What the Successful Teenage Turtles Relaunch Means for Hollywoodby
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, resurrected from the 1980s, have lived to fight yet another round. After garnering a solid $65 million in U.S. movie ticket sales this past weekend, the film franchise got a green light for a sequel from Paramount Pictures this morning. The next iteration is scheduled to hit theaters June 3, 2016.
The turtles’ debut was the fourth-best August film opening on record and the 10th best of this year, ahead of Divergent, How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Fault in Our Stars.
A flop would not have been shocking. For one, the turtles are old. The gang has been largely dormant since its animated TV series shut down in 1996. Its last feature film came out in 1993, which means the success of the latest offering largely depended on kids who may have never heard of the franchise before. Since the turtles’ heyday, a talking sponge has peaked and kids’ TV is now ruled by Danny Phantom and a naive meatball.
Meanwhile, the retooled turtles didn’t win over many critics. There are, however, plenty of dads who remember the turtles fondly from their childhoods—and this made all the difference for Paramount.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, says nostalgia was a key factor in the film’s planning and its success. “Some of these filmmakers are totally enamored with their childhood obsessions,” he says. “And for a lot of companies, these projects have the potential to be blockbuster franchises, which is what everybody wants.”
Indeed, the turtles’ coup won’t be lost on other studios. The weekend turnout is proof that Walt Disney, with its archive of Marvel comics, doesn’t have a lock on powerful and proven superheroes.
In short, get ready for a lot of refreshed film fare from the 1980s. Lions Gate has already committed to a movie version of Power Rangers, a live-action TV series from the 1990s. Sony is said to be working on a new iteration of the He-Man vehicle, Masters of the Universe. And there has been a bit of a tussle for the rights to Voltron, a paragon of the space-lion-robot genre.