Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles face off against plenty of baddies and usually win, but this weekend, they proved unable to defeat #Barbenheimer, the fan-created nickname for the dual July blockbusters that have scorched the U.S. box office. Despite being in their third weekends, both Barbie and Oppenheimer outgrossed the the Turtles’ latest animated outing, as did another movie, The Meg 2: The Trench.

Paramount Animation’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem launched in fourth place with an estimated $28 million from 3,858 theaters. (The estimates are close: Oppenheimer is at $28.7M and Meg 2 at $30M, so there could yet be some shuffling when final figures are released Monday.)

The good news here is that the Jeff Rowe-directed Turtles pic actually opened last Wednesday, and when you factor in the first two days, the film launched with a very respectable $43M. Paramount, which hasn’t had an animated hit in a very long time, is doing victory laps over TMNT’s launch. “We’re over the moon with this opening,” Chris Aronson, studio’s president of domestic distribution, told Deadline. “We exceeded pre-release expectations with this movie, which has been a labor of love for a long time.”

More good news for the $70M production: Exit poll data is fairly similar to this summer’s other big animation releases, Elemental and Across the Spider-Verse. All three films picked up an “A” Cinemascore from audiences. Meanwhile, Comscore/Screen Engine PostTrak’s exit polling found that 70% of viewers would recommend TMNT, compared to 68% for Elemental and 82% for Spider-Verse.

Demographics for TMNT were also similar to Spider-verse. For example, TMNT was 60% male, 56% 18-34 years old, and tied at 33% for Caucasian and Latino/Hispanic. Meanwhile, Spider-verse was 63% male, 61% 18-34 years old, and 34% Latino/Hispanic and 27% Caucasian.

TMNT grossed an additional $8.5M from 25 foreign territories, lifting its global total to $51.5M. It has a staggered release schedule and will open in other parts of the world throughout August and September.

As Elemental proved earlier this summer, animated films can have strong legs at the box office, and it’s still too early to project where TMNT will end up among this year’s animation releases. One thing’s for sure though: Paramount has a lot riding on the movie. The studio recently revealed that it is already working on a sequel, with Jeff Rowe again attached as director, as well as prepping a Paramount+ spinoff series, Tales of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Mutant Mayhem’s solid opening now makes those future plans possible.

After theatrically releasing just four animated features over eight years – Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank, Paw Patrol: The Movie, Wonder Park, and Sherlock Gnomes – Paramount is dropping two animated films in a two-month period. Besides TMNT, the studio will release the preschooler’s delight Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie in September.