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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Rubin, Variety

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ aims for $35 million debut


Everett Collection New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is now in theaters.

Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo are facing off against Barbie and Ken at the box office.


Paramount’s animated adventure Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem is projected to pick up $35 million to $45 million in its first five days of release. But those ticket sales won’t be enough to dethrone Barbie, which is expected to top the box office for a third weekend in a row.


Greta Gerwig’s colorful fantasy comedy is eyeing $45 million to $50 million between Friday and Sunday, another huge result for the plastic fantastic blockbuster. It’s already the second-highest grossing movie of the year with $381.6 million in North America.


TMNT opened nationwide on Wednesday, two days ahead of another newcomer, the Warner Bros. shark sequel Meg 2: The Trench. Those films will vie for second place alongside Christopher Nolan’s historical drama Oppenheimer, now in its third weekend of release.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles already collected $3.85 million from last Tuesday’s preview screenings. The PG film cost $70 million, which is less than recent animated offerings such as Pixar’s $200 million-budgeted “Elemental” and Sony’s $100 million-budgeted Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Still, Mutant Mayhem needs to stick around in theaters beyond opening weekend to justify the production budget. With great reviews and positive word-of-mouth, the movie is hoping to benefit from kids who are out of school for summer vacation.

Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies seem to have faith in the film, since they are already developing a sequel, as well as a two-season Paramount+ series that will serve as a “bridge” between the big screen adventures.


Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the creative team behind Superbad, wrote and produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Jeff Rowe, the filmmaker of the Oscar-nominated The Mitchells vs. the Machines, directed the film, which follows the Turtle brothers, who set out to conquer the streets of New York City after spending years sheltered from the human world. The sprawling voice cast includes Hannibal Buress, Rose Byrne, John Cena, Jackie Chan and Ice Cube.


Meg 2: The Trench is targeting $25 million to $30 million in its debut. Those estimates are a significant drop from the first film, which opened to $45 million in the pre-pandemic era. The Meg became a surprise smash with $145 million in North America and $530.5 million globally.

The follow-up film cost $130 million, so Warner Bros. is banking on another strong turnout at the international box office.


Ben Wheatley directed the sequel, which again stars Jason Statham and centers on a group of scientists who travel to the depths of the ocean and must fend off a 75-foot-long behemoth known as a megalodon—and other terrifying sea creatures.


Oppenheimer, meanwhile, looked to add $23 million to $26 million in its third outing. The film has earned $181 million at the domestic box office and $419 million at the global box office, a mammoth result for a three-hour biopic that’s heavy on dialogue and light on action. It has already outperformed the lifetime grosses of two prior Nolan efforts, Tenet ($365 million) and Batman Begins ($373 million).


©2023 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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