $22 million budget, it doesn’t need to in order to qualify as a hit.

There is probably no scenario in which Step Up All In will be considered a hit.  This weekend’s final new release opened in 2,072 locations and earned an estimated $6.57 million – down almost 45% from 2012’s Step up Revolution and a disastrous 90% decline from the original Step Up, which was a surprise success in August 2006.  So why do they keep making these films?  You can credit the international box office once again.  While the North American gross for Step Up Revolution barely topped the film’s reported budget of $33 million, its global total exceeded $140 million.  Step Up All In has already topped $44 million worldwide so, while it may pain some of you to hear, I don’t see a reason for this series to stop after five films.

Another series many wish had ended sooner will be back in theatres next weekend. The Expendables 3 is expected to open between $20 and $25 million, continuing the steady bleed of the series that has become something of a mid-August fixture since 2010.  An opening at that level leaves the door open for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to do what Guardians of the Galaxy could not – claim a second week on top of the domestic box office.  Overall earnings this weekend did top 2013 by almost 20% thanks to those Turtles, and if The Expendables 3 can give the box office another week in the black, would it really be so bad?  Seriously, I’m asking.


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