The film industry faces a steep challenge heading into a sequel-heavy summer: the seemingly endless barrage of movie continuations over the last several years might have finally forced audiences into a state of sequel fatigue, as The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Neighbors 2, and Zoolander 2 have all underperformed in 2016 alone. Even the typically-foolproof superhero genre has suffered in the wake of sequelitis, as last weekend’s X-Men: Apocalypse grossed a mere $65.8 million over its first three days, which pales in comparison to the $90 million three-day ($110 million four-day) haul of Days of Future Past before it.
With three major motion pictures hitting screens this weekend (including a sequel!), we are now fully into summer movie season, though a crowded market filled with follow-ups all targeting the young male demographic could make for a disastrous playing field for one of this week’s new releases as it attempts to make a dent in the June 3-5 box office.
Here’s what the top 5 might look like by the end of the weekend:
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – $30 million
The aforementioned statistics regarding sequels don’t bode well for a film like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, which has relatively big shoes to fill (the first film grossed $65.6 million in its opening weekend back in 2014) as it overcomes pitiful reviews (40 percent on Metacritic) and a sour taste left behind by its predecessor (31 percent on Metacritic).
Debuting on 4,000 screens across North America and in 40 international markets (40 percent of its global footprint, with further openings scheduled), Out of the Shadows is the latest expensive ($135 million budget), action-heavy blockbuster targeting the comic book demographic, which already turned out for superhero/franchise fare like Captain America: Civil War in early May and X-Men: Apocalypse shortly thereafter. It’s unclear whether they’re already willing to make yet another trip to the theater to see a sequel to a film whose quality didn’t fare well with much of anyone in the first place.
2. X-Men: Apocalypse – $27 million
Last weekend’s box office champion, X-Men: Apocalypse, topped the chart with $65.8 million, although that was a considerable drop from the $90.8 million grossed by X-Men: Days of Future Past across its first three days of release. All X-Men titles, including Days of Future Past, tend to drop significantly from week one to week two. The lowest second week fall for an X-Men film is around 53 percent, when X2: X-Men United dipped from $85 million to $40 million back in 2003. Since then, movies in the franchise have fallen anywhere between 56 percent (X-Men: First Class) and 69 percent (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) from week-to-week, which spells trouble for Apocalypse domestically, though its foreign totals remain solid (it stands at $277 million worldwide as of Thursday).
Again, genre (and demographic) fatigue will likely take a bite out of Apocalypse‘s second weekend gross, and there’s no denying that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will steal a portion of the film’s potential audience as well.
3. Me Before You – $13.5 million
As of late, major romantic comedies are difficult to come by on the mainstream market, as only The Perfect Match (March 11) and Mother’s Day (April 29) have bowed in recent months. Me Before You, debuting Friday on around 2,600 screens with Thursday previews beginning at 7:00 p.m., seems like it has the potential to give starved genre fans everything they’re looking for; It’s based on a popular novel of the same name by Jojo Moyes, it stars Hunger Games actor Sam Claflin and the increasingly popular Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones) in the lead roles, and it enters an early summer movie season that has yet to really tap into the genre.
Call it counterprogramming or simply giving audiences what they want (the book spent over 100 weeks on USA Today’s Top 150 Best-Selling Books list), but distributor Warner Bros. likely has a modest hit on its hands as the film, produced by New Line and MGM, reportedly cost a relatively small $20 million to produce. Though matching the success of book adaptations like The Fault in Our Stars ($48 million opening in 2014) is out of the question, Me Before You seems suited to follow in the footsteps of movies like Paper Towns ($85.5 million worldwide in 2015) and If I Stay ($78.8 million worldwide in 2014) to recoup its budget.
4. Alice Through the Looking Glass – $11 million
Last weekend’s box office headlines circled on the failure of Disney’s Alice Through the Looking Glass, which grossed a paltry $26.9 million over its first three days of release, less than a fourth of what its predecessor grossed during its first weekend in 2010. Though decent worldwide numbers will help the studio recover some of the film’s hefty $170 million production costs, Alice Through the Looking Glass has already been pegged a major box office disappointment across the board. That narrative, while mostly true, will negatively impact audience desire to make a priority of seeing a movie that’s essentially been deemed a box office pariah, and Alice will fall significantly in its second weekend of release.
5. The Angry Birds Movie – $11 million
Until Finding Dory hits theaters in two weeks, audiences have only one option for widely-available family-friendly animated fare: The Angry Birds Movie, which held on strong (for a video game adaptation) over Memorial Day, pulling in $24.6 million over the four-day frame. With women and couples likely flocking to Me Before You and the adult male demo spread thin across Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows and X-Men: Apocalypse, The Angry Birds Movie is appropriately-timed counterprogramming that will snatch a healthy amount of family dollars as the Sony picture heads into its third weekend with a worldwide gross approaching $230 million as of Thursday.
Outside the top 5, Universal’s Andy Samberg-starring Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is tracking toward an opening in the $5 million range from around 2,300 theaters. Though Samberg is not a proven box office draw, Popstar boasts an aggressive digital marketing campaign targeting younger audiences, with The Lonely Island (Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer) making promotional stops on the SNL season finale, the MTV Movie Awards, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in recent months.
The Judd Apataow-produced film was budgeted at around $21 million, and features supporting performances from comedy heavy-hitters including Sarah Silverman, Maya Rudolph, and Tim Meadows, ensuring that, even if it doesn’t gross a substantial amount during its theatrical run, it’ll likely find a cult following in the years to come (its surprisingly positive reviews certainly suggest as much).
Check back on Sunday, June 5 for EW’s full box office report.