'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows' struggles this summer – what has succeeded?

'Teenage' has so far grossed much less than 2014's 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' had this far into its debut. What has determined success at the box office this summer?

Jessica Miglio/Paramount Pictures/AP
'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows' stars Megan Fox (l.) and Will Arnett (r.).

During the high-profile movie season, not every movie will succeed, and the sequel “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” seems to have become the newest film to struggle following its debut.

“Teenage,” which opened on June 3, came in number one at the box office, beating the superhero film “X-Men: Apocalypse,” but the opening weekend gross for the Turtles was far below the opening weekend results for the previous film, 2014’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles." 

Also coming to theaters in recent weeks was the film “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” a follow-up to the 2010 live-action film “Alice in Wonderland,” and “X-Men: Apocalypse,” the newest entry in the superhero series. Both are being regarded as having performed below expectations financially, lagging behind their predecessors' grosses.

As the summer movie season continues, what movies have succeeded, and why? And why are some movies struggling?

For moviegoers who check what critics are saying before spending their money, just about all of the movies that have struggled financially were panned by critics. “Alice” in particular has received very negative reviews. Bad reviews for "Apocalypse" "likely made a difference with audiences in the social media age, where insta-feedback is the name of the game," Chris Eggersten of the website HitFix wrote.

And Jake Coyle of the Associated Press found that these films, all of which were continuations in a series, may show that audience members don’t need more installments for every successful story. 

“The recent sequel slump suggests that Hollywood may have become too quick on the sequel trigger – that maybe not every profitable movie deserves a second chapter, that the world might not have been craving another ‘Ninja Turtles’ or ‘Zoolander,’” Mr. Coyle writes. 

What movies have succeeded so far this summer? “Captain America: Civil War,” which also helped kick off the summer season, is probably the biggest success story – it’s currently the highest-grossing film of the year so far. In contrast to some of these other films, “Civil” succeeded “thanks to strong reviews plus solid word-of-mouth," notes Dave McNary of Variety. "The marketing for ‘Civil War’ clearly resonated with moviegoers, as it promised an epic fight between Chris Evans’ Captain America and Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, plus the introduction of Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther and Tom Holland’s Spider-Man.” 

In addition, “Civil” was part of the powerful Marvel brand, which has had few, if any, missteps. 

Another film that has done well initially is “The Angry Birds Movie,” an animated film based on the game of the same name. “Birds” surprised some observers by toppling “Civil” at the box office when it debuted in late May. 

What helped “Birds”? Awareness was high, writes Gary Susman of Moviefone. “This is the biggest campaign Sony has ever mounted for an animated feature,” Mr. Susman wrote. He notes, “Kids may not care, but grown-ups may have noticed that the voices come from performers they've liked in grown-up comic roles." Sony moved up the film's initial release date from July 1 to late May, making it the only major animated movie between March's "Zootopia" and mid-June's "Finding Dory." In other words, "it has the family demographic locked up," Susan said. 

"Birds" will soon have “Dory” to contend with, though, so industry observers will no doubt be watching to see if the film can sustain its success.

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