The Rock Shakes Up Box Office with San Andreas
By John Hamann
May 31, 2015
It’s The Rock’s world, and this weekend he is shaking the foundations.
After a Memorial Day weekend frame when five films earned over $20 million but none came close to breaking out, San Andreas was able to find significant room to open decently this weekend. Dwayne Johnson went full-court press on his large social media audience and was able to push the envelope on expectations for the opening weekend of disaster porn spectacle San Andreas. Our other opener is a bit of a sad case, as we get only our third Cameron Crowe release in 10 years with the critically ravaged Aloha. The director of Say Anything... and Almost Famous makes a rare appearance with an awesome cast, but Aloha was not able to overcome the critical beating from writers and Amy Pascal's leaked emails.
Still, the story this weekend is again going to be the health of the overall summer box office so far. Tomorrowland struggled last weekend, and there was definitely no upsurge this weekend. While Pitch Perfect 2 opened big, it has flamed out since, spending many weekdays behind Mad Max: Fury Road. The return of George Miller to the apocalyptic wasteland is probably the second best story of the summer so far, behind only the $191 million opening for Age of Ultron. Even the Avengers sequel has not seen the legs and true dominance of the original. These results are leaving the overall May box office behind previous years, but June looks solid with the likes of Jurassic World, Ted 2, Inside Out, Spy and Entourage all set to roll. The box office is down, yes, but I am still looking for a strong comeback as the summer continues.
Our number one film of the weekend is San Andreas, as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson continues to stake his claim as a bona fide action star and dynamic box office draw. San Andreas was on shaky ground only a few weeks ago, when tracking was looking for a debut in the low $30 millions. What that tracking didn’t take into account was Johnson’s mastery of promotion, as The Rock tub-thumped big time for San Andreas. Johnson easily earned his $12 million salary for San Andreas, and distributor Warner Bros. could include it as a marketing cost.
San Andreas got started on Thursday night, earning a solid $3.1 million from previews. That’s a solid start for a disaster flick starring the Rock, even though it didn’t quite match that of Pitch Perfect 2 ($4.6 million Thursday) or Mad Max: Fury Road ($3.7 million). Still, for a non-sequel, it was an impressive start. Hercules, The Rock’s last film, had a Thursday preview amount of $2.1 million on its way to a $29.8 million debut. Thus, with a $3.1 million Thursday, expectations for a low-$30 million weekend were rubble all of a sudden.
The Friday number was also impressive. Combined with Thursday, the opening day was reported at $18.2 million, easily the best start of a Dwayne Johnson film where he was the lone draw. The opening day for Hercules came in at $11.1 million and was better than G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which opened on a Thursday to $10.5 million before going on to earn $15.2 million on its first Friday. Over the remainder of the weekend, San Andreas was able to shake out a weekend total of $53.2 million, which I believe will have those at Warner Bros. quite happy this morning. Warner Bros. opened San Andreas 3,777 sites, of which about 80% were either 3D or IMAX screens. It earned a venue average of $14,089, and leads me to think that it took over some of the bigger theaters after the disappointment that is Tomorrowland.