Monday, 6 June 2016

Box Office: Ninja Turtles 2 Suffers in Anti-Sequel Summer

This week's box office numbers continue what has been an ongoing theme throughout this year's summer movie season, that being a diminishing interest in blockbuster sequels from movie-going audiences. Indeed, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is only the latest big budget follow-up to open with significantly less than it's precursor, perhaps a result of the so-called blockbuster fatigue that has been predicted for some time, or maybe a sign that audiences are ready to shift the emphasis back to original ideas after years in the grip of sequel-fever.
Alternatively, it could simply be that this summer's crop of movies frankly hasn't been up to par. According to review aggregate site Metacritic, the only films released since May began that have garnered generally positive reviews are Captain America: Civil War, The Nice Guys and this week's mockumentary Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping which ironically suffered the worst debut of all the weekend's new releases.

Whichever the cause it's hard to ignore the cold shoulder many sequels have been given so far this year, with the Ninja Turtles weekend haul of $35 million being yet another example of this harsh treatment.  This opening is a little over half of the $65 million the first film opened with back in August 2014, in spite of the film receiving (marginally) better reviews than the first entry and a larger budget of $135 million. While disappointing, this soft debut was still enough for the Turtles to take the top spot, as fellow sequel X-Men: Apocalypse also finds itself on the receiving end of audience apathy.
The 20th Century Fox super-hero sequel opened last week to $30 million less than previous entry Days of Future Past, and fails to recover any ground this week with a steep drop of 66%. This amounts to a second weekend haul of just $22 million, most likely a consequence of the film's mixed critical reception. Apocalypse fared better overseas where a strong debut in China of $59 million made it the number one movie at the foreign box office, but still the film is unlikely to exceed or even match the total of Days of Future Past -- currently looking at a worldwide gross of around $650 million in comparison to Future Past's $747 million.
It is telling that the one film which opened above and beyond expectations this week was a non-sequel with no ties to any major franchise, that being romantic drama Me Before You. Expected to open with around $12 million, the film instead raked in over $18 million snagging the number three spot in the process. The film is a much-needed win for Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke who faltered last Summer with the critical and commercial flop Terminator Genisys, but has come under fire from some in the disabled community who claim the film suggests disabled people are a burden on their loved ones while advocating euthanasia. It remains to be seen how this backlash will affect the film going forward.

After a horrible opening weekend the forecast doesn't get any better for Disney's Alice Through the Looking Glass this week, as the film drops 60% falling to number four with a second week haul of just over $10 million. Comparing the ten-day totals of 2010's Alice in Wonderland with this summer's sequel is genuinely shocking; by this point in its release the first film had already pulled in well over $200 million in the USA alone, while Through the Looking Glass has limped to just $50 million with it's colossal flop status all but confirmed. With a hefty price tag of $170 million plus advertising costs which is unlikely to be recouped, this film could well sound the death knell of Johnny Depp's blockbuster career.
The film's disappointing haul has been blamed by some on the actor's very public recent split from actress Amber Heard which came with accusations of domestic abuse, however with a lengthy string of flops behind him dating back to 2011 it feels as if Depp's career problems have been building for some time. Next year's Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales could very well be the actor's last chance in the big leagues, and if it too flops then Depp's face could be one absent from blockbuster films for the foreseeable future.
Alice Through the Looking Glass may well be the film worst affected by audience's apparent aversion to blockbuster sequels, with Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,  X-Men: Apocalypse and underperforming comedy sequel Neighbours: Sorority Rising getting easy rides in comparison. It's salt in the wound that in a week where so many sequels have struggled to find an audience, one of the summer's original movies has reached a huge milestone. Disney Animation's Zootopia has reached a worldwide total of $1 billion, only the fourth animated film to accomplish such a feat (after Toy Story 3, Frozen and Minions).
But just as things begin to look brighter for the future of original movies in Hollywood, a debut the size of the aforementioned Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping comes along. The spoof comes courtesy of comedy band The Lonely Island and is fronted by Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andy Samberg. No doubt the film was hoping to benefit from the elevated star-power Samberg has gained from the critically acclaimed FOX sitcom, but surprisingly the film ended up opening with a lower debut than The Lonely Island's 2007 offering Hot Rod. Popstar settled for number eight bringing in just $4.6 million over the weekend, with the film's restrictive R-rating cited as a possible reason for such a disappointing result.
Domestic Box Office Results (June 3rd-5th 2016)
1. (-) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows - $35.2 million
2. (1) X-Men: Apocalypse - $22.3 million
3. (-) Me Before You - $18.2 million
4. (2) Alice Through The Looking Glass - $10.6 million
5. (3) The Angry Birds Movie - $9.7 million
6. (4) Captain America: Civil War - $7.5 million
7. (5) Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising - $4.7 million
8. (-) Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping - $4.6 million
9. (6) The Jungle Book - $4.2 million
10. (7) The Nice Guys - $3.5 million


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