Tomorrowland Narrowly Beats Pitch Perfect 2 in Disappointing Debut

25 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Box Office: ‘Tomorrowland’ Narrowly Beats ‘Pitch Perfect 2′ in Disappointing Debut.

Brad Bird’s tentpole Tomorrowland has narrowly pulled ahead of blockbuster Pitch Perfect 2 at the Memorial Day box office with an estimated three-day debut of $32.2 million, putting its four-day domestic launch at a disappointing $40.7 million for powerhouse Disney.LOS ANGELES — Disney’s big-budget “Tomorrowland” was a relative bust at the domestic box office over the holiday weekend, a result that will likely make Hollywood even more reluctant to invest in original stories.“Tomorrowland,” a new George Clooney sci-fi feature from Walt Disney Co,, topped the North American box office in its debut over a sluggish Memorial Day weekend.A $190 million summer blockbuster starring George Clooney based on an area in a Disney theme park hits theaters, presumably hoping to rake in at least that much at the box office.

Three-day total ticket sales were about $151 million, a decline from a year earlier when they tallied $186.7 million and much less than 2013’s “Fast & Furious 6”-fueled record take of $254.6 million, said researcher Rentrak Corp. Its narrative goal, however: to get you to stop caring so much about the vapid capitalistic things that are ruining us all and instead maybe do something to make the world a better place. This marks the first year since 2012 that the long weekend hasn’t seen a film open with $100 million in domestic ticket sales. “Tomorrowland,” its name culled from Disney theme parks, collected $32.2 million in the U.S and Canada, according to data from Rentrak. Long-story short, that’s not a great number, just a bit above the $25m-$30m debuts of mega-budget whiffs like John Carter, Prince of Persia, Jack the Giant Slayer, and Battleship. Tomorrowland came in behind expectations in North America, and will need to overcome its so-so B CinemaScore and enjoy strong word of mouth in order to end up in the black, considering the live-action fantasy adventure cost $180 million to produce.

The only other new wide-release movie was a remake of “Poltergeist” (20th Century Fox), which analysts said on Sunday would take in about $27.7 million, a solid result for a PG-13-rated horror film that cost Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer a modest $35 million to make. “Tomorrowland” was the No. 1 movie, but it only narrowly beat a holdover: “Pitch Perfect 2” (Universal Pictures) will sell an estimated $37.9 million in tickets over the four-day period, for a two-week domestic total of $125.4 million. The film stars Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Raffey Cassidy, and Hugh Laurie in a story about a young girl who stumbles upon a secret alternate world which resembles the would-be futuristic utopias dreamed about back in the 1950′s and 1960′s. In “Tomorrowland,” Clooney plays a former boy genius Frank Walker, who has become jaded and disillusioned until he meets Casey Newton, played by Britt Robertson. The somewhat cryptic marketing campaign has struggled to sell the film to kids and parents based mostly on George Clooney’s star power and the promise of unrevealed treasures to be revealed. More importantly, the film was hit by surprisingly negative reviews, with few raves and even the mixed-positive reviews (like mine) bending over backwards to praise the intent if not the execution, while all-but-admitting that the so-called mystery box wasn’t hiding anything beyond merely unspoiled story beats.

Disney hopes that a shortage of family-friendly movies in the weeks ahead will allow “Tomorrowland” to find a bigger audience in the United States and Canada. Newton, the daughter of a NASA engineer who is about to be fired now that the space program has been all but shut down, teams up with Walker to unearth the secrets of “Tomorrowland” Two-time Oscar winner Brad Bird, writer and director of “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille,” co-wrote and directed the movie. “Lost” co-creator Damon Lindelof co-wrote the screenplay with Bird. “‘Tomorrowland’ has a tendency to feel out of control, a film that is finally more ambitious than accomplished,” Kenneth Turan wrote in the Los Angeles Times. The Mouse House did something interesting a couple weeks ago, whereby they invited a select group of “Mommy Bloggers” to the world premiere in Anaheim’s Disneyland park and had them participate in the junket interview process.

I don’t pretend to be an expert in said blogging sub-genre, but the end result is that the film got some comparatively in-depth coverage in outlets that reach audiences beyond the film nerds and general talk show/magazine crowd. The next part is the wee bit of sci-fi wonkiness: Casey is recruited by an ageless adolescent android who gives her a pin that transports her to Tomorrowland—a Jetsons-like utopia where the brightest, purest minds in the world were meant to gather to manufacture the brightest future possible. George Clooney, at one point decades earlier, was also gifted a pin and access to this utopia, where he was once swept away by the romance and promise of a blissful tomorrow. Decades later, now that Tomorrowland is all but defunct, his character is a crusty old man who passes his days staring at a bank of TV sets playing clips from 24-hour news stations detailing the disastrous state of our present: global warming, famine, wildfire, drought, climate change, endless war, endless disease.

Overseas, the sequel earned another $15.2 million from 37 markets for a dazzling foreign total of $61.7 million and worldwide haul of $187 million through Monday (that includes just north of $125 million in North America). A genius inventor in his own right, Clooney’s character fashioned a countdown clock, ticking away to the moment that these things—most of which are disasters of our making, consequences of our selfish behavior—will cause Armageddon. To that regard, it’s Clooney’s character who is the stand-in for the audience, not, as it initially seemed, our gumptious young heroine, who is fueled on her pursuit to fix the world by her own personal jetpack of boundless optimism and limitless dreaming.

Age of Ultron has now grossed $860 million internationally, including $210 million in China, for a global haul of $1.263 billion, the seventh-bet showing of all time and passing up Iron Man 3 this weekend. We’re talking around 2.0x for the frontloaded films (Fast & Furious 6, X-Men: Days of Future Past) and over/under 2.5x for the leggier ones (Bruce Almighty, Men in Black 3, Night at the Museum 2). He’s the one who, like all of us, is educated on the environmental issues and human behaviors that are leading to the destruction of the Earth and the end of civilization. After Tomorrowland, the other new Memorial Day offering is MGM and Fox 2000’s Poltergeist, which posted a three-day gross of $23 million for an estimated $27.7 million four-day opening, putting it at No. 4, just behind holdover Mad Max: Fury Road.

Barring some strong legs and/or overseas might, neither of which I am ruling out, this isn’t promising for the ambitious original in a sea of sequels and reboots. The remake of the classic 1982 Steven Spielberg Tobe Hopper-directed haunted house thriller was supposed to debut on February 13th of this year before getting bumped to July 24th and then bumped again to May 22nd.

Movies that try to take audiences to multiple worlds at once — “Green Lantern,” “Jupiter Ascending,” “Tron: Legacy” — are difficult to market. The good news: Even if “Tomorrowland” ends up losing a substantial amount of money, Walt Disney Studios has a cushion from its Marvel and Pixar units. “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” has taken in $1.3 billion worldwide. But it was George Miller’s holdover Fury Road that topped the international box office overall with $38.2 million from 70 markets, pushing the movie’s global total to north of $212 million for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures. Of course it’s fitting that studios would spend this much on a remake as opposed to an original, but that’s why the “okay” Of course it’s fitting that studios would spend this much on a remake as opposed to an original, but that’s why the “okay” box office figures posted by It Follows made me a little cranky a couple months ago, so on that note I hope Guillermo Del Toro‘s Crimson Peak does big business this October for Universal.

I don’t mean to pick on Poltergeist (there are a ton of good actors like Sam Rockwell, Jane Adams, and Jared Harris involved), so let’s just do the numbers. Clooney has been admirably resistant to big, traditional summer blockbusters—save for one nippled Caped Crusader catastrophe—in his career, and is therefore making a very pointed and deliberate decision in making Tomorrowland, and the values and morals it proliferates, his rare foray into the genre. You’re a more closed-off and insulated person than even Tomorrowland speculates you are if you’re not aware of Clooney’s own celebrity-turned-superhero crusades.

Though one of the most steadily employed actors in Hollywood, he’s often eschewed discussion of his film work in favor of his humanitarian efforts and accomplishments as an activist: as a United Nations Messenger of Peace, advocate for a resolution in the Darfur genocide, work as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and, his involvement in the Not On Our Watch Project, which focuses on raising global attention for mass atrocities around the world—an effort certainly resonant in the message of Tomorrowland. Join me next week when Cameron Crowe’s Aloha! (starring Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Rachel McAdams) squares off against Dwayne The Rock Johnson’s earthquake spectacular San Andreas. And, in one hilarious quip from Hugh Laurie, playing a bit of a villain-as-moral-arbiter in the film, how bonkers it is that our globe simultaneously is facing obesity and starvation epidemics.

These are heady things to think about, and it’s at times off-putting how sincerely Tomorrowland wears its heart on its sleeve, or how it sometimes tends toward finger-wagging didacticism. That typically refers to how many different, new, and spectacular ways studios can blow up things, transport us to other dimensions, and delight us with whizbangs and kabooms. How do you wake people up out of their somnambulant compliance and get them not just optimistic about the future, but engaged in charting the direction of it? In fact, a lot of the scoffing at the film’s Big Idea ambition speaks to the jadedness and state of culture that Tomorrowland actually seeks to expose and confront. As he told New York magazine, quite self-satisfyingly, “This is a very different sort of conversation than you have for most summer movies, isn’t it?”

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