Never underestimate the power of nostalgia - or Michael Bay.
The Platinum Dunes-produced reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles overcame mostly negative reviews (read ours here) and fan suspicion over the creative direction of the turtles' origins to rake in $65 million on its opening weekend. TMNT overtook Guardians of the Galaxy at the box office by a solid margin, something even we didn't see coming.
It should come as no surprise then that Paramount is announcing a sequel with a release date. Variety reports that on the heels of TMNT's resoundingly successful opening, the studio has lined up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 for a June 3, 2016 release. Platinum Dunes will again produce, with screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec also returning, but director Jonathan Liebesman was not mentioned.
So despite the movie's critical drubbing, the turtles have unarguably won the day. TMNT's opening is the fourth-highest August take in history, with Paramount's president of domestic marketing and distribution Megan Colligan attributing this success to a sly sort of counterprogramming, saying:
“ ‘Guardians’ is a great movie and it’s always tough to come right behind a great movie. Ultimately we played more like a family film and they played a notch older…The great thing about summer is the marketplace is able to expand to allow for these two films.”
While many fans were skeptical about the reboot, this big opening is not that much of a surprise, and as the Variety report points out, TMNT had two distinct demographics going for it: younger kids who had been exposed to the ongoing Nickelodeon cartoon series and older crowds who grew up with the '80s cartoon and the '90s movies.
The announced release date for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 places it in the heart of the summer 2016 blockbuster season, which will see movies like Uncharted and Finding Dory, which are currently slated to open in the surrounding weeks. The only current direct competition is the R-rated animated film Sausage Party from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, which will open that same weekend.
The question now is: Who will direct the sequel? It's entirely possible that Paramount and Platinum Dunes will announce either Jonathan Liebesman's return or a replacement very soon. With cast members like Will Arnett already talking about their roles in the sequel, expect the studio to capitalize on this big opening weekend and keep the PR train moving with more announcements in the coming weeks.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 will open on June 3, 2016.