Mad Max: Fury Road tops $100m at box office

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

Max burned rubber at the Australian box office over the weekend, but the Barden Bellas kicked the Road Warrior’s butt in the US, where Pitch Perfect 2 opened to the tune of $US70.3 million.LOS ANGELES — The ladies of “Pitch Perfect 2″ hit all the right notes opening weekend, amassing a $70.3 million debut, according to Rentrak estimates Sunday. 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 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.

Rebooting the post-apocalyptic snarl of Mad Max 30 years after the original trilogy concluded, the Australian filmmaker has finally brought to fruition a revved-up vision of gloriously twisted design, propulsive momentum and resonant mythmaking. 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. 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, 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. 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. When that happens, the sky’s the limit.” Audiences for the musical comedy starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson were 75 percent female and 62 percent under the age of 25, according to Universal.

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). Technically, it’s 120 minutes long, but more accurately it runs for 400 or so kilometres, a there-and-back series of massed car chases punctuated by the clash of metal and blast of weapons. 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. As has happened repeatedly with James Bond, Tom Hardy plays the new incarnation of a familiar icon, “Mad” Max Rockatansky, the former highway patrol officer turned lone warrior in an endless desert that houses the desperate remnants of mankind.

Max remains haunted by the death of his wife and child in civilisation’s final days, but now his nightmarish visions explicitly propel him towards redemption. Shooting in the Namibian desert, Miller delivers the key first sequence in a single panoramic shot: Max trying, and failing, to outrun a gang of howling, otherworldly pursuers. 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. It emphasises not only the scale of the production – like Lawrence of Arabia, Fury Road uses the desert’s vast, beautiful sparseness to suggest the fragility of existence, although these cars go considerably faster than camels – but also the urgency of the storytelling. 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.

Max becomes the prisoner of the Way Boys, a teenage death cult who worship Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne, Mad Max’s Toecutter in 1979), a warlord who runs the Citadel, an elevated fortress whose access to water provides power alongside the self-descriptive Gas Town and Bullet Farm. 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 cannibalizing each other. 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. Max’s blood is literally draining into Nux (Nicholas Hoult), a dying War Boy, so when Joe dispatches his army to track down his lieutenant, Imperator Furiousa (Charlize Theron, with an arm digitally removed), who has absconded with a big rig and his harem of five wives, the reckless youths tie Max to the front of their retro-fitted car, a bloodline twisted around the chains.

Precious liquids – be they blood, fuel or breast milk – are recurring elements in this arid but richly red outback, and Miller’s production team fleshes out this arrestingly strange world visually; the characters are too busy driving and fighting, usually simultaneously, to offer explanation. 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. The tone is sometimes delirious, even with Hardy playing Max with an almost doleful air of taciturn resilience, but the film’s physical heft is paramount. Whether shot from alongside a spiked hubcap or high above, the dozens of vehicles wending their way across the desert, and the debris from their numerous high speed collisions, appear genuine.

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. To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here. 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.

The pair are both warriors, but from the first sighting of the wives draped in virginal white and removing chastity belts, gender fuels the movie’s thematic pull. Furiosa, herself a “stolen” child, is determined to deliver Joe’s slaves to a better place, and in a world destroyed by male madness – Nux appears to never have conversed with a woman – females deliver the promise of renewal. Mad Max: Fury Road is relevant, rigorous and distinctly Australian – when the fast need to go faster, they scream “fang it!” George Miller hears them loud and clear. 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.

Photo: Reuters On paper, it looked enticing: a high-stakes drama of love and loss by Gus Van Sant starring Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and Australian Naomi Watts and mostly set in Japan. But , premiering Saturday in competition for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, has landed with a thud at its press previews, garnering the first big boos of this year’s edition. The picture, also featuring Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, drew unintended laughs and derisive whistles from the Cannes crowd, never shy about audibly expressing its views. “I love logic, I love science. McConaughey’s career has been flying high since he bagged an Academy award last year for Dallas Buyers Club and critical adulation for his role in the television series True Detective.

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. In the film, Arthur performs a Google search looking for “the perfect place to die” and ends up wandering through a dense forest near the foothills of Mount Fuji that attracts dozens of depressed people each year. Through conversations about their lives (mainly Arthur’s, in fact) and flashbacks, Van Sant shows Arthur’s downward spiral back in Massachusetts with an alcoholic wife, played by Watts, and a stalling academic career. Takumi leads Arthur on a rough hike that becomes a spiritual journey to examine where it all went wrong, complete with dialogue offering platitudes about science not offering all the answers to life’s questions.

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. A plot twist that most viewers saw coming and a sentimental ending accompanied by swelling string music seemed to nix Van Sant’s shot at claiming a second Palme d’Or after his 2003 triumph with Elephant.

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