I heard yesterday that TMNT2 was originally tracking at $49M on NRG three weeks ago and since then, its projection tanked. Some attribute this swing to broken tracking models; they tend to have the pulse on TV ads, but fail to take into account the social media vibe (That said other tracking firms tell me they take all factors into account when forecasting).
Others blame TMNT2‘s sequelitis on Paramount’s decision to change-up its target audience. When the studio rebooted the franchise two years ago, they executed a perfectly calibrated campaign that would appeal to Generations X and Y nostalgia for the brand. That pulled in 55% over 25. This time the studio focused on kids, and 52% under 25 and 40% under 18 showed up. Still, we’re looking at lower ticket sales here. iSpot.TV shows that Paramount shelled out an estimated $28.3M on television ads, with heavy spends on such Nickelodeon kid shows as SpongeBob SquarePants, The Thundermans and Henry Danger. Let’s not forget that the Melrose Lot also spent at least $5M on a Super Bowl spot for TMNT2.
But c’mon, it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, not X-Men. How high can the stakes get in this sewer world with four fat, bulky turtles? I still have the Eastman and Laird comic books upstairs in my closet from my junior high days and the original property since the mid-1980s has weathered various blenders at New Line, TWC/Warner Bros (remember that 2007 animated film TMNT which made $54M at the domestic B.O.?), and Nickelodeon prior to Paramount. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was an indie comic book that completely sold out to commercialization, leaving a large portion of its tonal roots in the dust. The original comic book was a die-hard satire, even sending up Wolverine, but dramatic gravitas played on screen would have seemed ridiculous. A sequel for TMNT was announced during its $65.5M successful opening weekend two years ago.
While this sequel is -49% off from the 2014 installment’s $65.6M opening, the 1991 New Line sequel only slid 21% from its initial 1990 chapter ($25M to $20M). What also contributed to the success of the early August opening of TMNT two years ago was the fact that there were more kids out of school. By Monday, only 52% K-12 schools will be on summer break.
The one thing that the turtles can beat their chests about this weekend is that A- CinemaScore, up from 2014’s B. Since Par went after the kid demo, it’s crossing its fingers that TMNT2 plays like one with a high multiple this summer. We’ll see. Strong CinemaScore grades for this sequel lie with males who turned up at 54% (A-), females at 46% (A-), the under 18 crowd (A), and the under 25ers (A). TMNT2 received sour results on PostTrak: 78% gave it a total positive score (meh), 47% said they’re definitely passing around the good word about it (not good), while only 20% said it exceeded their expectations (a good indicator of whether the sequel is worth moviegoers’ cash). Sixty-five percent males turned up for TMNT2, but despite 53% being under 25, there was thick draw among the millennials with 38% between 18-24 and 33% 25-34. So, a portion of the old hipster fans showed up. 3D repped only 36% of all ticket sales per PostTrak. Thirty-four percent of the crowd said they bought tickets because they like the franchise.
20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse is down a bit further than we originally thought with $6.57M on Friday and a second weekend of $22.3M, -66%. Nonetheless, it will cross the century mark with $116.6M by Sunday.
In third is MGM/New Line’s Emilia Clarke weepy Me Before You which is outperforming its projections with $7.7M on Friday and an $18.3M opening at 2,705 theaters. But that’s not all. CinemaScore audiences gave it a string of big sloppy kisses with straight As in the over/under 25 demo, over/under 35 demo and audiences overall. Sixty-six percent of the crowd were over 25, 53% under 35. Women, per CinemaScore cards, turned out at 81% (A) with 66% over 25 (A). All demos gave Me Before You either an A or A- except for the guys who got dragged into the auditorium by their better halves. Still, Emilia Clarke is easy on the eyes and 18% of the audience said they turned up to watch The Game of Thrones actress, while 21% cited The Hunger Games Mockingjay hunk Sam Claflin. But overall, 57% of the audience wanted to watch a young romantic drama.
PostTrak shows an 83% total positive score with 61% giving it a definite recommend to friends. Even though PostTrak is showing a 74% female, 54% over 25 turnout, peering through this demo report further we see those aged 13-34 watched this movie with two to four friends (13-17 year olds at 35%, 18-24 at 22% and 25-34 at 24%). Those teens (13-17) who brought the most friends (five-plus) repped 21% of the crowd.
“When you get that young female crowd ignited, they’ll arrive at the theater in droves,” said one studio distrib chief, “but this film will have a quick burn given how most of the women arrive during the first weekend.”
Another rival exec counters, “There are lots of good examples of high weekend multiples for female driven films such as If I Stay at 3.22x, My Sister’s Keeper at 3.95x, and Age of Adeline 3.23x.” CinemaScore is comping the demos to Me Before You to Fox’s Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Longest Ride which received an A, opened to $13M and finaled at $37M. Something tells me Me Before You will have a much better leg out factor as it serves as solid counter-programming this summer. To give you an idea of what type of nerve Me Before You is hitting, Warner Bros. retweeted a moviegoer’s tweeted photos that read “I went to see Me Before You and cried off my spray tan.”
ISpot.TV shows that Warner Bros. went after females aggressively, running ads on Dancing With the Stars, The Voice, Mom and Grey’s Anatomy with a total media and TV spend of $13.7M. Warner Bros. teased exhibitors with the following clip at CinemaCon:
Relish Mix observed how two song drops were key in raising the profile for Me Before You on social media: an Imagine Dragons music video “Not Today” which has racked up 5.3M YouTube views, 120K per day, and X Ambassadors’ “Unsteady,” which has clocked 1.2M views. There’s also a lot of chatter about the film among the books’ fans, with Clarke’s official Instagram tubthumping the movie to her 4.1M followers.
Then there’s Universal’s $20M low-budget comedy from the Lonely Island guys, Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping which is halting in seventh place with $1.77M on Friday and $4.6M and a B CinemaScore. The title isn’t even registering on iSpot.TV which means that Uni invested largely in a thrifty digital campaign. This film wasn’t teed up to rally theatrically like Neighbors or Ted, but rather as a post-theatrical cult performer.
By Sunday, Whit Stillman’s Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship will be close to $7M, soon topping Barcelona, the director’s highest grossing theatrical release. A24’s The Lobster crawls from 116 theaters to 560, bound to see a 26% hike in its fourth weekend with $1.25M and a running cume of $3.7M.
The top 13 films for the weekend of June 3-5, 2016 per industry estimates as of Saturday morning:
1). Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (PAR), 4,071 theaters / $12.4M Fri. (includes $2M previews) / 3-day cume: $33.7M/Wk 1
2). X-Men: Apocalypse (FOX), 4,153 theaters / $6.57M Fri. (-75%) / 3-day cume: $22.5M (-66%) /Total cume: $116.6M/Wk 2
3). Me Before You (MGM/New Line/WB), 2,704 theaters / $7.77M Fri. (includes $1.37M previews) / 3-day cume: $18.3M /Wk 1
4). Alice Through the Looking Glass (Disney), 3,763 theaters (0)/ $3.15M Fri. (-68%) / 3-day cume: $11M (-59%)/Total: $51M/Wk 2
5). The Angry Birds Movie (SONY/ROVIO), 3,484 theaters (-448)/ $2.6M Fri. (-49%) / 3-day cume: $9.2M (-51%)/Total cume: $86M/ Wk 3
6). Captain America: Civil War (Disney), 3,084 theaters (-311) / $2M Fri. (-50%)/ 3-day cume: $7.1M (-54%) /Total cume: $388.4M/ Wk 5
7). Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping (UNI), 2,311 theaters / $1.77M Fri. (includes $322k previews) / 3-day cume: $4.64M/Wk 1
8). Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (UNI), 2,417 theaters (-999)/ $1.48M Fri. (-48%)/ 3-day cume: $4.62M (-51%)/Total cume: $48.4M/ Wk 3
9). The Jungle Book (DIS), 1,990 theaters (-533) / $1.1M Fri. (-37%) / 3-day cume: $3.9M (-45%)/ Total cume: $347.2M / Wk 8
10.) The Nice Guys (WB), 1,888 theaters (-977)/ $964K Fri. (-43%) / 3-day cume: $3.2M (-51%)/Total: $28.7M/ Wk 3
11.) Love & Friendship (AMZ/RSA), 819 theaters (+326) / $610k Fri. (-9%) / 3-day cume: $2.1M (-13%) /Total cume: $6.97M/Wk 4
12.) Money Monster (SONY), 1,323 theaters (-992) / $492K Fri. (-55%)/ 3-day cume: $1.68M (-61%)/Total cume: $38.1M/Wk 4
13.) The Lobster (A24), 560 theaters (+444) / $394K Fri. (+82%)/ 3-day cume: $1.25M (+66%)/Total cume: $3.7M/Wk 4
2nd UPDATE, 12:27PM: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is on course per industry projections to make $11M today, with an opening between $28M-$30M, but rival distribution czars aren’t impressed by nor envious of this Paramount release’s weekend. In regards to a sequel’s opening vs. its predecessor’s, TMNT2 isn’t seeing the biggest drop from part 1, with its opening off by 54%-57% from the 2014 title. The goat horns for the worst sequel debut this year, of course, land upon the hat of Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass. Last weekend the James Bobin-directed movie opened 77% below its 2010 first chapter’s $116M debut. TMNT2 will have the added benefit of 331 Imax locations and 3D showtimes. The first TMNT reboot drew an over-25 crowd of 55%, roping in all the Gen X and Y fans of the comic books and New Line series. The sequel is earning slightly better reviews at 36% rotten than the first at 22%; the critics were no threat to its B.O. longevity two years ago. Nor were CinemaScore audiences, who gave TMNT a B grade
20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse is looking at $8M today, off 70% from a week ago because its $26.3M Friday had a Thursday injection of $8.2M, with a second FSS in the mid-$20M range. MGM/New Line’s Me Before You is building momentum with young females and eyeing a $7M-$8M opening day (including $1.5M from Thursday night). Per one insider, matinees indicate a $15M opening, but rivals think it could have a shot at $20M. With Rotten Tomatoes critics, the Emilia Clarke romance has a middling 56% score.
Alice Through the Looking Glass is projected at a second weekend of $11M, -59%, taking its 10-day take to $51M.
Universal’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is exactly where we figured it would be with $1M-$1.5M Friday and a $4M debut. Its 93 reviews currently have Pop Star ranked with a 78% Rotten Tomatoes score.
1ST UPDATE, 7:38AM: Paramount’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows drew $2 million in Thursday previews last night at 3,000 locations. That compares to two years ago, when the film’s rebooted first chapter made $4.5M on Thursday on its way to a startling $65.6M opening. Still, $2M isn’t too shabby in a marketplace where sequels have taken a beating at the B.O. this year. TMNT2 will hope to clear $30M-$35M this weekend, making up its $135M production cost abroad; that rollout in 40 markets begins this weekend. Sixty-one percent of the 2014 title’s $493.3M worldwide B.O. came from foreign.
The Melrose Studio promoted TMNT2 at WonderCon this past spring and made the pic the cornerstone of its CinemaCon presentation with Will Arnett ordering pizza to the stage at Caesars Palace Colosseum where he engaged in a lengthy banter with co-star Megan Fox.
A likely recent comp for TMNT 2 is Sony/Rovio’s The Angry Birds Movie, which made $800K on its preview night, $10.8M on its opening day and $38.2M in its first FSS.
MGM/New Line’s weepy romance drama Me Before You grossed $1.37M last night, in what is expected to be a $12M-$14M opening. Warner Bros. is distributing the movie. That’s a few bucks ahead of the $1.1M that another young adult drama, If I Stay, made on the eve of its opening day. That late August 2014 cash cow raked in $15.7M on its first FSS and finaled at $50.5M off an $11M production cost.
And Universal’s Lonely Island comedy Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping made $322K last night, a number that’s under what Horrible Bosses made on its preview night ($365K) and above the $250K preview cash posted by Andy Samberg’s 2012 R-rated comedy That’s My Boy. Pop Star is expected to ring in around $4M, a far cry from That’s My Boy’s $13.5M. Uni kept P&A thrifty on Pop Star and relegating it largely to digital where the Lonely Island guys have always had a huge following.
The top-grossing title last night on the charts was 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Apocalypse which made an estimated $3.58M for a first week’s gross of $94.2M. The fourth Bryan Singer X-Men movie is expected to decline 55%-60% this weekend for $26M-$29M. Disney’s Alice Through The Looking Glass filed second with an estimated $1.8M and a first week’s tally of $40M. It is poised to tumble 60% for a second session of $10.7M.