A meaty set of ninja turtles turned in thin results at the weekend box office, increasing the pressure on a struggling Paramount Pictures to find new hits.
Costing about $135 million to make and at least another $100 million to market worldwide, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” took in an estimated $35.3 million at North American theaters, according to comScore, which compiles box office data. The film’s franchise predecessor, riding a wave of nostalgia for 1990s-era entertainment, collected $65.6 million over its first three days in August 2014.
Sequels are expected to deliver stable returns — that’s why Hollywood makes so many of them — but audiences seem to be growing more selective. This year “Zoolander 2,” “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” “The Divergent Series: Allegiant,” “Barbershop: The Next Cut” and “Alice Through the Looking Glass” have disappointed or flopped outright.
Paramount contended that “Out of the Shadows” delivered initial international results ($34 million) on par with ticket sales for the 2014 installment, after adjusting for school holidays and exchange rates. The studio said that it hoped positive word of mouth and additional school recesses would help “Out of the Shadows” in the weeks ahead in the United States, where audiences gave it an A-minus in CinemaScore exit polls, an improvement from the previous film.
For the weekend, “X-Men: Apocalypse” (20th Century Fox) took in about $22.3 million in second place, for a two-week domestic total of $116.5 million. The romantic drama “Me Before You” (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and New Line) did a bit better than expected, taking in about $18.3 million and strengthening the star wattage of its lead actress, Emilia Clarke; it cost about $25 million to make.
The weekend’s only other new wide release, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” (Universal), a $21 million comedy starring Andy Samberg and produced by Judd Apatow, was dead on arrival, taking in about $4.6 million.