This is the time of year when Hollywood studio executives begin watching the summer blockbuster box office even closer than usual, analyzing attendance patterns and hoping for a rising tide in attendance to lift all boats.
Thus far, while it looks as though Sony has a new hit franchise in Angry Birds, there's undoubtedly some hand-wringing happening over X-Men: Apocalypse opening with almost $30 million less than it's predecessor last week and the box-office failure of Alice Through The Looking Glass. Now, add another soft opening to the list: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of The Shadows.
Deadline is reporting that despite topping an overall-modest Friday box office, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel is projected for an opening weekend almost 50 percent lower than that of its predecessor. The news comes as a surprise to some analysts, who had originally projected the film (which cost more than $135 million to produce) to earn in the area of $50 million for the weekend only to see the tracking numbers plummet as it approached release.
The film's now-estimated $33.7 million take was enough to edge X-Men: Apocalypse out of the top spot in its second week, but is still off significantly from the $65.6 million earned by the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature in 2014 - a figure that becomes even more concerning when recalling that the first film opened against the second week of the massively-popular Guardians of The Galaxy.
While almost no industry watchers were expecting the film to open to record-setting numbers, the modest box office take will likely be of concern to Paramount. For instance, many are sure to question the studio's decision to shift the sequel's marketing focus to children and families (along with the nostalgia market by featuring characters like Bebop & Rocksteady) after having targeted mainly older teenage fans of the Transformers movies for the previous installment. However, the sequel was more warmly received by critics and earned better audience feedback than the original, which could potentially lead to longer, more sustained box office presence overall if word of mouth holds steady.
The rest of the weekend's new-release box office was similarly unremarkable, with the Emilia Clarke-starring romantic drama Me Before You (a love story between a paralyzed man and his caregiver) opening above expectations for third place and with the most positive audience feedback (according to Cinemascore polling) of almost any recent release. Meanwhile, the low-budget Lonely Island vehicle Pop Star: Never Stop Stopping (a satire of music industry documentaries with Andy Samberg as a Justin Bieber-esque pop musician) opened in seventh place with unsurprisingly low returns but expectations of a longer life as a post-release cult item.
Thus far, apart from Captain America: Civil War (itself technically a late-Spring opener) Hollywood's "official" summer releases have largely not produced the kind of sustained blockbuster mega-hits that the theatrical film industry has come to rely on, and theater owners are unlikely to relax until later in the month when big players like Disney's Finding Dory and the long-awaited sequel Independence Day: Resurgence begin to hit theaters. Next week, all eyes are likely to be on Duncan Jones' video game adaptation Warcraft - which was aiming to become a major franchise for Universal but is thus far tracking soft and generating terrible early reviews.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is in theaters now.