Pitch Perfect 2 leaves Mad Max: Fury Road in the dust at US box office

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Box Office: ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ Pulls ‘Dark Knight’-Style Coup With $70M Weekend.

The ululating ladies of Pitch Perfect 2 outpaced the desert warriors of Mad Max: Fury Road with a spectacular $70.3m bow to take the top spot at the US box office over the weekend. 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. Elizabeth Banks’ comedy about an all-female troop of acapella singers overtook the $65m haul pulled in by previous instalment Pitch Perfect in just three days. 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.

Starring Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Ester Dean, the sequel sees the women of Barden University forced to enter an international competition to restore their reputation after Wilson’s Fat Amy suffers an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction during a high profile performance. 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.

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. Crowds for “Pitch Perfect 2” (Universal Pictures) were 75 percent female; “Fury Road” (Warner Bros.) played to audiences that were 70 percent male. 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.

Fury Road has benefited from the best reviews of the year so far for a genre movie, with a remarkable 98% “fresh” rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. But critical praise will now need to translate into strong word of mouth if Miller’s film is to pick up the pace rather than falling off in its second week. Controversy over the movie’s supposed feminist credentials and position of Charlize Theron as a virtual co-lead may or may not help it surpass its core fanboy audience.

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. 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. Elsewhere on the chart, superhero sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron continued to perform impressively, taking third spot with another $38.8m in its third week of release. 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. 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 top five was rounded out by Reese Witherspoon / Sofia Vergara buddy comedy Hot Pursuit, with another $5.7m in fourth for a two-week total of $23.5m, and blockbuster street racing sequel Fast & Furious 7, with another $3.64m in its seventh week for a total of $343.7m in fifth. 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.

A version of this article appears in print on 05/18/2015, on page C3 of the NewYork edition with the headline: u2018Pitch Perfect 2u2019 Cruises Past u2018Mad Max: Fury Roadu2019. 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 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. 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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