By Brent Lang
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" debuted to a disappointing $35.3 million over the weekend, becoming the latest sequel this year to fall short of expectations.
The pizza-munching reptiles' opening weekend was roughly half of the $65.6 million that its predecessor, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," debuted to in 2014, illustrating that not all franchises are created equal.
Several film series have struggled at the box office in recent months, with "Alice Through the Looking Glass" and "The Huntsman: Winter's War" losing millions, and other sequels and spin-offs, such as "Kung Fu Panda 3" and "X-Men: Apocalypse," failing to match the grosses of previous installments.
"Captain America: Civil War," which plays more like an "Avengers" chapter given the presence of Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man than a star-spangled follow-up, did beat the slump, going on to earn over $1.1 billion globally.
Paramount spent $135 million on the latest "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," and released the picture across 4,071 locations. It will look to foreign audiences to try to bolster the underwhelming domestic returns.
So far, the situation overseas is more promising. The film opened in 40 international markets, including Russia, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, earning $34 million. There are still several major territories left to open, the biggest being China on July 2.
The return of the turtles was enough to knock "X-Men: Apocalypse" from the top spot on the stateside charts. The superhero sequel slid more than 65% to earn $22.3 for a second place finish. The latest "X-Men" has earned $116.5 million since debuting over Memorial Day.
In third place, New Line and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer scored with the modestly budgeted "Me Before You."
The story of a caregiver (Emilia Clarke from "Game of Thrones") who falls in love with a paralyzed millionaire (Sam Claflin) opened to a solid $18.3 million. Shot for just over $20 million, "Me Before You" appealed heavily to women, with females making up more than 80% of the opening weekend audience.
The weekend's other new release, the music parody "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping," collapsed at the box office, scraping together a disastrous $4.6 million from 2,311 locations. Universal spent $20 million on the mockumentary, that stars Andy Samberg as a Justin Bieber-like music prodigy and reunites the comedian with his Lonely Island band.
Rounding out the top five, were Disney's "Alice Through the Looking Glass" with $10.7 million and Sony's "The Angry Birds Movie" with $9.7 million, pushing the family films' grosses to $50.8 million and $ million, respectively.