The Rock Shakes Up Box Office with San Andreas
By John Hamann
May 31, 2015
Along with The Rock’s social media presence, Warner Bros. did a savvy job of getting the word out about San Andreas. Given the disaster porn nature of this one, WB was able to build an effective marketing campaign, using many of the high-value visuals of the carnage to maximum effect. The studio didn’t panic after the earthquake in Nepal caused its devastation; instead, they turned the campaign into an earthquake awareness campaign. The use of a melancholy version of California Dreamin’ in the trailers was very effective, but I think at the end of the day, The Rock drove this one home. Reviews were decent for this type of flick at 49% fresh, better than 2012 (39% fresh) and The Day After Tomorrow (45% fresh). It earned an A- Cinemascore, which is good news for its opening-to-total multiplier, and could be better news for how this one is perceived overseas.
San Andreas cost $110 million to make with Warner Bros., Village Roadshow and Rat Pac covering the cost, the first two carrying the bulk of it. That means that a film like San Andreas will need at least $300 million worldwide to see a theatrical profit, and this one should be able to pull it off. I would expect at least a $125 million domestic finish, with overseas audiences picking up the $175 million balance. Disaster flicks play well overseas due to the big effects – The Day After Tomorrow earned $357 million over there way back in 2004, and 2012 did a massive $603 million overseas. Even a film like Into the Storm more than doubled its domestic gross overseas, so no one is going to get hurt by San Andreas.
Pitch Perfect 2 manages a second consecutive second place finish as Tomorrowland fades more than I expected. In its third weekend, Pitch Perfect 2 got started with a $4.6 million Friday, off 53% from the previous Friday, giving us another indication that audiences aren’t going to prop up this sequel for a long, dramatic Mamma Mia! style run. Over the weekend, the Elizabeth Banks film earned $14.8 million, which means it was off 52% from its Memorial Day weekend result of $30.8 million. Instead of phenomenon, Pitch Perfect 2 is becoming only a surprise opener, relishing its $69 million debut before fading fast. It has a current domestic take of $147 million, and will hope to reach $175 million before all is said and done. It’s also earned over $60 million from overseas theaters, which means it has crossed the $200 million worldwide, all against a budget of only $29 million.
Third is Tomorrowland, which is quickly moving from disappointment to flop. After debuting last weekend to $33 million over three days, I expected Tomorrowland to hold this weekend and potentially earn $18 million plus. It wasn’t to be, as the George Clooney starrer finished fourth on Friday, barely edging out Sony’s critical disaster, Aloha. On Friday, Tomorrowland was off a hefty 62% from its opening day, and couldn’t recover enough, finishing the weekend with $13.8 million, giving it a 58% plunge from its soft opening frame. The kids are not going to save Tomorrowland, obviously, and Disney will now be hoping that overseas audiences can somehow soften the blow. Remember that Tomorrowland cost Disney $190 million to make, and at this point, it does not look like it will make $100 million domestically. Give the Brad Bird film $63 million so far. It will ride the express to the lower rungs of the top ten next weekend, when three new films debut.