‘Turtles’ tallies out to weekend high

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The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stole the box-office crown from Guardians of the Galaxy with ease this weekend. The latest action offering from Michael Bay grossed an impressive $65 million, contributing a significant portion of the $173.6 million total earned by the weekend’s top 12 films, a 22 percent uptick from this same frame last year. After a season of relatively slow sales, this August is shaping up to be the best on record. By the end of the month, returns may be close to $1 billion.

Critics’ reviews proved of little to negligible importance to fans, who didn’t let a 19 percent rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes keep them from theatres. Fifty-five percent of audience members were over the age of 25, and awarded the film an OK CinemaScore grade of a B. Given the performance of similar films like Transformers: Age of Extinction and the first G.I. Joe, which opened over this same weekend five years ago, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles should wind up with total earnings of around $170 million or so. Paramount certainly thinks its momentum will hold; the studio has already green-lit a TMNT (not to be confused with the ’07 animated film of the same name, which earned less from its entire theatrical run than this most recent Turtles grossed in its first three days) sequel. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 will bow June 3, 2016.

Although it was unable to retain its top standing at the box office, Guardians of the Galaxy still managed to claim an impressive distinction: The film earned the highest second-weekend gross of the summer. Guardians dipped 56 percent to rake in $41.5 million, boosting its current total to $175.9 million, which is also the highest 10-day gross of the year. If things continue to move along at this nice clip (and why shouldn’t they?), Guardians is looking to be the summer’s most successful film, with roughly $260 million in all.

Third place went to Into the Storm, as expected. The latest update on the Twister disaster flick grossed a solid $18 million, the same amount of money to which director Steven Quale’s last film, Final Destination 5, debuted in 2011. Storm skewed slightly female (58 percent) and certainly older (71 percent over the age of 25). Like Turtles, audiences awarded the film a B CinemaScore grade, although with its lack of stars, compensatory, interesting characters, and Michael Bay-style action, Into the Storm will likely hold less well than the weekend’s No. 1 earner.

Helen Mirren-starrer The Hundred-Foot Journey did a little better than pundits had predicted, clocking in at No. 4 with an $11.1 million gross. Its opening was certainly softer than those enjoyed by similar August foodie-flicks Eat Pray Love and Julie and Julia, both of which bowed in the low $20 millions, but viewers who did turn out (an older crowd; 69 percent were over 35) liked what they saw: They granted the film an A CinemaScore grade. Movies targeted to older audiences tend to be less front-loaded and enjoy steadier holds, so given Journey’s positive word-of-mouth, it should chart a smooth b.o. course to total returns in the $40 million range.

Step Up All In tanked with its fifth-place earnings of $6.6. million. Each Step Up film has earned less than its predecessor, but this most recent entry performed particularly poorly – its opening weekend gross was down a whopping 44 percent from Step Up Revolution. Have we finally seen the last of the once lucrative dance-film franchise?

Finally, the specialty division experienced a slow weekend, as two of its high-profile offerings failed to generate much excitement among fans. James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge 3D earned a very disappointing per-theatre-average of just $496 from 304 locations. What If, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, didn’t fare quite as poorly, but its opening was nonetheless rather soft: The rom-com grossed $130,000 from 20 theatres. It may perhaps fare better once more moviegoers, and Radcliffe’s significant fan base, get their chance to view the film upon its expanded, nationwide release.