Box office: ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ crescendos past ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ to $70.3 million

17 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Box Office: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Scores Lovely $44M Weekend.

In perhaps the most striking example yet of the growing power of female ticket buyers at the North American box office, the girl-powered PG-13 musical “Pitch Perfect 2” took in a hefty $70.3 million over the weekend, streaking past “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which was aimed primarily at men.That opening-weekend debut is already about $5 million more than the entire theatrical run of “Pitch Perfect,” the 2012 acerbic comedy set in the low-stakes world of collegiate a cappella.Nicholas Hoult was born four years after the third Mad Max film hit theatres in 1985, but that didn’t mean he missed out on the lasting influence of the adrenaline-fuelled, post-apocalyptic saga. “All these films I’ve seen, I suddenly saw where their ideas came from or where it all sprung from — the brilliant mind of George Miller,” he said. Heading into the weekend, analysts expected the sequel to premiere in the $40 million range, but little about the “Pitch Perfect” franchise has made sense by traditional Hollywood rules.

The film, starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson opened with sales of $70.3 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, Rentrak Corp. said Sunday in an e-mailed statement. Overseas, Pitch Perfect 2 debuted to an equally stellar $38.1 million from 29 markets for a world total of $108.4 million, just shy of the $115 million earned all in by the original movie. It’s one of those odd situations where a film debuts right in line with realistic expectations and/or tracking guestimates, and yet finds itself on the defense because the film turned out to be better than expected. Males made up the vast majority of Mad Max’s audience, while 46 percent were under the age of 25. (That’s not a bad turnout for a sequel to a film that opened in 1980.) The issue Fury Road faces is that it cost at least $150 million to make. There would be about 150 stunt guys and there was a training centre and gym where everyone would do group sessions where they would learn and feel what it meant to be a War Boy in that time.

Next month, the studio releases “Jurassic World,” a reboot of the Steven Spielberg classic, and the R-rated comedy “Ted 2” about a foul-mouthed teddy bear. Obviously that was not the case, although we shouldn’t assume that the rave reviews didn’t merely assure a strong $40m+ even in the shadow of Pitch Perfect 2‘s peak-level bow. Hugh would come along and be the leader and he’d repeat nursery rhymes and everyone would chant with him and it became a little bit of this odd cult thing. In terms of fellow female-driven films, the sequel opened just ahead of the first Twilight and Maleficent, both of which launched to roughly $69 million.

If it has a small drop next weekend, which it very well may with the Memorial Day weekend as a buffer, then we can talk about the reviews and the word-of-mouth. Hollywood saw a similar scenario play out in 1999 with the sequel “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” The first “Austin Powers” movie took in $54 million domestically over its entire 1997 run. A lot of big films nowadays are quite generic in a way, they don’t take a lot of risks. [In this film] there are characters that aren’t archetypal characters of what you’re used to seeing in film.

The dystopian action movie from director George Miller is the fourth of the “Mad Max” franchise that originally starred Mel Gibson in the 1970’s and 1980’s. “Mad Max” has collected some of the strongest reviews of any movie so far this year, which could help its performance in the long run. They are not all good or bad or black or white, it’s this mix of humanity trying to survive in extreme conditions, and through that, some really visually stunning action. For the weekend, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (Disney) was hot on the heels of “Fury Road,” taking in about $38.8 million, for a three-week domestic total of $372 million, according to Rentrak, which compiles box office data.

I cannot predict at this juncture if the film will gross enough here and abroad to justify the $150 million price tag expended by Rat Pac and Village Roadshow, but I can say that Warner basically did everything they could short of giving away all the good parts in order to sell the film. The superhero film opened in China this week, pulling in $156.3 million in its first six days in the country, which marks the second-biggest weekend of all time at the China box office.

They had the film of course, and they cut some eye-popping trailers that truly made this film feel one-of-a-kind, and they screened it early enough to build critical buzz. Heck, they even let the embargo drop a day earlier than intended when they saw the writing on the wall and noticed critics like me desperate to tell the world how wonderful this film was. They had to know that the film would get buzz based on its surprisingly non-patriarchal leanings, and this feels not unlike Fox cutting Live Free or Die Hard to a PG-13 to get the kids but then opening it against Pixar’s Ratatouille.

I don’t particularly need to see a new trilogy of Mad Max movies and it’s hard for me to root too much for a film whose success will mostly inspire Hollywood to further raid their franchise vaults for decades-old properties to revive. But it’s not like its theoretical underperformance down the line will have any bad lessons since it’s such a unique cocktail of elements unlikely to be replicated in the future.

And even if Hollywood doesn’t necessarily learn the best lessons from its surprise triumphs, filmmakers certainly do and I can be optimistic and presume that 70-year old George Miller just challenged an entire generation of genre filmmakers on everything from quality of action to practical effects and realism-enhancing CGI to gender parity.

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