U crafts aggressive early-release strategy for pic

Though the ladies from Universal’s a capella-themed “Pitch Perfect” don’t need any accompaniment, U provided plenty over the Sept. 28-30 weekend, helping boost the pic to a $5.1 million opening frame from just 335 theaters.

U mounted an aggressive week-early release for “Pitch,” prompted by stellar scores from the film’s extensive trial screenings — part of the most extensive word-of-mouth campaign ever for the studio, according to U.

The studio also aimed to benefit from rabid online chatter by launching “Pitch” at theaters located in the top U.S. college towns.

“We’re very encouraged that our strategy to develop word-of-mouth has come together thus far,” says Nikki Rocco, prexy of domestic distribution for U.

Rocco, however, said she feels the jury is still out as to the wide success the film, and the week-early roster of hand-picked theaters is precisely why. U expanded the pic to more than 2,700 engagements in its second frame, hoping positive buzz will goose grosses in smaller markets.

Last year, Paramount similarly tried to build chatter for “Footloose” by hosting free nationwide single-screening sneaks of the reboot two weeks before its Oct. 14 bow. “Footloose” wound up cuming a just-OK $52 million domestically.

U’s teen-targeted tuner centers on a college a capella troupe (featuring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson and Anna Camp) as it prepares to compete in a national singing competition. The pic, which cost $17 million to produce, was co-financed by Universal and Gold Circle Films.

U begins rolling out the film internationally Oct. 10.

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