I’ll be one of the first ones to admit that I enjoyed the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. Going into it, I had the lowest of low expectations. The film had the stink of Michael Bay all over it (even if he didn’t direct), the CG effects looked suspect, and the story looked beyond stupid. Imagine my surprise upon finishing and realizing that, not only did I not hate the movie, but I actually genuinely enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong, but wasn’t great, but I had a good time watching the film for what it was.
So when it was announced that there would be a sequel, I pretty much shrugged and thought, “yeah, sure, I’ll watch it.” Unfortunately, like a lot of viewers who liked the first movie, I didn’t have the same response with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows as I did with the first movie. While critics seemed to like the movie a bit more than the first, negative word of mouth seemed to result in an underwhelming box office performance. So what happened with this one? I have a couple theories, but this very same question was asked of one of the film’s producers, Andrew Form.
Speaking with Collider, Form expressed his bewilderment at the film’s inability to find an audience:
“We were obviously surprised at the box office results. We loved the movie. We loved making the movie. From our first Super Bowl teaser to everything we launched, we felt so good about our material, and for some reason it did not find the audience that the first movie found. And we talk about it all the time, and we tried to figure it out, but we cannot put our finger on what happened. We really can’t. It’s just one of those things where we feel like we made a really great movie; we thought at the time that our release date was great, and we added all these new characters with Bebop and Rocksteady and Baxter Stockwell had a big role in the movie and Casey Jones and for some reason when it came to opening weekend…Even before the movie came out, we were feeling great. And you wake up two days before the movie opens and you go, 'Wow, I don’t know if this movie is tracking as well as it should.' Then you hope, and then Thursday night happens and your midnights come in and you’re like, 'That’s not what Movie 1 did,' and then sure enough your weekend comes and it’s nowhere near what anyone thought, and it’s nowhere near Movie 1, and, before you know it, it’s over. We’re still so proud of the movie; it just didn’t find an audience. We really don’t know why.”
That being said, even if the producers didn’t understand why the movie failed, that’s not to say they didn’t learn anything from the experience:
“I think one thing we did learn is you really need to give—you can’t just add characters to a movie and expect that to be what’s fresh. It’s a sequel. You have to give the audience something that’s really new and fresh. Maybe just adding characters from the canon, that wasn’t enough.”
I have two theories on this. The first is that despite my own experiences with the film — as well as the experiences of others I know and follow — it’s impossible to gauge whether or not this was a truly universal one. Unlike me, I'm sure there are plenty who saw the first movie actually hated it and, as a result, didn’t come out of the sequel. After all, it’s not like I can argue that critics liked the first movie. The second theory has to do with the shift in style and tone between movies. While the first one definitely had a lighthearted tone to it, it still was aimed at a relatively broad audience. But the second movie…that one seemed like it was expressly made for ages 10 and under.
The thoughts in my second theory seem to be echoed by Form when describing the film they set out to make in this sequel:
“We set out to make a poppy, colorful, fun, add all these fun characters that people had grown up with—and like you said, bring the cartoon to life, and we feel like [director] Dave Green executed that perfectly and made a great movie, so what we set out for, we feel like we accomplished. It just didn’t find an audience.”
All in all, I’d have to say this is a bit of a bummer. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the movies, there was a potential for the franchise as far as the style and tone they’d established in the first film. For now, it sounds like we’ve seen the last of this iteration of the turtles:
"I don’t think there’s Turtles 3, but I wouldn’t say there’s never going to be another Turtles movie."
What do you think? Why did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows fail at the box office? Let us know your thoughts down below!
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