"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" is pulling out in front of "Guardians of the Galaxy" in what is shaping up to be a bruising fight at the weekend box office.

The reboot of the shelled warriors franchise leads the Marvel adventure in pre-sales according to Fandango. The Michael Bay-produced action film is expected to debut to roughly $40 million this weekend, but it looks like a witty marketing campaign is resounding with fans for the new Nickelodeon show and the 1990s films, TV series and toys. It's responsible for 53% of weekend ticket sales, compared to 22% for "Guardians" and 6% each for two other wide-releases, "The Hundred-Foot Journey" and "Into the Storm."

The picture is outpacing two similar, toy-oriented films, 2009's "G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra" and 2013's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" at the same point in their sales cycle, the online ticketing company reports. "Guardians of the Galaxy" is expected to make roughly $45 million in its second weekend, with "Into the Storm" and "The Hundred-Foot Journey" racking up $18 million and $10 million, respectively.

"Turtles" is also showing signs of strength on MovieTickets.com. The ticketing agency reports that the heroes in a half-shell were responsible for 25% of tickets purchased in the last 24 hours, trailing "Guardians," which ate up 30% of sales. It's not exactly apples to apples, however, as MovieTickets updates its rankings on a daily basis instead of offering projections.

Audiences are venturing out to see the Turtles in action because of a combination of Michael Bay's star power and nostalgia. Fandango surveyed more than 1,000 "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" ticket-buyers on its site and found that 87% watched the cartoon series and 82% had seen one of the previous movies.

The prospect of a "Transformers" reunion was also enticing. Michael Bay, the director of those giant robots films, is venturing into the world of amphibian martial arts and he's bringing "Transformers" star Megan Fox with him. Seventy two percent of those surveyed said they were fans of Bay, while 57% are Fox admirers.

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