Universal’s singing sequel “Pitch Perfect 2″ is in a hot race with “Mad Max: Fury Road” at the U.S. weekend box office, with both films eyeing strong launches of $50 million — enough to dethrone the mighty “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
Early Friday estimates, based on matinee numbers, showed the Anna Kendrick-Rebel Wilson musical connecting solidly with audiences at 3,427 locations with around $20 million to $22 million Friday. Should those numbers hold, “Pitch Perfect 2” would finish in the $48 million to $52 million range.
Warner Bros.’ “Fury Road” is close behind with $20 million on Friday. The R-rated actioner, starring Tom Hardy, is expected to land in the $50 million range.
Co-starring Charlize Theron, “Mad Max” is screening at 3,702 locations.
After winning back-to-back weekends domestically, Disney-Marvel’s “Ultron” is locked in third place with an impressive $35 million to $38 million for the frame.
If the estimates hold up, the weekend will be the first since final frame of 2014 with three films finishing over $30 million. During the Dec. 26-28 weekend, “The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies” led with $40.9 million, followed by “Into the Woods” at $31.1 million and “Unbroken” with $30.6 million.
Joss Whedon’s “Avengers” sequel hit the $1 billion mark in worldwide grosses on Friday.
Friday’s box office fireworks continue the momentum from Thursday night preview shows, when “Pitch Perfect 2” took in $4.6 million to the $3.7 million earned by Warner Bros.’ “Mad Max: Fury Road.”
The two openers and the “Avengers” sequel were pegged in recent days to end the weekend with around $40 million each at the domestic box office in the wake of solid reviews. “Pitch Perfect 2” scored 69% “fresh” on the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator site, while “Ultron” came in at 74% and “Fury Road” generated a stunning 98%.
“Pitch Perfect 2” comes three years after the original debuted with an impressive $115 million worldwide. The sequel, which carries a $29 million pricetag, marks the feature directorial debut of Elizabeth Banks, who also stars.
“Pitch Perfect 2” also appeared to be hitting the mark outside the United States with a first-place opening day in Germany with $1.5 million, up 229% from the original. Universal also reported first-day Asian grosses that were far above the first film — $288,000 for Malaysia, up 459% and $265,000 for Singapore, up 257% — and a 510% increase in Switzerland to $212,000.
The studio also reported strong holds for Australia, down only 37% and New Zealand, which declined 39%.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” is opening three decades after Miller’s last Mad Max feature “Beyond Thunderdome” in 1985. Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow financed the $150 million tentpole, which earned $10.4 million at the international box office on Thursday in 48 countries on 12,000 screens. France led the way with $2.25 million followed by Russia with $835,000.