Yes, I know that the image above does not come from Jonathan Liebesman’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as Liebesman’s Turtles barely take the time to do any boy-ish celebrating like this. What the Michael Bay-produced reboot did do, however, is pack enough theaters this weekend to confirm to Paramount Pictures that they have a new Teenage Mutant Ninja franchise on their hands. Yes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 is officially on the way. And Michael Bay is once again going to be the guiding light behind it. Call your favorite pizza place and ask them to just throw one in the garbage for you.
Paramount officially announced the sequel this morning, as the Ninja Turtles will presumably have earned around $65 million by the time this weekend is through. This is by far the biggest opening for any martial arts-learned reptiles, more than doubling the opening weekend for the 2007 animated film TMNT, and was more than the opening weekends for the first three Turtles films combined. (In fact, that film’s total domestic box office was only $54 million.) It’s no surprise—as the Platinum Dunes production was mired by controversy, from its alien origins to its inexplicable use of Megan Fox to its completely wasted cast of all stars—that pre-release buzz, however negative, combined with a prime end-of-summer release date to cram people of all ages into the theaters to see just how crazy this remake might get. Unfortunately, as I said in my review, it’s more boring and pandering than anything else, and nothing really worked.
In a particularly ballsy move, Paramount has already set a release date for the sequel: June 3, 2016. That’s an ever better spot in the summer schedule, and the date has already been filled by Warner Bros. San Andreas, starring Dwayne Johnson, and B.O.O. Bureau of Otherworldly Operations, the animated 20th Century Fox film with Seth Rogen and Melissa McCarthy. Will that weekend actually keep all three of those releases? Don’t count on it.
Fortunately, there’s a chance that Liebesman could be absent from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Mystery of the Goo —not officially the sequel’s name, of course—so there’s a chance we’ll get some action sequences that aren’t just noisy CGI-filled messes. Unfortunately, however, screenwriters Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec are confirmed for the sequel, and both have earned themselves executive producer credits. Their biggest pre-Turtles claim to fame so far has been the well-directed but otherwise blah Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, but they also created the “horror” series Happy Town, which was one of the most ludicrous things I’ve ever seen on TV.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles also did well in international markets, bringing in almost $29 million in 17 different countries, putting its worldwide gross just under $100 million. (Final figures pending.) I’m expecting this weekend was frontloaded by fans looking for a nostalgic trip to their youths, and that the film will take a complete nosedive next weekend.
So are you guys ready to see the Turtles raise more shell? Will Bebop and Rocksteady make it to the big screen this go-around? Will Splinter shave that hideous rat mustache? Find out once this sequel’s pre-production chaos begins!