While most critics knew it was going to be a good year for comic books at the cinema with tentpole releases "Spider-Man 3" and "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer" set for release this summer, the story of comic book dominance at the box office started much sooner than originally anticipated.
"TMNT," the third comic book inspired film of 2007, debuted in the number one spot on a crowded weekend that saw six new releases with a $25.5 million opening estimate, according to movie tracking site Box Office Mojo. Expectations for "TMNT" were unclear, as tracking on the film leading up to its debut was mixed, but that's not unusual for family friendly fare. What was unusual was the variety of audience in attendance, which included a larger than expected 18+ crowd, many of whom grew up on the original films and were obviously curious to see how their child hood favorites looked in the 21st century. The $25 million dollar opening is good news for Turtle fans as the modestly budgeted computer animated film – reportedly costing $35 million to make – will almost certainly make back its costs domestically, likely ensuring a sequel.
Comics dominated both the #1 and #2 spots this weekend, as "300" continued to clean up at the box office. In its third weekend in release, those Spartans bowed to the might of ninja trained turtles, yet it's $20.5 million dollar take was enough for the second spot on the charts, bringing the film's three week total to $162.5 million. In its third weekend, "300" fell only 37.6% from its second weekend, indicating the film still has legs and should continue to perform well in the coming weeks easily surpassing $200 million in receipts.
"TMNT" is the third comic book release of the year and the third to lead the weekend box office its opening weekend, following the debuts of "Ghost Rider" (which brought in $45.388 million its opening weekend and currently boasts a $113 million domestic take after six weeks) and "300." With four more comic themed films still to be released – "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," "Spider-Man 3," "Stardust" and "30 Days of Night" – the only question that remains is will this unbeaten streak continue through the end of the year?