'Pitch Perfect 2' soars past 'Mad Max' at the box office

'Pitch' bested the action movie 'Mad Max: Fury Road' at the box office this weekend and also grossed more over the weekend than the original film grossed domestically in its entire run.

Richard Cartwright/Universal Pictures/AP
'Pitch Perfect 2' stars Anna Kendrick.

The ladies of "Pitch Perfect 2" hit all the right notes opening weekend, amassing a $70.3 million debut, according to Rentrak estimates Sunday.

The Elizabeth Banks-directed sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit and video-on-demand phenomenon cost Universal Pictures only $29 million to produce and was expected to open in the $50 million range. The first film, for comparison, grossed only $65 million domestically across its entire run.

"It's aca-awesome," said Universal Pictures' President of Domestic Distribution Nick Carpou, using one of the catchphrases of the film about a cappella singing. "We knew that the film would be a success, but there's something that happens when movies grow in their success beyond a range that's easily predictable. When that happens, the sky's the limit."

Audiences for the musical comedy starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson were 75 percent female and 62 percent under the age of 25, according to Universal.

Carpou attributed some of the massive success to savvy positioning and the widespread appeal of the popular music and the charismatic, diverse cast. He noted that ads during the NBA playoffs and a Super Bowl spot helped to grow the film's audience base.

George Miller's critically acclaimed "Mad Max: Fury Road" landed a distant second in its debut weekend with a solid and expected $44.4 million from 3,702 locations. The high-octane, post-apocalyptic film cost a reported $150 million to make and stars Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy.

Although it cost significantly more than "Pitch Perfect 2" to produce and didn't come close to matching its opening, "Mad Max: Fury Road" still had a promising and successful first weekend in theaters – especially considering the fact that it is R-rated.

"We're very excited about the opening," Warner Bros. President of Domestic Distribution Dan Fellman said. "We're going to have some long legs and some great success on this movie."

The film, which also played in IMAX and 3D, is one of the best-reviewed in the studio's history. Fellman said that many of the showings ended with applause, only adding to the hope that word of mouth will contribute to a lengthy and successful run.

Audiences for the film were 70 percent male and 46 percent under the age of 35, according to Warner Bros.

For Rentrak's Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian, the weekend is an undisputed success for both studios.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" also made $65 million internationally, bringing its worldwide total to $109.4 million.

"Each film absolutely found its target audience," Dergarabedian said. "They were running on parallel tracks, and both exceeded expectations by not cannibalizing each other. It was the perfect release strategy for two very different, high-profile films ... it really paid off handsomely."

Holdovers "Avengers: Age of Ultron," ''Hot Pursuit," and "Furious 7" claimed the rest of the spots in the top five.

After opening in China six days ago, the "Avengers" sequel brought in $185 million internationally in its fourth weekend. The film has now grossed $1.1 billion globally.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.