While USA Today was shocked that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles beat out Guardians of the Galaxy, most millennials aren't that surprised. Growing up, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael and their armored pizza van caught millions of kids' imaginations.
The fact of the matter is "in nearly 25 years, no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film has opened below No. 1."
So really, the heroes on the half-shell were a guaranteed moneymaker for the studio and producers. While the article notes the film earned a B rating by CinemaScore, the critics panned the movie with a low 19% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Today also says that Guardians were unable to keep the number one spot, only making $41.5 million to TMNT's $65 million. And the Turtles managed to jump $20 million above the projected $45 million return earlier this weekend.
However, the bigger telling will be next weekend's box office. Nostalgia brings a lot of initial attention. With 55% of the audience aged 25 or older, it proves that reinventing a classic will help.
Rentrack's Paul Paul Dergarabedian states, "The film obviously had greater-than-expected appeal to nostalgic parents."
But it doesn't talk about long term viability, since it's only week one. And the 61% male audience doesn't translate to the recent statistics of female audience members buying the majority of movie tickets. That didn't stop Nickelodeon and Paramount Pictures from announcing a sequel due out on June 3, 2016.
David Mumpower, an analyst for Box Office Prophets, thinks, "perhaps more people should have expected this sort of breakout debut," given the 25-year Nickelodeon branding. "As silly as the idea of pizza-obsessed reptilian warriors may be, the quartet is iconic, claiming a rare level of public awareness."
Let's face it: say "turtle power" in a room full of people under 35, and you'll hear a deep echo back. Everyone knows the turtles, they know April, and they know the back-story. Want to know about a person’s childhood? Ask their favorite Turtle.
It’s easy to assume part of the children's A rating comes from a shared experience with parents. That’s on top of Nickelodeon’s cartoon and 2007 animated release.
News (@KWCH12) August 10, 2014
The Wrap notes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is Michael Bay's second hit of the summer. Transformers: Age of Extinction opened at $100 million and managed to be the only movie to hit the $1 billion mark globally. Almost 77% of the lifetime gross comes from foreign audiences.
The latest Transformers also broke above Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park in the all-time box office gross. In an interesting turn, Spielberg's also an executive producer for Age of Extinction. Basically, just moving his own movie records around.
If TMNT keeps the same trajectory, the movie should easily earn back the $125 million production cost.
Dergarabedian told Variety, “August has become a star of a month at the box office. It used to be thought of as the dog days of summer and as sort of a dumping ground.” And the battle between Turtles and Guardians has a lot to do with branding.
Jeff Bock from Exhibition Relations, an analyst firm, discusses how "there’s two new franchises in the first two weeks of August." Debatable on the "new" part since it's already been established TMNT's been around over two decades, but it is a complete reboot. And both the two movies managed to crack all expectations.
Shaw Robbins, an assistant editor at BoxOffice.com, said to Variety that while Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could be considered "a rebound," the reality is a slow season that's finally got "a final breath of summer in a year where there really wasn’t a huge blockbuster."
Other than the aforementioned Transformers, clearly, but it's often easy to forget movies from one side of summer to the next.
The next biggest weekend event will be Labor Day, the ending of the summer season. So what’s left to open then? It looks liked August may be the opening weekend winner for 2014.