High Note for ‘Pitch Perfect 2,’ Top Box Office Earner in Debut Weekend

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Box office report: Pitch Perfect 2 earns biggest movie musical opening ever.

The Elizabeth Banks-directed sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit and video on demand phenomenon cost Universal Pictures only $29 million to produce and was expected to open in the $50 million range. Photo: RICHARD CARTWRIGHT/Universal Pictures via Associated Press Heading into the weekend, analysts expected the sequel to premiere in the $40 million range. The opening weekend numbers for”Pitch Perfect 2,” which annihilated the competition with a staggering $70 million bow, illustrate the financial power of this frequently ignored consumer group. “It’s a validation of the fact that if you make movies by women for women starring women they’re going to do well,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

The first film, for comparison, grossed only $65 million domestically across its entire run. “It’s aca-awesome,” said Universal Pictures’ President of Domestic Distribution Nick Carpou. “We knew that the film would be a success, but there’s something that happens when movies grow in their success beyond a range that’s easily predictable. 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. Pitch Perfect 2 is officially the biggest movie musical opening ever, making more in its debut weekend than the first movie earned in its entire theatrical run.

What makes “Pitch Perfect 2″ something of a rarity is that it not only stars women like Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick, but its behind the scenes talent, director Elizabeth Banks and writer Kay Cannon, are also female. That topped forecasts and beat the $44.4 million opening for “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a critically acclaimed Warner Bros. reboot of the 1980s dystopian action film that propelled Mel Gibson to fame.

The original film, an acerbic comedy set in the low-stakes world of collegiate a capella singing, opened in September 2012—hardly a time of year known for major features. Its animated July feature “Minions,” spun off from “Despicable Me,” is forecast to be the No. 2 hit of the season. “We’re on track for a record-breaking summer and the strong box-office performances of ‘‘Pitch Perfect 2,’’ which drew females under 25, and ‘‘Mad Max,’’ drawing males over 25, are stepping stones on the path to that record,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a media analyst with Rentrak. In “Pitch Perfect 2,” the all-girl Barden Bellas have to sing their way back to glory after a mishap in front of an audience including the U.S. president.

This R-rated, post-apocalyptic tale has earned rave reviews, and while it wasn’t expected to break any box office records, it still brought in a solid $44.4 million. Meanwhile, Avengers: Age of Ultron made $38.8 million in its third week, bringing its global total to an estimated $1.143 billion and making it the eighth highest-grossing film of all time. This weekend’s performance is the second-highest debut for a movie directed by a woman, after Sam Taylor-Johnson’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which Universal released in February. Fellman said that many of the showings ended with applause, only adding to the hope that word of mouth will contribute to a lengthy and successful run. “Each film absolutely found its target audience,” said Dergarabedian. “They were running on parallel tracks and both exceeded expectations by not cannibalizing each other.

It was the perfect release strategy for two very different, high-profile films…it really paid off handsomely.” Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union urged state and federal agencies to launch investigations into gender discrimination at studios, TV networks and talent agencies. The dystopian movie, filled with extended car-chase scenes as Max and Furiosa flee an evil ruler across a post-apocalyptic desert, is the fourth of the “Mad Max” franchise that originally starred Mel Gibson in the 1970s and 1980s. “Fury Road” was distributed by Time Warner Inc. But Hollywood’s response to a hit like that is much easier to predict: a sequel with more characters, more chaos, more meta pop culture riffs, and more medleys (so many medleys!) than you can aca-shake a stick at.

This summer overflows with films powered by female talent: “Trainwreck,” which Amy Schumer wrote and stars in; “Spy,” with Melissa McCarthy; “Ricki and The Flash,” which features a star turn for Meryl Streep and a Diablo Cody script; and “Paper Towns,” a tween weepie that could turn Cara Delevingne into the next Shailene Woodley. It doesn’t always work, of course. “Hot Pursuit” starred Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon and was directed by Anne Fletcher, but a dearth of laughs resulted in hostile reviews and a dismal box office performance. Among them, the Teutonic menace known as Das Sound Machine—a troupe of towering Germans who sing like angels and dress like sex-club Sprockets—and the divided attention of de facto Bellas leader Beca (Anna Kendrick), who is secretly interning for a high-strung music producer (Key & Peele’s excellently mean Keegan-Michael Key). In “Fury Road,” Tom Hardy takes on the role of Max Rockatansky, roaming a barren desert when he is caught up with Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron.

PP2 sometimes feels less like a movie than a two-hour episode of Glee ghostwritten by Amy Schumer; jokes fly like they’re being shot from T-shirt guns at a gonzo pep rally, and not all of them stick the landing. With a mechanical arm, shaved head and face covered in grease, Furiosa is a rebel, fleeing the warlord Immortan Joe, played by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who controls a citadel and starts a new road war that engulfs Max. But the story also gives big, joyful voice to groups whose members have spent their whole lives being targeted because of who they are, be it black, gay, overweight, female, or just deeply uncool.

The film took such pains to be more equal opportunity in its mayhem that Miller went so far as to tap “Vagina Monologues” author Eve Ensler to serve as a consultant on the movie and advise him on ways to beef up the female roles. The forecast for the reboot’s total domestic box office gross is up to $150 million from $130 million. “Theron is brilliant with a sparse script that creates one of the strongest female characters ever in an action movie, so there is big upside potential to draw women audiences as well as men,” Dergarabedian said. In an interview with Variety, Blanchett said she it was important that actresses and the media continue to bang the drum for greater equality on screen.

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