'TMNT' Sees Green on Crowded Weekend

by Brandon Gray
A scene from TMNT
March 26, 2007

On one of the most crowded weekends in recent memory, six wide releases entered the fray and only one, TMNT, emerged a hit. Holdovers 300 and Wild Hogs continued to pack a wallop, and overall business soared 24 percent above the same weekend last year when Inside Man opened in first.

The computer-animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles scarfed down $24.3 million on around 3,700 screens at 3,110 theaters. While not as popular as the franchise's live-action big screen debut and sequel in the early '90s, the Warner Bros.-distributed $34 million feature was more potent out of the gate than the third movie, which seemed like the Turtles' end back in 1993.

The first movie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, debuted to $25.4 million at 2,006 theaters, which would equal nearly $40 million adjusted for ticket price inflation. It went on to gross $135.3 million, the equivalent of over $210 million today, but, by the third movie, business was down two thirds. Though the fad had cooled, the Turtles didn't vanish completely, percolating in cartoons, video games and other iterations over the years.

"It's been 14 years since the last movie," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.' president of distribution. "A lot of kids grew up on it and wanted to see the new movie. I was hoping we could get TMNT to the high teen millions." According to Fellman, Warner Bros.' exit polling indicated that the audience was 28 percent under 12 years old, 28 percent parents, 22 percent age 12 to 17 and 22 percent 18 and older. The grade from moviegoer pollster CinemaScore was "A-."

Warner Bros.' other computer-generated property, 300, remained muscular in its third weekend, despite the onslaught of new releases, including action movie Shooter. Retreating 40 percent to $19.9 million, the $65 million battle picture has amassed $161.7 million in 17 days.

Mark Wahlberg in Shooter
Shooter triggered $14.5 million at 2,806 locations, which was in the same modest range as such recent Spring action titles as The Sentinel and The Hunted. Made for over $60 million, Shooter had a subdued advertising that didn't crackle with the charisma and spectacle needed to put a generic action picture over the top. Distributor Paramount Pictures reported that two thirds of the audience was over 25 and the CinemaScore was "B+."

Hot on Shooter's heels in its fourth weekend, Wild Hogs eased 27 percent to $13.9 million. With $123.3 million in 24 days, it's already one of the ten most popular March comedies on record.

An aggressive marketing campaign helped propel The Last Mimzy to $10 million at 3,017 sites. The opening wasn't bad for a fantastical children's movie without a built-in audience and with coy ads that didn't bother to explain what a "Mimzy" was.

The Hills Have Eyes 2 followed the horror sequel norm of grossing less than its predecessor, scrounging up $9.7 million at 2,447 venues. A year ago, The Hills Have Eyes remake opened to $15.7 million before dying out at $41.8 million.

Adam Sandler in Reign Over Me
Reign Over Me drew $7.5 million at 1,671 theaters, marking comedy star Adam Sandler's third drama to post soft numbers after Spanglish and Punch-Drunk Love. The dominant message conveyed in promotions was Sandler depressed, which wasn't compelling for theatrical success. According to distributor Sony, the $20 million drama's audience was 59 percent female and 60 percent over 25, while the CinemaScore was an "A-."

The weakest of the weekend's new wide releases, Pride, mustered $3.5 million at 1,518 locations. It was a fraction of recent inspirational sports dramas, limited by its swimming subject matter.

Review - Shooter
Review - Reign Over Me
Review - Pride
Site Q: The Most Crowded Weekends on Record
3/27/06 - 'Inside Man' Takes the Bank (Same Weekend, 2006)
3/28/05 - 'Guess Who' Dines at Top Spot (Same Weekend, 2005)

Weekend Box Office Results
Franchise: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Mar. 25 and was revised on Monday, Mar. 26 with actual grosses.

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> MORE: News | Features
DAILY: Tuesday, 6/25 (29 tracked)
New MPAA Ratings Added
DAILY: Monday, 6/24 (30 tracked)
WEEKEND: Weekend Actuals, 'Toy Story 4' #1
DAILY: Friday, 'Toy Story 4' #1
WEEKLY: 'Men in Black 4' Tops the Week with $41.9m
DAILY: Thursday 6/20, (48 tracked)
DAILY: Wednesday, 6/19 (31 tracked)