Weekend Wrap-Up for May 17-19, 2015

By Kim Hollis

May 17, 2015

Academy Award nominees FTW.

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We’re warming up for the Memorial Day weekend and the official arrival of summer, and two brand-new releases are setting the tone early as they dominate the box office frame and topple Avengers: Age of Ultron from the top spot.

Our top film of the weekend – by a lot – is not Avengers: Age of Ultron or Mad Max: Fury Road. Instead, a sequel to a movie that earned $65 million domestically during its entire theatrical run earned more than that during its first weekend in theaters. Pitch Perfect 2, the sequel to the leggy 2012 musical, earned a mighty $70.3 million from Friday-to-Sunday, blowing away all expectations and becoming an easy instant winner for Universal Pictures, which budgeted the film at $29 million. In fact, it earned almost that much in just one day at the box office.

Pitch Perfect 2 got started on Thursday night with stellar evening preview earnings of $4.6 million. This amount alone was almost as much as the first film made in its first weekend in theaters ($5.1 million), although it should be noted that Pitch Perfect had an initial limited theatrical release of only 335 venues. Once the early tone was set, Pitch Perfect 2 just kept on rolling. Its Friday total was $27.8 million, and although it seemed like a film that should be wholly front-loaded, it actually held up better than most forecasters were expecting.


To put the $70 million debut in perspective, Pitch Perfect 2’s opening weekend is comparable to the ones of such movies as Fast and Furious, 300, Transformers, Twilight, Maleficent and The LEGO Movie. It’s a movie with no big stars (Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks), no crazy special effects, no vampires and no fast cars. It’s just a fun, jubilant story about an a capella singing group that appeals strongly to females. Over the past couple of years, we’ve documented the explosion of the female demographic as a powerful force at the box office, and Pitch Perfect 2 is yet another example that tells us women of all ages are looking for more than simple dramatic love stories and by-the-book romantic comedies.

When it comes to word-of-mouth, Pitch Perfect 2’s reviews were somewhat less glowing than the original film’s. Its Rotten Tomatoes score is 68% compared to Pitch Perfect’s 81%. However, the audience for the film may not care too much about what the critics have to say. The Cinemascore for the sequel was an A-, which is only just behind the first film’s A. With the holiday weekend impending, Pitch Perfect 2 is a box office force and another feather in Universal’s cap, which can now claim more than a third of 2015’s weekends at the top spot. It’s also a boon for Elizabeth Banks, who not only has a featured role in the film, but also directed the project. We’ll call it a huge step up from her previous directorial effort, a short from the deservedly forgotten film Movie 43.

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