“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” roundhouse kicked “Guardians of the Galaxy” out of the top box office spot this weekend, taking in $65 million for the fourth-highest U.S. opening so far in 2014.
The live action reboot of the animated series that rose to popularity in the late 1980s overcame expectations (and dismal reviews) to steal first place from the first installment of Marvel’s newest franchise. The critical and commercial hit from the Disney-owned studio held strong at $41.5 million in its second domestic weekend, and Warner Bros. “Into the Storm” came in at a distant third with $18 million, according to preliminary estimates from Rentrak.
Globally, both “Maleficent” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” hit box office milestones. Buoyed by a number-one opening weekend in Germany, 20th Century Fox’s “Planet” crossed the $500 international box office mark, as did “Maleficent,” keeping Disney’s summer winning streak on pace.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” has earned $313 million worldwide so far, but has yet to open in China, Japan and several European markets. A China opening date has not yet been set for “Guardians,” which was only recently given the green light for release there, as Chinese film officials restrict the number of foreign imports in a continuing effort to strengthen China’s own film industry. Marvel’s most recent success in China with “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” which took in over $115 million, no doubt helped convince Chinese film officials to open the gates for “Guardians.” It will be curious to see how Chinese audiences, who are historically enthusiastic about Hollywood franchises, receive “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which has enjoyed remarkably strong reviews but introduces new characters unfamiliar to all but die-hard comic book enthusiasts.
Speaking of franchises, “Transformers: Age of Extinction” remains larger than life in China after setting a new box office record there which has helped it become the 9th-highest-grossing movie of all time – so far -- according to recent numbers published by Deadline. As IBTimes previously noted, the fourth installment of the “Transformers” franchise was developed with Chinese audiences in mind: It incorporates Chinese actors, includes scenes filmed in mainland China, and is heavy on Chinese product placement – perhaps a harbinger of things to come as U.S. studios are becoming more and more reliant on international markets.
"Hollywood realizes that by adding these China elements, the movie can indeed achieve huge success in the Chinese market,” Yin Hong, a professor of film and television at a Bejing University, told NPR on Monday.