LOS ANGELES — Michelangelo and his gang will rush back into theaters this weekend with the return of popular franchise “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
The Michael Bay-produced film is expected to open with a solid $50 million in ticket sales through Sunday in the U.S. and Canada, putting it in a tight race for No. 1 with last weekend’s box office winner, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys.
The Marvel comic book flick starring Chris Pratt is likely to take in $40 million to $45 million during its second weekend in theaters.
None of the other films debuting this weekend are expected to attract nearly as many moviegoers.
Of the three new offerings, the thriller “Into the Storm” probably will fare best with a $15 million start. The dance film “Step Up: All In,” the fifth installment in the popular overseas franchise, is expected to gross about $10 million.
Meanwhile, Walt Disney Studios’ “100 Foot Journey,” produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake, is expected to gross roughly $8 million.
“This is a typical August weekend, loaded with titles trying to get in on the summer movie season in the home stretch before Labor Day,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at the entertainment data firm Rentrak, told the Los Angeles Times.
Director Jonathan Liebesman’s “Ninja Turtles” remake, starring Megan Fox and Will Arnett, follows the turtles as they attempt to save the city from Shredder and his evil Foot Clan, with help from reporter April O’Neil (Fox) and cameraman Vern Fenwick (Arnett).
The film, distributed by Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies, cost about $125 million to make.
As of Thursday, 93 percent of audiences said they wanted to see the film on Rotten Tomatoes. But so far, reviews have not been as strong — the film scored 24 percent on the “tomatometer.”
“ ‘Guardians’ was a big beast so who knows what will happen,” Liebesman told the Times at the film’s Los Angeles premiere Sunday. “I hope people turn out to see Ninja Turtles. Fans have been vocal.”
Now entering its second weekend, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which cost about $170 million to make, has already grossed about $127 million in the U.S. and Canada and $219 million globally.
The James Gunn-directed film earned a 92 percent on the “tomatometer” on Rotten Tomatoes, as of Thursday, and 96 percent of audiences said they liked it.
For moviegoers seeking a different kind of franchise, “Step Up: All In” will also hit theaters.
The film, starring Ryan Guzman and Briana Evigan, received a 57 percent on the “tomatometer” and 83 percent of audiences said they want to see it.
Based on the novel by Richard C. Morais, “The Hundred-Foot Journey,” starring Helen Mirren, is about a culinary rivalry between an Indian family’s restaurant and a local restaurant in a small French village.
Disney expects the film, which cost about $22 million to make, to gross about $10 million in its opening weekend.
“Into the Storm,” which cost about $50 million to make, follows people in the town of Silverton as they attempt to maneuver tornadoes that all occur all on one day. Warner Bros. expects the film to make about $17 million in the box office this weekend.
CBS Films’ “What If,” starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, will also open this weekend in limited release. The film, which received a 76 percent on the “tomatometer,” is about a medical school dropout named Wallace (Radcliffe) who falls for his friend Chantry (Kazan).
“I like to call August the ‘Grindhouse’ of months because of the diverse and sometimes edgy, offbeat content,” Dergarabedian said.