The raw numbers for “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” and “Meg 2: The Trench” may still be close, but the outlook for “Mutant Mayhem” is a lot sunnier thanks to its $70 million production budget, which is just over half of what “Meg 2” cost to make. The two Michael Bay-produced live-action “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movies released in 2014 and 2016 also had Meg-sized budgets, so if we’re measuring the success of “Mutant Mayhem” on the turtle scale, the best point of comparison is the 2007 animated movie “TMNT.”
Written and directed by Kevin Munroe, “TMNT” had a production budget of $34 million, roughly equivalent to $50 million in 2023 dollars. It had a slightly stronger launch than “Mutant Mayhem” with an opening weekend gross of $24.2 million ($35.7 million, adjusted for inflation), but dropped steeply in its second weekend due to fresh competition from another animated family movie, “Meet the Robinsons.”
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem” has an advantage there. The next big animated movie on the release slate is “Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie” on September 23, which is a long way off and targeting a younger audience. Both movies are rated PG, but the only warning for “Paw Patrol” is “mild action/peril,” whereas “Mutant Mayhem” is rated PG for sequences of violence and action (aka molly-whopping), bad language (mostly from Superfly), and impolite material (big booty boy races and milking machines). Really, the wildest ninja stunt the turtle boys pulled this time around was somehow skating underneath a PG-13 label.