Mad Max: Fury Road makes $136m in opening weekend

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Pitch Perfect 2’ leaves ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ in dust.

The ladies of Pitch Perfect 2 hit all the right notes opening weekend, amassing a $70.3 million (Dh258.2 million) debut, according to Rentrak estimates on Sunday.In one weekend, it became the highest-grossing Mad Max film of all time and it’s four day return became the biggest opening for a film by its director, George Miller, who also directed Babe: Pig In The City and the two Happy Feet films.As a teenager, Mad Max: Fury Road’s supervising stunt coordinator Guy Norris toured with old-fashioned “thrill shows,” death-defying acts that traveled across Australia.”There was always a clown act with high falls and exploding fake toilets,” says Norris. “Cowboy fight scenes. 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.

The return of the popular Road Warrior character, this time played by Brit Tom Hardy, opened at the top of the Australian box office this weekend, earning $6.19m on 542 screens across its opening weekend. Internationally, the hotly-anticipated fourth film in George Miller’s apocalyptic franchise also had plenty of grunt – mowing down the opposition with a $US109.4 million tally worldwide. The first film, for comparison, grossed only $65 million in the US across its entire run. “It’s aca-awesome,” said Universal Pictures’ President of Domestic Distribution Nick Carpou, using one of the catchphrases of the film about a cappella singing. “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.

Fury Road was No 1 at the box office in almost 40 territories, including Australia, where it had the home town advantage, France, Russia, Korea and Scandinavia. Fire walls.” If a local fair paid enough, they’d crash cars and motorbikes. “Those days, we thought you could eat four-inch nails for breakfast and wipe our bum with sandpaper,” he says. “We thought we were bulletproof.” In 1980, Norris turned 21 while preparing for his first film gig: George Miller’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior—a movie, he says, that “took all those stunts we did in Evel Knievel-style thrill shows and put them on steroids.” Mad Max 2’s low-budget, brutal action style grabbed sci-fi by the scruff of its neck and dragged it down from the space opera stratosphere. “I was George’s go-to guy,” says Norris, who performed as Mel Gibson’s driving double and menaced as the marauder Bearclaw Mohawk. “Essentially every character that jumped onto the tanker was me. When that happens, the sky’s the limit.” Audiences for the musical comedy starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson were 75 per cent female and 62 per cent under the age of 25, according to Universal. Having grown up watching films (Pearl Harbor, Blair Witch 2, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, etc.) get burned for not living up to hyperbolic opening weekend predictions, I tend to stay away from pie-in-the-sky predictions. Yeah sure, in my gut I knew Gone Girl was going to hit $35m over its debut weekend and I was sure months in advance that The LEGO Movie was heading towards a $65m-$70m debut, but I also didn’t want to be the guy that poisoned the well and put said studios on the defensive when they “only” debuted with $20m and $40m respectively.

And while Max bumped the Bellas from the No 1 spot in Australia this week (grossing $6.19 million dollars on 542 screens), ’s opening figures for the previous weekend were significantly higher ($10.03 million on 427 screens). Then put on different wardrobe and jump again from a different position.” One day, Norris suggested a trick he’d done dozens of times before: a “cannonball” motorcycle stunt. On the back of rave reviews, however, and spectacular scenery and stunt action, Mad Max is expected to have longer theatrical legs than the musical sleeper. Despite the boxes, he says. “I broke my femur.” (Still, Norris limped to the set a couple days later and shot his final fight with Mel Gibson, propping his broken leg on a box just outside of the camera’s frame.) In the 34 years since, action cinema has evolved, and so has Norris. “When I first started, if you were ballsy enough to do it, you could do it,” says Norris, who’s worked on everything from Moulin Rouge to Superman Returns and David Ayer’s upcoming Suicide Squad. “We were doing things that were within the bounds of what a fit individual could physically do: Real high falls, real crashes. If it has anything resembling legs, it will outgross the likes of Grease ($188m), Chicago ($170m) and Les Miserables ($148m) to become the biggest-grossing musical ever.

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,” Dergarabedian said. “They were running on parallel tracks, and both exceeded expectations by not cannibalising each other. Now the $619m worldwide cume of Mamma Mia! isn’t quite a sure thing, and some older musicals like Grease and The Sound of Music have earned a couple bazillion dollars when adjusted for inflation, but we can have that discussion if the need arises.

What they want to see superheroes do goes way beyond what any mortal can physically do.” But Miller still felt that audiences—thrilled by MMA, fights, and Jackass-style stunts, and fight videos on YouTube—were craving old-school action. “George foresaw that people were getting tired of CG,” says Norris. “You know, the Charlie’s Angels upside down on a motorcycle with explosions behind them: There’s just no base in reality, no peril. It was the perfect release strategy for two very different, high-profile films … it really paid off handsomely.” After opening in China six days ago, the Avengers sequel brought in $185 million internationally in its fourth weekend.

The Matrix movies were very good, but a little soft.” So Miller conceived of Fury Road as an old-school action film, with practical effects and stunts, only filmed on the vast scale that audiences have come to expect from tentpole franchises. It expanded to 2,770 screens the next weekend and earned another $14m, before slowly playing out to the tune of $65m domestic and $115m worldwide on a $17 budget.

It required Norris’s massive team of stunt drivers, performers, and riggers (which peaked at 150 on some days) to collaborate for months with special effects, visual effects, and design teams for months on a total of 303 stunts sequences including seventy mainline (or particularly dangerous) stunts. “Nowadays, I’d say we do high-risk illusion,” says Norris, noting that the stunts profession is now more of a collaborative science. “You have to be very clever. You combine all the tools available to you as a filmmaker to make the action sequence look amazing but be as safe as you can possibly make it.” Now 54 and a father of two teenage sons who both worked on his Fury Road stunt crew, Norris feels “it’s been an incredible full circle,” since The Road Warrior.

It wasn’t a preordained blockbuster, but merely a somewhat unique film that captured a portion of the cultural zeitgeist and is now primed to capitalize on its loyal and ever-growing fan base. This was a pure Austin Powers play from the moment the sequel was greenlit and Universal/Comcast Corp. sold this thing without a single bump in the road. By the way, it played 75% female, 62% under age 25, 61% Caucasian, 18% Hispanic, 9% African American, 7% Asian, and 5% “other.” It has earned $108m worldwide, just shy of the first film’s $115m worldwide cume.

They had great trailers, a deluge of social media presence, a bunch of big movies (Unbroken, Fifty Shades of Grey, Furious 7, plus Lionsgate’s Hunger Games: Mockingjay part I) on which to attach said trailers leading up to the release, a Super Bowl spot, and relatively positive reviews that gave fans little reason to wait-and-see before diving in. Since he can’t possibly imagine going out with a bigger bang, Norris said he’s retiring from stunt driving after that spectacular crash. “George and I laugh quite often about it all, since I turned 21 during the making of Mad Max 2, when the most sophisticated safety equipment we had were cardboard boxes,” says Norris. “Crashing a ten ton truck was a nice way to go out.” And as a reward for taking a small chance on what in 2012 qualifies as an unconventional studio release, they get to reap the rewards in the form of this massively successful sequel.

I have a feeling that if “she” were a “he,” “he” would be getting that offer to direct Marvel/Sony’s new Spider-Man movie by the end of this sentence. I’m not going to pretend that it will make my year-end best-of list, but it’s well worth that $7 VOD charge and it’s exactly the kind of film I’m talking about when I whine about gender parity in mainstream cinema.

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