Box Office: ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ Races Past ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ With Outstanding $70.3 Million

Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch Perfect 2” hit all the right notes at the box office, snagging first place on the charts with a smashing $70.3 million debut despite fierce competition from “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Universal’s a cappella sequel earned more in its first weekend than the $65 million that the original “Pitch Perfect” pulled in during its entire North American theatrical run. The only comparable performance is “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” which opened with $54.9 million in 1999, more than the $53.9 million that the first spy satire generated during its domestic engagement.

Like the first “Austin Powers” film, “Pitch Perfect” put up big numbers on home entertainment platforms, allowing people to catch up with a movie they may have missed while it was in theaters. Add to that the ubiquity of the breakout number from the first film, “Cups,” and shows it inspired such as the reality series “Sing it On,” and it’s easy to understand the surge in interest between the two installments.

“People loved the first movie and it resonated well beyond that $65 million that the first film did,” said Nick Carpou, Universal’s domestic distribution chief. “This was original [intellectual property] for us and to be able to build on the first film and expand its popularity is pretty amazing.”

“Pitch Perfect 2” brought back original stars Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, along with newcomer Hailee Steinfeld. It marks Elizabeth Banks’ feature film directorial debut and is the second-highest opening for a film by a female director, behind only Sam Taylor-Johnson’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which kicked off with $85.2 million last winter. It’s also the highest opening for a first-time feature film director, the biggest musical opening and the second-biggest PG-13 comedy opening in history.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” also put up solid numbers, racking up $44.4 million across 3,702 locations. The Warner Bros. release capitalized on rapturous critical notices with some reviewers tossing around words like “genius” and “masterpiece.”

“It’s a film where there’s a lot of applause at the end of the movie,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief. “A lot of people coming to the movie went purely on the reviews. The conversation about it is so strong about what an incredible ride this is that it’s going to propel us right into the meat of the summer.”

“Mad Max: Fury Road” needed the critical notices, because three decades separated chapters in the apocalyptic franchise and original star Mel Gibson aged out of the role/had one intemperate outburst too many and had to be replaced by Tom Hardy. Moreover, the film carries an R rating which prevents teenagers from attending the picture without a parent or guardian, potentially limiting its audience.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” has much more ground to make up before it pushes into profitable terrain. “Pitch Perfect 2” cost a modest $29 million to produce, while “Mad Max: Fury Road” carries a $150 million price tag.

There was a clear gender divide when it came to the weekend’s top two releases. The crowd for “Mad Max: Fury Road” was 70% male, while the opening weekend audience for “Pitch Perfect 2” was 75% female. Ticketbuyers for the a cappella sequel were younger, with 62% under the age of 25. The audience was 61% Caucasian, 18% Hispanic, 9% African-American and 7% Asian.

“Mad Max: Fury Road’s” debut drew a crowd that was 46% under the age of 35, with 46% of ticket buyers opting to experience the futuristic desert wasteland in 3D.

“When Hollywood gets it right, this is the kind of weekend that happens,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “You had two very different movies that were both well reviewed, both found their target audience and both flourished.”

The sequels’ strong performances pushed “Avengers: Age of Ultron” from its perch atop box office charts. The Marvel and Disney sequel had to settle for third place and a $38.8 million finish. Its domestic total stands at $372 million.

“Hot Pursuit” clocked in at a distant fourth place with $5.8 million. The critically excoriated comedy has earned $23.5 million in two weeks in theaters.

Among art house releases, Bleecker Street’s “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” a bittersweet comedy with Blythe Danner, opened in limited release to $49,340 from three theaters for a per-screen average of $16,447. It will expand to 11 markets and 18 theaters next weekend, including cities such as San Diego, Boca Raton and Scottsdale that have large populations of boomers.

“It’s a film that speaks to that core audience, because its subject matter is life in your sixties and seventies,” said Jack Foley, head of distribution at Bleecker Street.

A24’s “Ex Machina” continued to be a solid performer, earning $2.1 million from 1,718 screens and pushing its gross to $19.6 million.

The strong performance of “Pitch Perfect 2” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” pushed the overall box office above the year-ago period when “Godzilla” smashed its way to a $93.2 million debut. It all but guarantees that this isn’t the last moviegoers will see or hear of the Barden Bellas.

Asked if there will be a “Pitch Perfect 3,” Carpou responded, “Yes, how’s that for being subtle?”

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  1. Ok, I wonder how many went because of the Green Bay Packers that are in it? Why I will be seeing it! Guessing quite a few!!!

  2. Stergios says:

    Mad Max: Fury Road is a movie of such wildly cinematic pleasure that deserves to be seen in a theatre multiple times. Really enjoyed Pitch Perfect and I’m planning on watching the sequel (not necessarily in a movie theatre). I saw Mad Max: Fury Road two times in a movie theatre already. Hadn’t done that before for any movie. Hadn’t been impressed though with a mainstream action movie that much in a really long time. This is a movie that deserves to smash box office records both domestically and internationally and even if that’s probably not going to happen, I hope the total box office run will help us see more adventures with Max Rockatansky (and hopefully the amazing Furiosa).

  3. Josh says:

    Mad Max beat PP2 in Worldwide Sales. Unless you think money isn’t always money, that’s a win. Domestic vs International are two different things, but the headline didn’t really qualify itself did it?

  4. Alex says:

    As of Sunday afternoon “Max” was in 3rd place getting beat by “PP” at #1 and “Avengers” at #2. So it’s getting beat by a silly musical comedy and a flick that’s been out for 3 weeks.

  5. shawnsshorts says:

    Usually, when I write reviews, I like to spend more time talking about the things that I DO like in the movie and less time talking about the things that I DON’T. So you will now understand why my review of the newest MAD MAX movie consists of only two words: “Cool cars.”

    Unfortunately, some of the things that I predicted in my early preview-review came to pass.

    Actually, some of the ladies should have seen Mad Max, instead. It’s a feminine film all the way, with Max playing almost a supporting role to the lead female, Furiousa. Furiousa 7, anyone? Too much CGI, too little character development, no character growth. Downer ending: C’mon, Max, at least stay one night at Furiousa’s. Sheesh.

    My grade: C-

    I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said, “You were just passed by a girl.” Kind of appropriate here.

  6. Mike Flores says:

    The word “feminist” was thrown around with MAD MAX. That is poison ivy to girls 12 to 28. So where did they go? To see PITCH PERFECT 2.

  7. Cary says:

    Mad Max was awesome and mind-blowing and will hopefully find it’s legs(from good word of mouth) and continue staying near the top.

  8. Magic says:

    Mad Max is pure fun! You’ve got to see it on the big screen.

  9. Magic says:

    Couldn’t be more wrong.

  10. Missy says:

    Um..no. People are raving and still talking about Mad Max. It was great. I think that number is pretty good considering it’s rated R. Hopefully it keeps it up!

  11. Murica! says:

    Suck it PP fangirls!! Mad Max domestic +international box office is higher!! How does it feel? Are you crying lucylu?

  12. Tom says:

    I saw Mad Max and absolutely LOVED it!! The stunts and soundtrack were amazing!! Anyone that has seen past Mad Max movies knows that you don’t go to these movies expecting a strong story line. Mad Max is all about the on screen eye candy and its setting in a post apocolyptic world. It’s no different than with “fast and Furious…You think people see fast and Furious because of storyline??…Dream on…People go to Fast and Furious for 2 hours of insane car action and stunts which is what Mad Max delivers just in a post apocolyptic setting…..I think Mad Max simply hurt itself with the “R” Rating instead of being PG-13 although I don’t think Mad max would have been nearly as good if they made it PG-13.

  13. Tom says:

    Mad Max was Rated R vice PG-13 for PP2 so being rated R really limits the audience for that movie. I think you are going to see a serious nosedive for PP2 next weekend while Mad Max will hold up much better.

  14. Meatdawg says:

    I will never watch “Fury Road” & “PP2”. I saw PP1 at my friends house a couple of years ago. It was without a doubt one of the worst and dumbest movies I had ever seen. Wooden acting, dumb and crass joke, sterotypes galore, it’s all there. It bought new meaning to the term Lowest Common Denominator to movie-dum. So the idea of more of the same from PP2 was out of the question.

    If a film doesn’t allow reviews for the films release then you know it’s as real “turkey” and that was the case for Eury Road. I’ve got fond memoires of the original Mad Max trilogy. But a mega-budget and over-the-top special effects are a poor substitute for set-of-the-pants action and stunts. and a compelling story. And here lies the rub, I read in a car magazine that the director didnt’ even have a script. The actors would just “wing it” and kept dialogue to a minimum.

    In short these two movies prove that no mater how awful and unimiginative a movie is Hollywood will force-feed their crap down the throats of an unsophiticated and gullible American public and the corporate crittics will heap praise on terrible sequels like these because profits and the bottom-line are paramount. Originality and quality be damned because professional critics dare not tell the truth about the movies they’re paid to see lest the studios pull adverts from their publications.

    • CelluloidFan35mm says:

      Well said, my friend. At this point, you can go to VOD, cable TV and indie film to find better quality than that Hollywood is churning out. They might not be all winners but at least they put in the effort.

    • Wow…You’re so pity. Maybe you are just someone who have a hard time finding happiness in you life. Nothing in this world can make you happy, can’t it?

  15. Zach Cage says:

    Yeah, those words being thrown around, genius and masterpiece, are asinine. They hate Age of Ultron for the same reasons they love Road Fury. It is beyond ridiculous. The movie is awful, and this reminds me of Avatar all over again, and thankfully, Road Fury didn’t explode like they thought it would. A movie that offers nothing except loud explosions, crashes, chases and falling, and of course violence, is just not a complete film. No character development, there is NO chemistry between to the leads and Mad Max isn’t really Mad Max, he is a watered down version Furiosa is the main character in this film. Road Fury really should have been called Furiosa. 100%. I am glad for Pitch Perfect 2, it is a good film, and FYI, 44mil is not a strong debut for a 150mil dollar film (not including promotion costs), and it opened in MORE theaters than Pitch Perfect 2. Lastly, I just need to say, I do not understand how an awful film can be praised in such a manner, with no substance to back that praise. Most critics and even viewers who are now on the bandwagon state the only reason the film is EPIC, are do to the FX and stunts and action. WHAT?? They even admit, it lacks story and there is no purpose to the film, but they PRAISE it? Absurd.

    • James says:

      I didn’t think it was awful but, as a Mad Max film, it wasn’t very good because Hardy barely registers in the movie (It’s no accident that the latest poster has Charlize Theron in the foreground and Hardy in the background with the metal mask over his face) Combine that with amplifying his dialogue to add some kind of deep bass a la Bane in the movie and some tired flashbacks which are supposed to be “mysterious” and you get a character who only resonates because of Furiosa. As for the audience reaction in my theater, a guy walked out shouting “That sucked!” to the screen. The rest of the audience was silent.

    • JJ35 says:

      I saw Mad Max last night in a half full theater and it was met with silence. After reading the reviews I was very disappointed with what I saw; boring!!!

  16. Sebastian D. says:

    Amazing numbers for Pitch Perfect 2. Another win fro Universal Pictures. Congratulations.

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