May 30, 2015

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “San Andreas” Moves the Richter Scale; “Aloha” Says Goodbye


SAN ANDREAS (Village Roadshow/Warners) is off to a mid-range start, with preliminary Friday numbers at Deadline giving it a $17.5M opening day (including $3.1M from Thursday night), which is slightly ahead of the $16.6M opening day of Mad Max: Fury Road.  No one really cares that its likely $45M weekend will be Dwayne Johnson’s largest solo opening (i.e., excluding his giant Fast & Furious turns) when the competition for that honor is Hercules and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.  What will help, though, is the reported $110M production budget (more like $300M with worldwide marketing included), a very reasonable cost for a special effects epic.  San Andreas should be quite popular overseas–we’ll have a better feel for whether that’s true by Sunday, since it’s starting in 60 international territories this weekend–which means there’s a good chance for profit ahead, although Warners is still short of a true blockbuster this summer.

ALOHA (Regency/20th/Columbia/Sony) could hardly have been more marked for disaster if Cameron Crowe stood outside multiplexes wearing a cowbell and a sign reading “Unclean”.  Its pre-release odyssey included scathing e-mails from inside its own studio (disclosed via the Sony hack), a contractually required minimum amount of promotion by its starry cast, and a ban on reviews that didn’t lapse until hours before the start of general release–and then generally poisonous notices when the blackout was lifted.  The result was a sadly predictable $3.4M opening day (including $500K from Thursday night), and with word of mouth likely to be dim, the weekend will struggle to hit $10M.  There’s little chance for overseas success for a low-concept rom-com, so the $125M+ production/marketing investment is probably close to a total loss.

TOMORROWLAND (Disney) was hoping that being the only family movie in the market would keep it buoyant despite a slow start, but that’s not happening.  It fell a heavy 60% from last Friday to $3.9M, heading for a $14M weekend and a US total that may not even reach $100M, disastrous for a spectacle whose production and marketing costs will top $350M–especially since last week’s international results were bleak

POLTERGEIST (MGM/20th) was never expected to have much box-office longevity, and it didn’t, plunging 71% from its opening day to $2.7M, on its way to a $10M weekend and $50-60M at the US box office.

PITCH PERFECT 2 (Gold Circle/Universal) dropped 55% from last Friday to $4.3M, heading to a $14M weekend and a US total that should get to $175M, a tremendous success given its relatively low costs.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (Village Roadshow/Warners) is holding fairly well, but still not the smash that its huge costs ($350M with worldwide marketing) needed.  It fell 48% from last Friday to $3.4M, and its US total may get to $140M.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (Marvel/Disney) is heading for the exits, down 46% from last Friday to $2.9M.  Its US total will push to $450M, down close to 30% from the $623.4M of the first Avengers, although a hugely higher China result will take away some of that sting.

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (Fox Searchlight) will likely have the weekend’s best hold, but it’s still not causing much stir outside arthouses, with a $1.3M weekend ahead at 902 theatres, and an ultimate $10-15M in sight.

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."