Sequel Fears Quite Real….

Posted: 06/06/2016 in Uncategorized

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‘Ninja Turtles 2’ Box Office Is Terrible News For ‘Justice League’

Scott Mendelson

CONTRIBUTOR

I cover the film industry. 

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

I have to say, I could not have put it better. Suicide Squad, the company’s next foray –  will be DC/WB’s rise or fall. If it hits, it will act as a soft reboot of the Batman standalone films headed by Ben Affleck. If it hits, it can lead to a steady, viable franchise for this organization. If it fails, JL parts 1 & II, Aquaman and Flash will be non-issues. Success can’t be measured strictly in dollars but when the critical reviews mirror financial outcomes and a nearly 900 million dollar effort is deemed a failure, a lot is at stake. I don’t enjoy poking at these guys, but I have seen the potential of what they can do, namely the Chris Nolan Dark Knight trilogy and Watchmen. I am optmistic as regards Wonder Woman, a character who has been held back for far too long. I do delight that Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince/ Wonder Woman is the only character who left audiences feeling both interested and enthused. I hope DC can rise to the level promised and stop presenting the humorless, over-dark grittiness they think fans want. Here’s hoping. REC.

‘Batman v Superman’ image courtesy of Warner Bros.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows is a textbook example of what I like to call “The Tomb Raider Trap.” In short, Paramount/Viacom VIAB -0.24%‘s Tomb Raider was a pretty terrible franchise starter (and horribly butchered in the editing room) that nonetheless opened huge thanks to star power, marketing, and brand interest. Two years later, The Cradle of Life made 43% less worldwide despite being a noticeably better movie.

The second Platinum Dunes-produced TMNT reboot is everything we wanted the first film to be, yet audiences who were burned two years ago (or got their fill of the franchise for awhile) stayed home, and it’s probably going to make around 45% less in America for Paramount. That should be terrifying news for Justice League.

It occurred to me as I was watching Out of the Shadows that it served as a perfect template for how to make a crowd-pleasing Justice League movie from where Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice left off. It’s more colorful, it’s lighter, it’s more kid-friendly without losing its edge, and it’s filled with creative action and genuine character chemistry. And it still absolutely feels like a sequel to the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is as remarkable a 180-degree turn in a franchise the second time out as I can remember. Despite doing everything right the second time around, this new TMNT movie is going to struggle to crack $100m domestic from a predecessor that soared to $191m two summers ago.

So will Warner Bros./Time Warner TWX +0.07% Inc., Zack Snyder, and friends making a Justice League that is wholly superior to Dawn of Justice be enough? Dawn of Justice is a vastly better film than the previous TMNT movie (I very much would love to see the “Ultimate Edition” in theaters), and this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. Justice League (or whatever it’s called) will face a skeptical public who either didn’t like Man of Steel and/or Batman v Superman or just weren’t terribly taken with them. Even if Warner delivers the Justice League movie that we’ve been waiting for, it’s entirely possible that audiences won’t rush in having been burned not once, but twice already.

While Dawn of Justice did make 30% more than Man of Steel worldwide and 12% more domestic, many pains were taking to sell that film not as a Man of Steel sequel but as a “new” movie that offered the first-ever team up of Batman and Superman along with the big-screen debut of Wonder Woman. What is Justice League going to offer that Dawn of Justice didn’t in terms of “added value elements”? And even if it does offer better character interaction and three new heroes in the mix (Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg), you can’t make the case that it’s not a direct sequel to Dawn of Justice. Besides, Out of the Shadows was filled with added value elements, and they didn’t help.

Now for the record, I am not saying that Justice League is going to make 45% less than Dawn of Justice in domestic theatrical release. But there may be a ceiling regarding how well a superb and “welcomed with open arms” Justice League can do by being the sequel to the mostly rejected Batman v Superman. Like Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBatman v Superman was a big hit despite being relatively disliked by the populace around the world. So it may be unrealistic to expect that much of a bounce compared to Dawn of Justice even if Justice League is everything we hoped it would be because there will be a penalty for screwing up the first time.

As I’ve noted before, with the arguable exception of Twilight, there has never been a remotely “big” sequel-rich franchise in modern times that started with a critically trashed initial installment. Even the first Transformers got relatively positive reviews. If the DC Films universe (or whatever they are calling it now) pulls this off, it will be a monumental achievement. But the underperformance of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows should give Warner Bros., or at least we box office pundits pause. The second Ninja Turtles movie couldn’t recover from the disliked/dismissed initial installment even though it was an actual “fix every mistake” sequel. If I’m a bean counter at Warner Bros., that’s not good news for me.

Man of Steel 2 was able to escape the Tomb Raider Trap by becoming Batman v Superman. But next time out, there will be no plausible escape and the new superhero team-up epic will have to wrestle with the legacy of both Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice. I’m not saying that Justice League: Challenge of the Superfriends (there’s your title right there!) is going to make noticeably less than Batman v Superman, although history (Addams Family ValuesCradle of LifeAngels & DemonsOut of the Shadows, etc.) shows that it might. But I think we need to come to terms with the idea that even the best possible Justice League movie may have to settle for around what Dawn of Justice did.

But the good news is that if it’s wonderful then Justice League 2: Galactic Guardians (again, there’s your title for your “Green Lantern joins up to help the JLA take out Darkseid” epic) will benefit.

 

Source: Forbes

 

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