Warner Bros.’ “San Andreas” is no box office disaster, with the 3D action film drawing $18.2 million on Friday, setting it on track for a projected weekend haul of $47 million at 3,777 locations and smashing past early estimates that put it around the $40 million mark. Cameron Crowe’s “Aloha,” meanwhile, was left in the dust, eyeing a modest $10-11 million weekend after a slow Friday that drew approximately $3.6 million at 2,815 sites.
Critics may not be giving “San Andreas” points for its brains, but the Dwayne Johnson film is certainly demonstrating its brawn — its strong performance is the best of Johnson’s career outside the “Fast & Furious” franchise, handily beating the opening weekend haul for “Hercules” ($29.8 million), “Pain and Gain” ($20.2 million) and “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” ($40.5 million).
There’s still a chasm between “San Andreas” and the opening weekend tallies for Roland Emmerich’s similarly cataclysmic movies, “The Day After Tomorrow” ($68.7 million) and “2012” ($65.2 million), but it’s a vast improvement over last year’s “Into the Storm” ($17.3 million) and “Pompeii” ($10.3 million), which barely measured on the Richter scale.
While the romantic “Aloha” offers counter-programming for viewers who may have grown tired of the endless CGI carnage that has become a staple of summer blockbusters, the Bradley Cooper film has received a critical mauling. A $10-11 million opening is in line with Crowe’s two most recent drama offerings — 2011’s “We Bought a Zoo” garnered $9.3 million and went on to make $75.6 million, buoyed by the star power of Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, while 2005’s “Elizabethtown” bowed to $10.6 million on its way to a $26.8 million total.
Elsewhere, Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 2” is still humming along, eyeing a weekend total of around $14 million in week three, while Warner Bros.’ “Mad Max: Fury Road” clearly has plenty of gas in the tank, on track for a three-day total of around $13 million. Disney’s “Tomorrowland” is nipping at “Max’s” heels for a similar $13 million weekend.
Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is still showing its box office muscle in week five, with Joss Whedon’s superhero sequel expected to pass $425 million this weekend, which could relegate “Aloha” to sixth place on the chart. 20th Century Fox’s “Poltergeist” remake scared up $2.6 million on Friday, looking to chill audiences to the tune of just under $8 million in its second weekend.
Like “Mad Max,” “San Andreas” was co-produced and co-financed by Village Roadshow, with a budget of $110 million. Directed by Brad Peyton (who previously worked with Johnson on Warner Bros.’ “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”), the film was written by Carlton Cuse and also stars Carla Gugino, Paul Giamatti and Alexandra Daddario.
“Aloha” was co-financed by New Regency, LStar Capital and RatPac Entertainment with a $37 million budget. Its star-studded cast also includes Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, John Krasinski and Alec Baldwin.