‘Pitch Perfect 2’ Leaves ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ in the Dust

17 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

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. 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. 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. 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. George Miller’s critically acclaimed “Mad Max: Fury Road,” landed a distant second in its debut weekend with a solid and expected $44.4 million from 3,702 locations. 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.

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 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.

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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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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