‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’ Shockingly Slays Way To No. 4 In Deadline’s 2023 Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament

Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament is back. While studios during Covid wildly embraced the theatrical day-and-date model when cinemas were closed, they soon realized there’s nothing more profitable than a theatrical release and the downstreams that come with it. If anything, theatrical is the advertisement for a movie’s longevity in subsequent home entertainment windows. Entering the conversation in 2023 were the streamers, such as Apple, who have also realized the necessity of theatrical to eventize their movies. The financial data pulled together here for Deadline’s Most Valuable Blockbuster Tournament is culled by seasoned and trusted sources.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem

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When Paramount Pictures CEO Brian Robbins was looking to revive the beloved Nickelodeon-owned Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird property Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the big screen, he got some input from Playmates executives involved in the brand’s licenses: they said the next iteration of the 40-year-old IP should be an animated film. Robbins huddled with Paramount Animation head Ramsey Ann Naito on who the best creative partner would be, and both agreed it would be Seth Rogen. Robbins had a feeling he’d be the right guy as the comedic/genre star filmmaker grew up on TMNT. They called Rogen and he immediately sprung to the idea. Rogen wrote the screenplay with his partner Evan Goldberg, as well as Dan Hernandez, Benji Samit and The Mitchells vs. The Machines filmmaker Jeff Rowe, who would direct the project.

Despite the actors strike, Paramount stuck to its summer release date as brands, particularly among family audiences, are powerful enough (see the studio’s No. 10 film on Deadline’s Blockbuster Tournament this year, PAW Patrol: The Mighty Movie). Paramount even took footage of the pic along with Rowe to San Diego Comic-Con, where it was the only major motion picture studio to tout a movie in Hall H for the 135,000-plus fanboys and fangirls who attended last year. In a summer box office dominated by Barbie, Mutant Mayhem opened to $43 million U.S. over five days, and ended its run at $118.7M stateside and $181.9M worldwide. At the domestic B.O that was a great result, well ahead of Paramount’s 2016 TMNT live-action movie Out of the Shadows, which ended out at $82M — hence mission accomplished by the studio for reviving the IP and driving ancillary sales (Skydance boss David Ellison, take triple note of Robbins’ maneuvers here). Meanwhile, the global result here is close to double what the previous animated movie, TMNT, did in 2007. Paramount is already prepping an animated sequel as well as an R-rated movie based on the fan-fave graphic novel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin, with Tyler Burton Smith writing and Walter Hamada producing through his 18hz production company. No word on which comes first. In total, all seven Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies so far have grossed $1.3 billion worldwide.



Key to greenlight here was merchandise, a line item not built into every film’s P&L. You’ll notice when we get to Barbie and The Super Mario Bros Movie it’s absent, as those movies weren’t contingent on merchandise sales. It’s also merchandise sales that enable this animated also-ran to a shocking profit point — past Oppenheimer — with a net of $204.5M. Essentially with a brand like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the movie drives the sales, and here Paramount Consumer Products counts north of 400 licenses for the film and 1,100 total for the TMNT franchise. Among those platinum licensees with Turtles merchandise tied to Mutant Mayhem were Playmates, Hasbro, Mattel, Crayola, Funko, Crocs and General Mills. Their products hit the global store shelves of Walmart, Target, Amazon, Macy’s, Kroger, Kohl’s, Primark, Smyths, The Entertainer, Soriana, Big W, Iden, Toys R Us, Mercado Libre and others. P&A was relatively low due to the movie going out during the actors strike.

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