It’s going to be a big weekend at the box office as the girls of Pitch Perfect 2 face off against the R-rated, testosterone-charged mega-budgeted Mad Max: Fury Road. Although both bow Thursday at 7 PM, right now it appears the girls have a leg up at the domestic box office. Industry observers think PP2 will win the three-day weekend and could gross more than $50M while Mad Max from Warner Bros (in 3D) will end up a step behind in the low-$40Ms. Mad Max releases day-and-date internationally and overseas will receive a nice promo at the Cannes International Film Festival from its stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron.
Cannes is serving as the international junket for George Miller’s return to a dystopian future. The stars and director will be on the Riviera to speak with the world media as the actioner rolls out in a total of 68 markets and 16,000 screens by the weekend (minus China). In Cannes, the façade of the Carlton Hotel is plastered with posters, and Thursday’s red carpet is expected to be one of the highlights of the 10-day extravaganza.
Meanwhile, PP2 will debut day-and-date in 27 international territories including the U.K., Germany, Russia and the Philippines. The film opened over the weekend in Australia and New Zealand. It opened 300% higher of the opening of the original Pitch Perfect in those markets.
PP2 is directed by a female director — Elizabeth Banks — who is making her feature-film helming debut. Banks produced and starred in the first film and again serves both roles in Pitch Perfect 2.
The first film opened in limited release before going wide in September of 2012. It ended up with a $113M worldwide box office gross, with 57% of it (or $65M) coming from domestic audiences.
Depending on the pie split in the States, Disney-Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron also could gross anywhere from $35M to $40M in its third weekend out. Three weeks ago, everyone thought Ultron, which is still on the bulk of Imax screens, would still have the No. 1 spot this weekend at the domestic box office, but that is not the case now.
It’s only happened a couple of other times history where the top three films grossed over $40M in one weekend at the domestic box office. We’re thinking Ultron will be on the lower end of estimates but will be watching to see if it can pull it off.
The other two times that rarity has occurred was when Monsters University nabbed $82.4M, World War Z grabbed $66.4M and Man Of Steel (in its sophomore frame) pulled in about $41.2M on the weekend of June 21, 2013. And on Christmas weekend in 2009, Avatar took about a $75.6M (in its second weekend), while Sherlock Holmes grossed $62.3M and Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakuel unwrapped $48.8M.
In terms of demographic makeup, PP2 is (obviously) is skewing female and right now has the lock on older females. In addition, younger females have a higher interest than Mad Max‘s older male demo.
Whether the female ensemble movie will have legs remains to be seen. It’s 72% fresh with its core audience, but it has a 98% want-to-see. That’s good news for distributor Universal as female audiences tend to commit more. Sorry, guys, just the facts.
Warner Bros certainly has a lock on the older male audience stateside. Look for Mad Max to continue to pick up with the younger males right up until the time it opens, thanks in part to Ultron, which now is hurling that revved-up portion of the audience to a new action-packed film. In fact, we’ve seen some good jumps in tracking over the past few weeks. Thanks, Marvel.
The PG-13 PP2 heads into 3,472 North American theaters Friday, while Mad Max will roll out to 3,702 theaters on only seven Imax theaters and 360 of the large-format screens.
While Mad Max‘s R rating undoubtedly will restrict the box office a bit, the action reboot could continue to play because it has gotten some very strong reviews in the U.S.; that helps the all-important word-of-mouth, which speaks to whether a movie will have legs or not. In fact, it’s 97% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 98% want to see. We would hope so as the studio is shouldering a $200M production budget, not to mention distribution and marketing costs.
So all eyes are on Warner Bros’ international audience. Timed to coincide with its Cannes premiere, Mad Max: Fury Road starts its international rollout on Thursday in 48 overseas markets including France, Germany, Korea, Russia and Australia. It adds a further 20 territories on Friday, including the UK, Spain and Mexico, and will play the weekend on more than 16,000 overseas screens. Of those, about 200 will be Imax, with 300 4D screens looking to Max-imize exposure in all big theaters.
Estimates on the offshore opening are hovering above $70M, and we’ve heard as high as $85M. With China and Japan – where the franchise was popular back in the day – still to come, the multiple is expected to be strong. Again, good reviews equals positive word-of-mouth, and that helps the multiple.
Although the current key demographics might be unfamiliar with the original Mad Max trilogy that catapulted Mel Gibson to worldwide fame, awareness of the pic is high and reviews overseas also have been glowing.
Given the time that’s elapsed between the first films and today — the most recent, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, arrived in 1985 — direct comparisons are obsolete internationally. Among recent titles that could be reasonably held up against it are 2013’s World War Z ($338M international box office cume) and last year’s 300: Rise Of An Empire ($231M IBO). While Mad Max has an R in the States, it’s got a softer rating in some of the key markets; in the UK, no one under 15 is allowed, and in France it’s no one under 12.
Universal is releasing PP2, and if there is one area in which studio is adept where others fail, it’s successfully marketing and distributing sequels. Compared with the mega-budgeted Mad Max, the PP2 is a moderately budgeted film and, yet, is expected to win the weekend. Seems like the budgets for the two films should be inverted.
Pitch Perfect 2 was produced by Paul Brooks for Gold Circle Entertainment alongside the aforementioned Banks and Max Handelman for their Brownstone Productions. Kay Cannon returned to write the sequel’s screenplay and also co-produce.
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