Weekend Box Office : Ninja Turtles Capture Top Spot

Movie critics were not able to see “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III” before it opened in U.S. theaters on Friday, so there were none of the predictably bad reviews until Monday morning. Of course, none of that mattered, since the core audience for the four comic-book, “Yo!"-shouting, karate-kicking turtles is kids.

Over the weekend, especially on Saturday, they flocked to theaters and bought a hefty $12.4-million worth of tickets. It was the year’s biggest non-holiday opening weekend to date. (“Groundhog Day,” which opened on the long, Presidents Day weekend, grossed $14 million.)

This $20-million version of the Ninja Turtles saga, subtitled “The Turtles are Back . . . in Time,” is the most expensive of the trio--but it looks to be the slowest grossing. The previous two--both also opening in March--did much better faster: 1990’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” grossed $25 million the first weekend and went on to collect $138 million; then came “Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze,” which opened to $20 million and eventually topped out at $78 million.

Last week’s first-place film, “CB4,” fell to fourth this weekend, while last week’s No. 2, “Fire in the Sky,” dropped to third. The Bridget Fonda vehicle “Point of No Return” opened in second with a strong $7.1 million.


The weekend showed a rebound from the anemic grosses a weekend earlier, when moviegoing in a large part of the nation was curtailed due to blizzard conditions.

Weekend Gross/ Screens/ Weeks in Movie (Studio) Total (millions) Average Release 1. “Ninja Turtles III” $12.4 2,087 1 (New Line) $13 $5,951 2. “Point of No Return” $7.1 1,545 1 (Warner Bros.) $7.1 $4,635 3. “Fire in the Sky” $4 1,435 2 (Paramount) $12.3 $2,796 4. “CB4" $3.8 1,226 2 (Universal) $11.9 $3,130 5. “Groundhog Day” $3.7 1,726 6 (Columbia) $53.5 $2,130 6. “Falling Down” $3.5 1,761 4 (Warner Bros.) $30.5 $1,999 7. “The Crying Game” $3.3 1,044 17 (Miramax) $43 $3,206 8. “A Far Off Place” $3.1 1,622 2 (Walt Disney) $8 $1,940 9. “Homeward Bound” $2.2 1,534 7 (Walt Disney) $35.2 $1,407 10. “Aladdin” $1.9 1,127 19 (Walt Disney) $193.4 $1,682

SOURCE: Exhibitor Relations Co.