HOW OFTEN do you see a box-office champ playfully seem to taunt its newcomer challenger within the dialogue of the film itself?
Early in Marvel Studios’ smash hit “Guardians of the Galaxy,” our outlaw hero Peter Quill (the self-dubbed Star-Lord) says to a lackey guard, “Ninja turtle, you better stop poking me.” The line plays like a winking nod to the hot August fight that is the newly rejuvenated summer box office.
Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reboot grossed $65-million in its domestic debut to win the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. “Guardians” grossed $41.5-million in its second weekend out.
The revived Ninja Turtles may have poked “Guardians” out of the top spot this weekend, but “TMNT” couldn’t top “GOTG’s” record as the biggest domestic August opening ever — set when Marvel’s deep-space outlaws grossed $94.3-million during the month’s first weekend.
The Ninja Turtles had the fourth-biggest August domestic debut ever, also behind sequels “The Bourne Ultimatum” ($69.3-million) and “Rush Hour 2″ ($67.4-million).
With the month’s 1-2 punch of fresh cinematic franchises, though, the doldrums that were Summer Box Office 2014 have found August to be the best medicine — reversing eight straight weeks of domestic declines that had led to a 20-percent plummet over last summer.
“There’s two new franchises in the first two weeks of August,” Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock told Variety. “No other month this summer produced two huge new franchises.” (Of course, much of the early summer was stocked with huge existing franchises, such as “Amazing Spider-Man 2” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”)
Paramount won’t stick to August for the sequel, though; the studio has announced that “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2” is set for June of 2016.
FUN WITH NUMBERS:
* “Guardians” has now grossed $176-million domestically — more than its reported production budget.
* “Guardians” — which has grossed $313.2-million worldwide — topped the weekend’s foreign box office with $40.1-million across 50 markets, according to Rentrak.
* The five feature films starring the Ninja Turtles (including the three New Line movies from the ’90s and the Warner Bros. animation from 2007) have now grossed more than $375-million total domestically.