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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ Sequel to Top Box Office, But Faces Troubled Waters Ahead

The real winner this weekend could be romantic drama ”Me Before You,“ which is predicted to open with $14 million, with big fish ”Finding Dory“ making waves in two weeks

Paramount’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” is poised to come out on top this weekend as early tracking sets it at $40 million, with studio estimates closer to $37 million.

Based on the popular 1980s cartoon series, “Out of the Shadows” should emerge the victor on Sunday, beating Fox’s “X-Men: Apocalypse” for first place. But don’t let the action sequel’s probable box office supremacy fool you: The movie is swimming in treacherous waters.

The production budget for the sequel was $10 million more than the $125 million spent on making the 2014 reboot, also starring Megan Fox and Will Arnett. Yet, “TMNT 2’s” predicted $40 million opening is $25.5 million less than the grosses made during 2014’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” debut weekend.

The previous reboot ultimately barely recouped its production budget when it went on to make $191.2 million in domestic grosses. Profits from the film depended more on the $302.1 million that the movie made abroad.

The Paramount sequel will have trouble replicating that success, however, because there’s a big fish on the horizon to battle when “Finding Dory” opens two weeks later on June 17 in the U.S. and abroad. The Disney-Pixar sequel is sure to suck all the air out of any family-friendly contenders, “TMNT” included.

Paramount seems to be acutely aware of this, strategically debuting “Out of the Shadows” in 40 international markets this weekend, as they have to get while the going is good.

The “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” sequel has a current Rotten Tomatoes score of just 20 percent and features returning cast Fox and Arnett, with franchise newcomer Tyler Perry. It is set to open in approximately 4,000 theaters in North America.

Meanwhile, New Line/ MGM’s romantic drama “Me Before You,” starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin, will bring in more modest returns this weekend, expected to make about $14 million upon opening. That’s not bad at all for a film made on a production budget just higher than $20 million.

Geared toward a female audience — many of whom read the warmly-reviewed Jojo Moyes novel of the same name — the film should benefit from lack of competition from other genre films for the foreseeable future of its run. About a small town girl who forges a bond with a paralyzed man, the film opens this weekend in approximately 2,600 locations.

Finally, Universal’s comedy spoof movie, “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” is set to bomb, expected to gross only $7 million this weekend against its $21 million budget. Made by the guys behind Lonely Island and starring Andy Samberg, the film has a Rotten Tomatoes of 90 percent and is opening in roughly 2,300 theaters.