Can the ‘Turtles’ trounce the ‘Guardians?’

ScreenerBlog

It’s looking as if this weekend’s box-office champion will be a tough one to call, as the newest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot squares off against last weekend’s monolith, Guardians of the Galaxy. Turtles opens in 3,485 theatres today, boasting strong brand recognition from fans who grew up watching the old cartoons of the ‘80s and ‘90s, as well as from today’s tiny devotees of the Nickelodeon show. Toss in the name clout of director Michael Bay and his former Transformers leading lady Megan Fox, and Turtles could have a strong shot at taking the title from Marvel’s Guardians.

The film’s drawbacks, however, include a PG-13 rating, the hardest rating yet for a theatrical Turtles offering. This may isolate a good chunk of the aforementioned Nickelodeon fans, while its poor reviews (21 percent rotten on Rotten Tomatoes) may keep many of the older, former fans of the franchise at bay. Still, according to Fandango, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is currently out-selling the two G.I. Joe films, the last of which, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, opened to a strong $51 million.

Assuming Turtles performs as well as the pre-release data suggests, whether or not it claims the No. 1 spot at the box office will depend upon how well Guardians of the Galaxy holds. Most Marvel movies dip around 60 percent their second weekend in theatres. However, Galaxy seems to be a particularly successful case, as indicated by its mid-week numbers: The film had the best Tuesday-Wednesday spread of 2014 so far. It should make at least $40 million this weekend, though most likely, it will earn considerably more – certainly enough to give those Turtles a run for their share of moviegoers’ money.

Look for Into the Storm to claim the weekend’s No. 3 position, ahead of fellow new releases Step Up All In and The Hundred-Foot Journey, as well as holdover Lucy. While critics seem to agree the movie’s tornado special effects are impressive, the film’s lack of compelling characters has earned it roundly unfavorable reviews. The lure of a big-screen spectacle should be enough to pull in revenues in the mid-to-low teens, but word-of-mouth will likely hurt its chances of theatrical longevity.

The Step Up franchise has seen diminishing returns with each successive installment, though its overseas popularity remains healthy enough to warrant continued production. The last Step Up film raked in a little under $12 million its opening weekend; All In should fall just shy of this figure.

No. 5 should come down to The Hundred-Foot Journey and Luc Besson’s Lucy. Helen Mirren is a favorite among a certain dedicated set, but advanced buzz surrounding her latest, an adaptation of a Richard C. Morais novel produced by Steven Spielberg and Oprah, has been relatively muted. Previous food-centric films to open in August include Eat Pray Love and Julie & Julia, both of which topped out to around $80 million. Journey probably won’t match those earnings; a debut of $10 million or so is likely. Lucy should also pull in returns in the $10 million range.

Finally, What If, Daniel Radcliffe’s first foray into romantic comedy, also opens today, in 20 locations. The movie has been garnering favorable reviews, and should see healthy returns prior to its larger nationwide expansion.