May 17, 2015

Behind the US/Worldwide Weekend Box Office – 5/17/15


OPENINGS:  PITCH PERFECT 2 (Gold Circle/Universal) blew past even the highest of expectations, outgrossing the entire US run of its predecessor with a $70.3M weekend, and proving not to be all that frontloaded with a 12% Saturday drop.  In addition, with a gradual international roll-out in just 29 markets, the movie earned $26.9M, which puts its overseas total at $38.1M with much of the world yet to come.  (The first Pitch made $50.3M in its entire international run.)  Pitch Perfect is one of the least expensive non-horror franchises out there, so this is going to be an extremely profitable venture for the studio.  It also demonstrates that despite Glee having crashed and burned in its last seasons on the air, there remains a tremendous audience for its oddballs-singing empowerment message.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Village Roadshow/Warners) had an OK start at $44.4M that could put it on track for a $150M US total–which looks less than stellar when compared to its $300-400M production/marketing budget (depending on how much of the huge development costs accumulated in its struggle to get filmed are included).  Despite the rave reviews that might have been expected to indicate strong word of mouth, it declined 3% on Saturday, and it has only 1 relatively free week in theatres before its own studio’s San Andreas comes after its target audience.  Overseas, playing in most of the world (68 markets, but not China), it had a $65M start, again solid but not massive for an action spectacle of this scale.

HOLDOVERS:  In the US, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (Marvel/Disney) is subsiding, down 50% from last weekend to $38.8M.  That compares to a 46% Weekend 3 drop for the first Avengers (to $55.6M), and the sequel is now running more than $85M below its predecessor.  Overseas, however, this was the week Ultron reached China, where it had the expected big start.  The movie opened on Tuesday, and weekend-only numbers are unavailable, but its 6-day total is $156.3M.  In its other 90 markets, it added $28.7M for an international total of $770.5M and a massive worldwide $1.143B.  We’ll have a better idea next week of whether it has any chance of catching the first Avengers’ $1.5B total.  (Japan won’t open until July 4, but the first Avengers made only $45.3M there, so that number is unlikely to change things appreciably.)

HOT PURSUIT (MGM/Warners) paid the price for a 2d weekend against Pitch Perfect 2 with an ugly 59% drop to $5.8M, and it may not end up with more than $35M in the US, which even with a moderate budget will mean red ink.

PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 (MGM/Columbia/Sony) and FURIOUS 7 (Universal) both held well, respectively down 32% and 33% to the same $3.6M.  Their totals, of course, are totally different, $62.9M for the law and $343.8M for the lawbreakers.  THE AGE OF ADALINE (Lionsgate) also got hit by Pitch 2, down 45% to $3.2M.  EX MACHINA (A24) fell 40% to $2.1M, and may not reach $25M.

Footnote to history:  THE D TRAIN (IFC) had what appears to be the worst 2d weekend ever, losing the vast majority of its theatres and plummeting 95% to $20K.

LIMITED RELEASE:  FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (Fox Searchlight) nearly tripled its theatre count to 289 and increased by 67% to $1.3M, with an OK $4500 per-theatre average.  (By way of comparison, Woman In Gold had a $8100 average when it was at 258 theatres.)  SAINT LAURENT (Sony Classics) expanded to 16 theatres with a wan $2400 average.  I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS (Bleecker Street) had a quiet start with a $5300 average at 3 theatres.

NEXT WEEKEND:  The Memorial Day holiday brings the PG action-adventure TOMORROWLAND (Disney) for the whole family, and POLTERGEIST (MGM/20th) for those looking for scares.  The major limited release is ALOFT (Sony Classics).


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."