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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” fought off “Me Before You” and “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” at the Thursday box office.

Paramount’s “Ninja Turtles” sequel opened with a solid $2 million during Thursday night preview screenings at about 3,000 U.S. sites, while the Warner Bros. romantic drama “Me Before You” took in $1.4 million. Universal’s Andy Samberg comedy “Popstar” launched quietly with $322,000 on Thursday.

“Out of the Shadows,” a sequel to 2014’s surprise hit “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” is expected to win the weekend with somewhere in the $35 million to $40 million range at 4,071 locations — about half of the original’s $65.6 million opening take.

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 is opening in 40 international markets this weekend.

“Out of the Shadows,” directed by Dave Green from a script by Josh Appelbaum and André Nemec, stars the terrapins along with Megan Fox, Stephen Amell, Will Arnett, Brian Tee, Tyler Perry and Laura Linney. The turtles come into conflict with Perry’s evil Dr. Baxter Stockman.

“Turtles” has been pegged to top Fox’s second weekend of “X-Men: Apocalypse,” which should should pull in more than $25 million at 4,153 sites. “Apocalypse” had topped $90 million domestically as of Wednesday.

New Line and MGM’s “Me Before You,” starring Emilia Clarke of “Game of Thrones” and Sam Claflin from “Hunger Games,” is expected to make about $15 million at 2,704 locations. That may be enough to take third place over Disney’s second weekend of “Alice Through the Looking Glass” at 3,763 sites.

“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.

“Popstar,” starring Samberg’s rock parody group, the Lonely Island, carries low expectations with a forecast of $6 million at 2,310 sites.

 

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