Could it be that Hollywood’s junkie-like reliance on sequels could be coming to an end? A series of so-so-sequels, many based on comics, tallied another disappointing chit with this weekend’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadowstook. Produced by Michael Bay, the film was #1 at the box office but with a moribund $35.25 million, on a production cost of $135 million, so not exactly time for Kristal. X-Men Apocalypse came in second with $22.3 million, a 66% drop that’s typical for sequels but further evidence of a softening market:
ICv2 has a succint write up on the evolving situation. :
As expected Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadowstook the weekend box office crown, but its estimated $35.25 million opening was soft, 46% lower than its predecessor, magnifying a trend from last weekend when both the X-Menand Alice sequels disappointed. If audiences continue to display these symptoms of “sequelitis,” Hollywood honchos might have to rethink their “more and more of the same” game plan. Overall box office receipts were almost exactly even with a similarly “soft” post-Memorial Day weekend last year when the R-rated Melissa McCarthy comedy Spy topped the box office with $29 million.
The new TMNT film, which like its 2014 predecessor was produced by Michael Bay, cost $135 million, so Paramount can’t be happy with the film’s domestic debut. Out of the Shadows will have a hard time earning $100 million in the domestic market, so Paramount is hoping for big things from overseas where the film earned $34 million as it opened in about 40 international markets, but the real test will come when it opens in China where its predecessor earned a substantial $62 million in 2014.
Deadline has further analysis of the film’s prospects:
After the success of the first TMNT ($493.3M global B.O.), a sequel made perfect business sense for Paramount, particularly given the franchise history. It just feels like this one is same old, same old in its materials and the film itself. Not to mention, following in the footsteps of Guardians Of The Galaxy during the early August period that year gave fanboys some dessert after hogging out on that Marvel movie. TMNT isn’t a comic book mythology that’s ripe with any popular, cool, or nefarious characters that lend themselves to sequels in the way that the Batman or Avengers universes possess.
There isn’t any Bane or Scarlet Witch lurking around for a sequel that’s going to send stampedes to the multiplexes. Nor is there a big-hook storyline that’s screaming to make it’s way to the big screen (i.e. Donatello the Turtle eats a bad batch of pizza and dies). Here’s why Paramount went after kids instead of millennials for the sequel in their marketing: Apparently, 18-34ers weren’t completely on board with the vision of the first movie (18-24 gave it a B+, while 25-34 gave it a C+), so Par tapped the family demo and saw an uptick in 25-34’s reception who gave it a B+, while 18-24’s grade stayed the same.
In effort to stoke millennials, particularly those who were Transformers devotees, Michael Bay and team expanded the role of April O’Neil in the film series by casting starlet Megan Fox. Despite being the film’s leading social star with 55.3M followers (92% of that coming from Facebook) she was only 5% of the reason why general audiences attended the first time around, and 4% during the second go-round (and she went from an A- to a B-). The addition of Stephen Amell (from CW’s Arrow) in the role of Casey Jones sent the lead actor draw from 1% on the first movie to 6% on the sequel. But in sum, it’s not the actors who are the draw, but the fact that it’s a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (47% cited subject matter as the main reason for attending)
. It may just be that The Force Awakens has made audiences more picky about sequels, or that there is a genuine interest in new material — Zootopia which has made over $1 billion worldwide is actually the second biggest original movie of all times, after Avatar, as in a film that isn’t based on a previous comic, TV show, book, video game or breakfast cereal.
Or maybe people are just staying at home streaming video. It’s easier and there’s PLENTY
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.