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What Can You Say? Folks Love Turtles

He's wearing a mask, but this is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle under there.
Paramount Pictures
He's wearing a mask, but this is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle under there.

There's a run on turtle puns and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle references this morning as we settle into a reality where a new adaptation of the old franchise took in $65 million in domestic box office this weekend. Although it's nowhere near Guardians Of The Galaxy's opening a week ago (more like $94 million), it was good enough to kick Chris Pratt and friends out of first place by much more than a hare. (Don't get up, I'll fire myself.)

According to Box Office Mojo, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' CinemaScore (the rating audiences give when they're polled after they see it) is a lukewarm B, meaning that there are a significant number of people who went to see a film about four giant fighting turtles and walked away with the sense that they didn't quite get what they came for from this film about four giant fighting turtles, but they certainly showed up in droves. And 55 percent of the audience was over 25, exactly the same percentage reported for Guardians in its opening last weekend.

The turtle movie hasn't gotten great reviews (our own Tomas Hachard was relatively kind) like Guardians Of The Galaxy has (our own ... well, me ... I was excited). And it wasn't just critics — opening weekend audiences gave Guardians an A. Critics and plain old ticket-buyers agreed: Guardians was a better movie. Shouldn't that word of mouth count for something? Shouldn't hearing that a movie is really good make any difference at all? Does this mean Turtles will sink like a rock next weekend?

Maybe. Whether impressing audiences should matter or not, it often doesn't with movies that are taking place on this scale, at least in the first weekend or two. Whether you're a Marvel movie or a turtle movie, you're trading heavily on familiarity and the event quality of the opening weekend. (See the very silly hyping of movie-against-movie faceoffs that aren't going to happen for another two years.) In the end, it seems very likely that Guardians will make more money domestically, but for the time being, its position at the top of the charts is a shell of its former self. (I'm leaving, I'm leaving.)

And in the meantime, that turtle total is good enough that — sing it with me if you know the words — they've already greenlit the sequel.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.

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