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Box Office: ‘Ninja Turtles 2’ Heading for Drab $30 Million Opening Weekend in U.S.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” is heading for a drab $30 million opening weekend in the U.S. — less than half its predecessor’s debut, early estimates showed Friday.

Paramount’s action-comedy sequel was performing at the lower end of forecasts with an opening day of $11 million at 4,071 locations. New Line-MGM’s Emilia Clarke romancer “Me Before You,” on the other hand, is performing  better than expected in the $6.5 million to $8 million range on Friday. Universal’s surreal Andy Samberg comedy “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” launched quietly with $1.5 million.

“Out of the Shadows” earned $2 million during Thursday night preview screenings — less than half the preview take from the original “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and a strong indication that the premise of wise-cracking pizza-loving terrapins battling to save the Earth may be wearing out its welcome. The original film earned $4.6 million in previews on its way to a $195 million domestic gross and $493.2 million worldwide.

The sequel, which opens in 40 international markets, need to perform strongly outside the U.S. in order to compensate for its $135 million budget.

“Out of the Shadows,” directed by Dave Green from a script by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec, stars Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry and Laura Linney.

“Out of the Shadows” has been pegged to top Fox’s second weekend of “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which should should pull in around $25 million at 4,153 sites in a typical “X-Men” decline in the 60%-plus range. “Apocalypse” will likely earn about $7.5 million on Friday to cross the $100 million mark.

Me Before You,” starring Clarke and Sam Claflin, could make as much as $20 million at 2,704 locations though other estimates were projecting around $15 million. That should be enough to finish in third well ahead of Disney’s second weekend of “Alice Through the Looking Glass” at 3,763 sites following that sequel’s box office flop of $26.8 million.

“Me Before You” is based on Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel. Clarke portrays a caretaker for a wealthy young man who was recently paralyzed after being hit by a car. It carries a modest $20 million budget.

“Alice Through the Looking Glass” will probably finish at about $10 million to $12 million, leaving it in a battle for fourth with Sony’s third weekend of “The Angry Birds Movie” and the fifth frame of Disney-Marvel’s “Captain America: Civil War” — the most recent sequel to overperform at the summer box office with $1.1 billion.

The Lonely Island’s “Popstar” is likely to fade quickly and finish under already-low expectations with about $4 million at 2,310 sites.

The domestic summer box office was down 4.1% from last year as of Wednesday, with $887 million while year-to-date grosses are up 4% at $4.52 billion, according to ComScore.

“The summer report card at this point is nothing to boast about with the past few weeks giving many in the business a stomach ache as uncertainty abounds as to the future of this all-important moviegoing season,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with ComScore. “Of course, every summer season has its own unique line-up, trajectory and perceived quality of content with some being front-heavy with hits, others back-loaded with duds and most just all over the map.”

Upcoming titles with strong prospects include New Line’s “The Conjuring 2” on June 10, Disney’s “Finding Dory” on June 17 and Fox’s “Independence Day: Resurgence” on June 24.

“If box office history tells us anything, it’s that today’s slowdown can turn into a industry wide home run in a matter of a few weeks and a new crop of films that suddenly over-perform can relegate the flops to the distant memory category,” Dergarabedian said. “Over the course of the coming weeks with some breakout hits and unexpected surprises, there is likely to be a major reversal of box office fortunes that will have us talking in August about what a terrific summer 2016 became, despite some early bumps in the road.”

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