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Box Office: TURBO Movie

Turbo movieTurbo movie box office: A costly disappointment-in-the-making?

DreamWorks Animation / 20th Century Fox’s Turbo debuted on Wednesday at 3,551 North American locations, grossing a barely passable $5.55 million according to figures found at Box Office Mojo. True, Turbo isn’t a sequel like Despicable Me 2 or Monsters University, but the 3D animated feature cost a reported $135 million. Could Turbo be thus considered a domestic box office flop-in-the-making? Well, that’s much too early to tell, as animated films at times develop sturdy legs — and not only in the U.S. and Canada, but elsewhere as well. (Image: Turbo snail racer.)

(Friday, July 19, update: Following a solid Thursday midnight debut, it looks like the domestic weekend box office will belong to the low-budget horror movie The Conjuring. The paragraph below has been slightly amended to reflect that.)

Box-office pundits had been expecting Turbo to top the domestic box office chart this weekend, with approximately $28-30 million, and a five-day $35-37 million cume. All in all, a quite modest opening for a DreamWorks Animation release. Stiff competition from the Steve Carell / Kristen Wiig-voiced Despicable Me 2 and, to a lesser extent, the Billy Crystal / John Goodman / Helen Mirren-voiced Monsters University, surely aren’t helping matters many. On the plus side, Turbo has reportedly earned an ’A’ CinemaScore; we’ll see how — or if — that’ll influence the animated movie’s opening-weekend grosses.

For comparison’s sake: The Croods opened with $43.63 million earlier this year, while How to Train Your Dragon debuted with $43.73 million in 2010. True, Chicken Run opened with $17.5 million back in 2000, or about $26 million today — but at 2,491 locations, about 1,000 fewer venues than Turbo. Late last year, DreamWorks Animation’s $145 million-budgeted Rise of the Guardians, released by Paramount, was a major domestic misfire, ultimately cuming at only $103.41 million in North America (in addition to a much more respectable $200.3 million internationally).

Here’s another comparison: Disney’s Cars, without the advantage of 3D surcharges, opened with $60.11 million in 2006 — or about $73 million today.

Turbo is also opening this week in Brazil, Mexico, Russia, Argentina, and in several Southeast Asian territories.

Ryan Reynolds toplines Turbo voice cast

The Turbo voice cast includes Ryan Reynolds (who also has another movie opening this weekend, R.I.P.D., and who was one of The Croods’ voice actors), Paul Giamatti, Michael Peña, Bill Hader, Luis Guzmán, Maya Rudolph, Richard Jenkins, Samuel L. Jackson, Snoop Dogg, Ben Schwartz, Ken Jeong, Mike Bell, Michelle Rodriguez, veteran Paul Dooley (A Perfect Couple, Breaking Away), and former racing driver and Cars voice actor Mario Andretti.

Turbo marks the directing feature-film debut of voice actor and storyboard artist David Soren (Neighbors from Hell, Shark Tale), from a screenplay by Soren, Darren Lemke (Shrek Forever After, Jack the Giant Slayer), and Robert D. Siegel (Big Fan, The Wrestler).

Turbo movie image: DreamWorks Animation / 20th Century Fox.

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