Box Office Guy:: Out of the Shadows

Patrick Reardon

Memorial Day weekend wasn't the box office bonanza many were expecting as "X-Men Apocalypse" came in below expectations while the expensive "Alice Through The Looking Glass" is looking like the first true bomb of the season. With neither of those films turning into a juggernaut, three new wide releases will attempt to carve out an audience for themselves. There is a big budget sequel, a romantic drama (is it still okay to call these "chick flicks" or have the PC police gained even more power?) and a satire of the pop music industry. We'll start with the sewer dwelling, pizza addicted reptiles.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" is premiering a little less than two years after its predecessor opened up with $65.6m on its way to a domestic total of $191.2m. With numbers like that a fast-tracked sequel was inevitable. However, even though a decent amount of people paid to see the original I don't think they were enthusiastic enough about it for the sequel to build upon those numbers. Yet another case of "seen by many, loved by few."

Based on user ratings across the Internet, audiences didn't dig the first 2014 TMNT movie all that much: 51% on Rotten Tomatoes, 5.9 on IMdB and a 5.0 on metacritic. Back in the 90s the previous iteration of the TMNT franchise had a 42% drop from the first film to the second. "Out of the Shadows" feels like it's unlikely to cross over with casual audiences. This movie is for kids and thirty five year old guys who still act like kids. Look for an opening in the low-mid $30s. It's way too risky of a play at FB$750.

Elsewhere at the box office this weekend is the romantic drama "Me Before You" starring Emilia Clarke (aka Khaleesi from "Game of Thrones") and Sam Claflin (Finnick from the "Hunger Games" movies). The film could prove to be an interesting bit of counter-programming in a marketplace filled with mutants (both of the X-Men and turtle variety), angry birds, mad hatters, sorority girls and CGI jungle animals. There hasn't been a romantic female driven film in theaters for a while and "Me Before You" could reap the benefits.

"The Fault in Our Stars" proved in 2014 that female audiences in early June can drive a film to hit status ($48m opening). "Me Before You" won't do those kind of numbers, but there is also a solid precedent of female driven movies doing solid business in June (movies with an ‘*' came out at least 10 years ago and have been adjusted for inflation):

2009 - "The Proposal" ($33.6m opening)

2006 - "The Lake House" ($17.8m opening)

2005 - "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" ($13.2m opening)

2004 - "The Notebook" ($18.6m opening)

2002 - "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" ($23.9m opening)

1991 - "Dying Young" ($19.8m opening)

Granted Clarke and Claflin are unproven at the box office, but I think the film is enough of a change of pace compared to everything else out there that it should do respectable business. Look for an opening in the low-mid teens. At FB$184 it's worth a look, but there is definitely risk involved.

The final new wide release of the weekend is, "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping," a satire of the pop music industry from the Lonely Island trio (Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone & Akiva Schaffer). Thanks to their digital shorts on SNL the trio has built up a fairly sizeable online following. But as "Keanu" proved in April a sizeable online following doesn't necessarily translate into box office receipts.

Combine this with Samberg's unproven box office track record, a low key marketing campaign, a low screen count (2,300) and an R-rating, I think "Popstar" will struggle to break $10m this weekend (and has a potentially low floor). Even with a reasonable price tag of FB$108 I have a hard time trusting it this weekend.

As mentioned the only new release I even remotely trust this weekend is "Me Before You," but I don't quite trust enough to put all my eggs in one basket. I'm leaning towards playing one screen of X-Men (FB$355) with two screens of "Me Before You" (FB$184). As for the rest of my lineup see my bonus pick below.

Weekend Picks

My picks for this weekend's top 5 in total box office (this week's cost in FML Bux in parentheses):

  1. TMNT: Out of the Shadows (FB$750)
  2. X-Men: Apocalypse (FB$355)
  3. Alice Through the Looking Glass (FB$177)
  4. Me Before You (FB$184)
  5. The Angry Birds Movie (FB$126)

Bonus Pick of the Week: "The Jungle Book" It's not a sexy pick but it's a fairly safe one. So far it's never had a weekend drop of more than 44% (and that was on the weekend that "Captain America" had a massive opening). With so many new movies opening up in the coming weeks, Mowgli's days as a Fantasy Movie League option are numbered but I still think "The Jungle Book" could find itself in bonus contention at FB$54.

Coming Attractions

A pair of sequels to hits from the summer of 2013 debut. "The Conjuring 2" and "Now You See Me 2" will try to top their predecessors while the video game adaptation "Warcraft" attempts to find an audience.

You can follow me on Twitter @TheBoxOfficeGuy.