Box Office: 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Wows With $65M Domestic Debut

8:12 AM PST 08/10/2014 by Pamela McClintock

UPDATED: The Michael Bay-produced movie steals the top spot from 'Guardians of the Galaxy,' with Paramount immediately announcing a summer 2016 sequel

Launching a new film franchise, Paramount and Nickelodeon Movies' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles wowed in its North American debut with $65 million, becoming the second August tentpole after Guardians of the Galaxy to wildly overperform. Worldwide, the movie opened to $97.3 million, prompting Paramount chief Brad Grey and producer Michael Bay to immediately announce a sequel, set for release June 3, 2016.

TMNT is a needed win for Paramount, which makes fewer movies than other studios. It also exploits parent company Viacom's various divisions. TMNT screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and Andre Neme are returning to write the script for the sequel.

The family friendly film, earning a B CinemaScore, easily bested Guardians to claim the No. 1 spot domestically. Guardians certainly held its own, however, falling a respectable 56 percent in its second weekend to $41.5 million for a domestic total of $175.9 million. Globally, the Marvel Studios and Disney tentpole raced past the $300 million mark after earning another $40.1 million for a foreign total of $137.3 million and world haul of $313.2 million.

In North America, Guardians and TMNT are helping to shore up the otherwise troubled summer box office, where revenue was down a steep 20 percent two weeks ago. Revenue is now down by 16.5 percent over a year ago, still a historic low.

Guardians placed No. 2 domestically, followed by new entires Into the Storm and adult dramedy The Hundred-Foot Journey, which opened to $18 million and $11.1 million, respectively. The weekend's fourth new nationwide film, Step Up All In, opened to $6.6 million, a franchise low. The dance film is making up ground overseas, where it has earned $37.7 million for a worldwide total of $44.2 million.

Heading into the weekend, the $125 million TMNT was expected to debut in the $50 million to $55 million range, and its better-than-expected performance underscores the pent-up appetite for family fare, even though it is rated PG-13. Bay's Platinum Dunes shepherded TMNT for Paramount and Nickelodeon. (There's already a new television series.)

Males fueled the film (61 percent), while 45 percent of Friday's audience was under the age of 25.

Directed by Jonathan Liebesman, TMNT stars Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Danny Woodburn, Abby Elliott, Noel Fisher, Jeremy Howard, Pete Ploszek, Alan Ritchson and Minae Noji. It's based on the characters created by Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman.

In the film, four outcast brothers rise from the sewer and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while working with a fearless reporter (Fox) to save New York City from Shredder and his evil Foot Clan.

“To know moviegoers are embracing the Turtles with such enthusiasm is everything that we and all our filmmakers have been hoping for. Along with our partners Michael Bay and Platinum Dunes, and of course Cyma Zarghami and everyone at Nickelodeon, we are thrilled with this weekend’s result, the enduring power of this franchise, and the opportunity to make another one," Grey said in a statement.

Paramount Film Group president Adam Goodman added, “Launching a new take on the turtles into the feature film world was a daunting task because as fans of them ourselves, we felt a great responsibility to ensure audiences were going to experience everything they loved about the turtles, while also getting to see them brought to life in a way they had never been seen before."

New Line and Warner Bros.' tornado disaster film Into the Storm, earning a B CinemaScore, opened to less than half of Twister's $41.2 million debut nearly 20 years ago, not accounting for inflation. (That film was also from Warner Bros.) Lacking any big stars but boasting plenty of tornadoes, Into the Storm cost under $50 million to make.

Into the Storm played heavily to females (58 percent), while a full 71 percent of the audience was over the age of 25. Steven Quale directed the found-footage movie. Overseas, the action film opened to $8.3 million from 20 markets for a world total of $26.3 million.

Going after adults was DreamWorks and Participant Media's dramedy The Hundred-Foot Journey, about dueling French and Indian chefs in a small French town.

The $22 million film, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and based on the book by Richard C. Morais, has plenty of pedigree behind the camera in producers Oprah Winfrey and Steven Spielberg, while star Helen Mirren is a big draw for older moviegoers. Middling reviews likely muted the film's showing, although it did boast an A CinemaScore. More than 40 percent of the audience was over the age of 50.

From Summit Entertainment, Step Up All In is the fifth installment in the dance franchise and placed No. 6. Trish Sie directed the movie, which stars Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Stephen "tWitch" Boss, Misha Gabriel, Izabella Miko, Alyson Stoner and Adam Sevani. Step Up All In received a B+ CinemaScore, with females making up 59 percent of the audience.

At the specialty box office, CBS Films' romantic comedy What if, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, launched in 20 theaters in 10 top markets, grossing $130,000 for a location average of $6,500, on par with Promised Land and just behind The Young Victoria in terms of location average.

What If earned an A- CinemaScore, and will continue to expand next weekend.

At the specialty box office, James Cameron's Deepsea Challenge 3D, struggled badly in its debut, grossing $150,399 from 300 theaters for a paltry location average of $496. National Geographic produced the documentary, which was directed by John Bruno and Ray Quint.

Here are the top 10 estimates for the weekend of Aug. 8-10 at the domestic box office:

Title, Weeks in Release/Theater Count, Studio, Friday Total, Percentage Change, Cume

1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, 1/3,845, Paramount, $65 million.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy, 2/4,080, Disney/Marvel, $41.5 million, -56%, $175.9 million.

3. Into the Storm, 1/3,434, Warner Bros./New Line, $18 million.

4. The Hundred-Foot Journey, 1/2,023, Disney/DreamWorks, $11.1 million.

5. Lucy, 3/3,147, Universal/EuropaCorp, $9.3 million, -49%, $97.4 million.

6. Step Up All In, 1/2,072, Lionsgate/Summit, $6.6 million.

7. Hercules, 3/2,896, Paramount/MGM, $5.7million, -48%, $63.5 million.

8. Get On Up, 2/2,469, Universal, $5 million, -63%, $22.9 million.

9. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, 5/2,306, Fox, $4.4 million, -49%, $197.8 million.

10. Planes: Fire & Rescue, 4/2,280, Disney, $2.4 million, -60%, $53 million.

Twitter: @PamelaDayM

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