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‘San Andreas’ Heads for $40 Million-Plus Opening, ‘Aloha’ Eyes $12 Million

Dwayne Johnson’s disaster drama “San Andreas” is anything but a disaster, dominating moviegoing at the U.S. box office with early projections showing a $40 million-plus opening weekend.

The opening of Sony’s “Aloha” is likely to finish the frame at around $12 million, or the mid-range of recent forecasts that have been tamped down as negative buzz surrounds the rom-com — despite the star power of Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams.

San Andreas” showed respectable drawing power with $3.1 million in latenight shows Thursday, while “Aloha” arrived with a meek $500,000 at 2,275 locations in preview showings. Early Friday estimates showed a $16 million opening day for “San Andreas,” which is playing at 3,777 locations, and a Friday total of $4.5 million for “Aloha” at 2,815 site.

Warner Bros.’ 3D “San Andreas” is arriving with an easy-to-understand premise — a mega-earthquake and aftershock clobber California, forcing Johnson’s helicopter pilot character to scramble to rescue his daughter, played by Alexandra Daddario. Village Roadshow Pictures co-financed and co-produced “San Andreas” with Warners for $110 million, with most of the film lensing in Australia to take advantage of government incentives.

“San Andreas” is directed by Brad Peyton, who also helmed Johnson in New Line’s “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.” Carla Gugino and Paul Giamatti also star.

“San Andreas” is also launching in 60 international markets on 13,000 screens, including such major territories as the U.K., France, Germany, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and Australia.

“Aloha” is the weekend’s other wide opener and has been positioned as a counter-programmer to “San Andreas.” But “Aloha” has generated virtually no traction among reviewers, resulting in a 15% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which gave “San Andreas” a 51% rating.

Unfortunately for Sony, “Aloha” began receiving bad buzz late last year when leaked emails from the massive Sony hack revealed that then-studio Amy Pascal had disparaged the film and its script. “Aloha” represents only a moderate financial risk for the studio since it cost only $37 million.

“Aloha” will probably finish in fourth or fifth place behind Disney’s second weekend of George Clooney’s “Tomorrowland” and the third weekend of Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 2.” Warner Bros.’ third weekend of “Mad Max: Fury Road” will likely wind up in the same vicinity as “Aloha.”

“Tomorrowland” has been a mild disappointment so far — given its $180 million price tag — earning $42.7 million over the four-day Memorial Day weekend. Friday’s estimates showed the fantasy-adventure heading for a $14 million second weekend, followed by “Pitch Perfect 2” at about $13 million, “Aloha” at $12 million and “Mad Max: Fury Road” at $11.5 million.

“Pitch Perfect 2” has been a surprise success, topping $130 million in the U.S. in its first 13 days, while “Mad Max” has performed in line with expectations and passed $100 million in that same time frame.

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