It seems audiences weren’t as eager to get “out of their shells” the weekend after Memorial Day judging by the meager box office numbers this week, or maybe slow and steady wins the race? Let’s figure it out in this week’s Making Dollars and Sense!
If you couldn’t guess from all of the turtle puns (and believe me, there are more to come), audiences weren’t as keen to shell out money for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which opened this weekend to a much smaller “scale” than we predicted last week. Our forecast of $55 million for the pizza-loving, artist-named amphibians came up $20 million over in reality, with a weak weekend gross of only $35 million, $100 million shy of its budget. One hundred million dollars. Ouch. The critics weren’t kind either, generally chalking this one up to the “well, it’s better than the last one, at least…kind of” and “your child will like it, but you won’t” fate that tends to come to CGI-heavy, Michael Bay-led action movies fueled by nostalgia for the characters’ better days. I predict this turd-le will be in the sewers by next week.
But that’s not the only turtle-studded disappointment this weekend had in store. The Lonely Island’s new satire Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping landed the number eight spot on the charts, grossing a mere $4.6 million, just a quarter of its $20 million budget, and falling the spot below Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’s third week, but only by a difference of about $100,000 (which is still a bummer). As a superfan of the comedy trio’s work, this is particularly disappointing. I saw Popstar on the day it opened, purchased the soundtrack as soon as I could, planned on learning every word to every song, and have every intention of seeing it many more times before it leaves theaters. It should come as no surprise that I say: don’t let the numbers dissuade you from seeing it! If you’re a fan of crude humor, loud pop music, an endless slew of celebrity cameos, and brilliant social commentary, this is a movie you cannot miss. Andy Samberg carries the film beautifully as the ignorant millennial musical sensation, Connor4real, as he tries to bounce back from the failure of his second solo album. This story tackles the effects fame can have on the human psyche, what it means to remain true to yourself artistically, how easily the media can forge the public perception of a person, how insensitive pop music tends to be toward sensitive social and political issues, how fleeting the spotlight really is, how pop culture audiences love a good comeback when paired with nostalgia, why farming can be boring but profitable, the importance of companionship with a pet (in this case, a totally dope, medical miracle turtle named Maximus), why you shouldn’t hire wolves for private events, and, at its core, the endurance and love of true friendship. I suppose my reaction (and the reactions of many other critics and filmgoers alike) is indicative of how similar this outcome is to past TLI releases (Hot Rod, McGruber): the audience loves it, the critics enjoy it enough, but the numbers just aren’t where they should be. Maybe Connor and company can stand the test of time and climb up in the weeks to come. Or maybe we’ll accept the underwhelming box office performance and remain the most humblest, number one on the top of the humble list.
Back toward the top of the chart is our final new release of the weekend, the deliberately depressing romantic drama Me Before You, starring Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke and The Hunger Games’ Sam Claflin, took the number three spot on the list, raking in $18 million in America, just $2 million short of its budget, but taking $7.7 million overseas to make it a monetary success. Audiences certainly weren’t “dragon” their feet to see Khaleesi finding herself in a “Finnick-y” situation (if you don’t watch Game of Thrones or Hunger Games, those jokes won’t make sense, so just keep reading and I’m sorry) where she becomes a caretaker to a disabled man who has lost his will to live. As if you didn’t see it coming, they fall in love and teach each other…about life? I’m not sure, I’ve only seen the trailer, but I’m willing to bet this film knows what to give its target audience, so much in fact that they should probably hand out chocolate, wine, and tissues with the tickets.
Other notables this week were The Angry Birds Movie in the number five spot, Alice Through the Looking Glass above that in number four, and X-Men: Apocalypse in the number two spot with a -65.3% drop from its opening weekend. Out of those three Angry Birds appears to be the only one doing exceptionally well. Having surpassed its budget this past weekend (it's third weekend released in theatres) from domestic box office sales alone, Apocalypse and Alice are no where near a similar standing. Going into their third week in theatres this coming weekend they stand no chance of accomplishing the same either.
With Warcraft and Now You See Me 2 (two big PG-13 popcorn flicks) arriving next weekend, I predict the end is nigh for our mutant superheroes and turtle crime-fighters. The Conjuring 2 starts haunting cinemas next week as well, which could scare away our comedies pretty quickly. With that said we're predicting that Warcraft will take the top of the box office. If they manage to bring in even $30 million opening weekend it should secure that title. Now You See Me 2 has already received worse reviews and harsher critiques than it's predecessors, and given that the original opened to the tune of $29 million, we're doubting the follow up will pull in more than $26 million. However, they have played their cards right as they are opening as the only mainstream audience film this coming weekend. Perhaps this will be their greatest trick yet?
In the meantime, don’t stay in your shell! Go to the movies and give Maximus the Turtle some green!