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4 Reasons Out of the Shadows Failed To Impress Some Audiences

“It’s never a good sign when you can’t pull in a full house for a free screening.”

That is an actual quote that I overheard at the premiere for the film. Nobody wanted this movie to succeed more than I did. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is perhaps one of the most accurate representations we have ever seen of the Ninja Turtles on the big screen, but not every audience agrees with that.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows poster. Source: Paramount Pictures.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows poster. Source: Paramount Pictures.
After dismal numbers during its opening weekend, I recently reported that the movie had bombed – and that’s a fair statement to make. Although the term “box office bomb” typically refers to a film’s entire theatrical run, one only needs to look at the history behind foreign box office numbers to see that even in the greatest situation, it will be difficult for this movie to earn its money back at the box office.

I have no doubt that Out of the Shadows will manage to justify its production budget within the next few weeks, but the production budget does not account for the costs of advertising and distribution. All told, it’s likely that this movie will need to earn at least $500 million to truly be considered successful by the studios, and that looks to be very unlikely.

The first movie made $65 million during its opening weekend in domestic markets alone, and it only managed to pull in a total of $493 million total at the box office. So far, Out of the Shadows has performed far worse than its predecessor, indicating that it might not even earn that much once all is said and done.

If you’re trying to figure out what happened here, you’re not alone. With that in mind, I’ve decided to provide my own list of reasons that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows might have failed to impress certain audiences, resulting in numbers that don’t look very awesome.

1. Too Much Advertising

If the first TMNT movie suffered from a lack of advertising (and it most certainly did), the second movie actually had too much of it. There were dozens of TV Spots, trailers and clips for the movie, resulting in a market that was almost over-saturated with all things TMNT 2.

Some reviewers even stated that they felt like they had already seen the entire movie in the advertisements, and it’s not difficult to see where they are coming from. Even one of the biggest moments in the film was shared on Youtube via clips, which might leave some audiences asking why they should even go to see the movie.

2. First Film Soured TMNT Fans

Although a lot of shellheads absolutely loved the 2014 film, the truth is that many audiences did not enjoy it. Several fans outright refused to support Out of the Shadows simply because it was a sequel to that movie. The relative authenticity of TMNT 2 simply wasn’t a factor for this audience, as they took issue with other aspects behind the production of the film.

For instance, a lot of people really dislike Michael Bay, and they simply refuse to see anything with his name on it – even if he’s just an executive producer. The look and feel of these CGI Ninja Turtles was also a big problem for many potential viewers, and neither Paramount or Platinum Dunes were willing to change much about that.

3. Focused Too Heavily On One Audience

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have changed a lot over the years. One might even say that they are in a constant state of flux. Some fans prefer the original Mirage comics, others like the 1987 cartoon; some swear by the 4Kids series while many fans are enamored with the original films of the 1990s. Each of these representations of the Ninja Turtles is wildly different in its own way, which means that it is difficult to produce anything related to the franchise without potentially offending or disappointing at least one of those fan communities. Nickelodeon managed to pull it off quite well, but that kind of success is difficult to recreate on film.

This was not the Shredder that some fans wanted to see in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Source: Paramount Pictures.
This was not the Shredder that some fans wanted to see in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. Source: Paramount.

It’s not as easy as you might think to please all TMNT fans at once; believe me, I’m always unintentionally offending someone with almost anything that I write. Out of the Shadows focused heavily on recreating the ’87 cartoon in live action, leaving little room for any other representation of the Ninja Turtles. This appears to have alienated a lot of fans who prefer a more gritty take on the turtles, with many saying that they would have preferred something closer to either the Mirage comics or the 4Kids series. When it comes to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you simply can’t please everyone.

4. Too Much Competition

While the first movie came out in the late summer, this one is smack dab in the middle of summer blockbuster territory. The 2014 film was released the week after Guardians of the Galaxy – which was pretty stiff competition – but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles still managed to produce pretty good results.

Movie poster for upcoming movie Finding Dory. Source: Disney/Pixar.
Movie poster for upcoming movie Finding Dory. Source: Disney/Pixar.
Out of the Shadows was released the week after X-men: Apocalypse, which was definitely more successful during its opening weekend, but it wasn’t as much of a runaway hit as GOTG. That being said, it’s important to remember that Captain America: Civil War is still in theaters as well, which means that there are currently no fewer than three comic book movies in theaters at the same time.

In addition to the comic book movies, Angry Birds also presents a bit of competition. Next week, Out of the Shadows will be facing off against Warcraft, a movie based on a video game franchise. The week after that, we are likely to see a large drop off in box office numbers for the film as Pixar’s Finding Dory will be hitting the silver screen.

Shortly thereafter, you can expect to see Independence Day: Resurgence in theaters alongside Steven Spielberg’s BFG. These are huge titles that are likely to make it difficult for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows to compete in the box office.

In comparison, the 2014 TMNT movie only had titles like The Expendables 3, The Giver and Let’s Be Cops to face in the weeks following its release. As you can see, the competition for Out of the Shadows is going to be a lot more difficult to overcome, and chances are that even a strong showing in foreign markets won’t help the studios earn back all of the money they have invested. The competition is simply too fierce right now, and that could have a seriously negative impact on the film’s performance in the box office.


The last thing I want to do is call this movie a failure when it still has a chance to prove successful after all is said and done. We still have yet to see the numbers from China, and that is likely to represent at least $40-$60 million in ticket sales. However, even when you factor in the potential foreign sales for the film, that figure isn’t likely to be enough to represent a significant ROI.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows movie poster. Source: Paramount Pictures.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows movie poster. Source: Paramount Pictures.
Even if it manages to perform well during its second weekend at the box office, chances are that by the time Finding Dory comes out, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows will be struggling to compete in any meaningful way when it comes to domestic numbers.

I absolutely loved Out of the Shadows, but we need to be realistic about what is happening here. Not only is this movie likely to perform worse than its predecessor, but there are several reasons for that which need to be addressed.

Several TMNT fan communities feel under-represented, and that is truly a shame. For those of you who believe I am being preemptive, I apologize if anything that I have written has offended you – but for those who are still waiting for a silver screen representation of your favorite turtles, I can’t necessarily blame you for being upset.

Ultimately, there are many reasons that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows underwhelmed at the box office during its opening weekend. Some of these issues will continue to affect ticket sales in the weeks to come, while others could slowly dissipate over time.

Paramount is likely to make a lot of money off of merchandise related to the film, so chances are that they will earn a decent profit in the end. Unfortunately, that profit isn’t likely to reveal itself until several months have passed and the film is no longer in theaters.

What do you think? Will Out of the Shadows manage to turn a profit in the end? Are these valid reasons for the results we have seen thus far? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or on facebook/twitter.

The Author

Justin W

Justin W

My name is Justin Wren and I love to write about the TMNT! I've been a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan since the late 80's. Back then, I would watch the original animated series and play with the Playmates toys all the time. I have been following the boys ever since I was a kid, and I'm very happy to see them back in the limelight after all these years. Needless to say, I'm proud to be a member of the team on this awesome TMNT Fan Site!

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