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Box Office: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ Eye $40 Million Openings

When “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Pitch Perfect 2” debut next weekend, they look poised to divide and conquer the genders, with the apocalyptic adventure monopolizing men and the a cappella comedy cornering women.

Early tracking suggests that both films will open to $40 million or higher, with most firms giving the edge to “Pitch Perfect 2.” Sources at Universal, the studio behind “Pitch Perfect 2,” are pleased with how trailers and promotional materials are resonating with moviegoers, but are more conservative with their estimates, predicting a debut of $30 million. That would double the first film’s opening and represent a strong start for a film that carries a slender $29 million budget.

Mad Max: Fury Road,” which cost $150 million-plus to make, poses a much riskier proposition for backers Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow, starting with the fact that the most recent film in the series, “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” was in theaters 30 years ago. Moreover, the action movie starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron carries an R rating, which limits its potential audience. With the exception of 2013’s “Prometheus,” most recent summer popcorn releases boast PG or PG-13 ratings.

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Getting George Miller’s “Mad Max: Fury Road” to the screen was no easy feat, either. The project was stuck in development hell for decades before it finally got off the ground. After a series of delays, production eventually commenced in 2012, but the complex effects and difficult locations meant the film was literally years in the making. That long slog may have been worth it. Reviews are still embargoed, but the word around the film blogging community is that “Mad Max: Fury Road” is a visual stunner, which means it could play well with fanboy crowds.

“It has the potential to really surprise people,” said Phil Contrino, VP and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “It’s poised to be the kind of movie where Thursday shows happen and people go nuts for it and it snowballs into a huge weekend.”

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” has sucked up most of the oxygen around the male viewers that “Mad Max:Fury Road” needs to attract in order to succeed, but tracking among that demographic has picked up a few points in recent days, and the studio still has some time to ramp up its advertising campaign.

The combination of “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Pitch Perfect 2,” not to mention the continued presence of the latest “Avengers” movie, does have the potential to break records. Last year, “Godzilla” opened to $93.2 million, helping the overall box office for the weekend before Memorial Day reach $178.5 million, a new high-water mark. That could easily be eclipsed this go round, studio sources say, continuing what is shaping up to be a torrid year at the multiplexes.

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