UPDATE 1-Box Office: 'Pitch Perfect 2' Races Past 'Mad Max: Fury Road' With Outstanding $70.3 Million

Sun May 17, 2015 12:05pm EDT
 
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By Brent Lang

LOS ANGELES, May 17 (Variety.com) - "Pitch Perfect 2" hit all the right notes at the box office, snagging first place on the charts with a smashing $70.3 million debut despite fierce competition from "Mad Max: Fury Road."

Universal's acapella sequel earned more in its first weekend than the $65 million that the original "Pitch Perfect" pulled in during its entire North American theatrical run. The only comparable performance is the way that "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" opened with $54.9 million, more than the $53.9 million that the first spy satire racked up during its domestic engagement.

Like the first "Austin Powers" film, "Pitch Perfect" put up big numbers on home entertainment platforms, allowing people to catch up with a movie they may have missed while it was in theaters. Add to that the ubiquity of the breakout number from the first film, "Cups," and shows it inspired such as the reality series "Sing it On," and it's easy to understand the surge in interest between the two installments.

"People loved the first movie and it resonated well beyond that $65 million that the first film did," said Nick Carpou, Universal's domestic distribution chief. "This was original [intellectual property] for us and to be able to build on the first film and expand its popularity is pretty amazing."

"Pitch Perfect 2" brought back original stars Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, along with newcomer Hailee Steinfeld. It marks Elizabeth Banks' feature film directorial debut and is the second highest opening for a film by a female director, behind only Sam Taylor Johnson's "Fifty Shades of Grey," which kicked off with $85.2 million last winter. It's also the highest opening for a first-time feature film director, the biggest musical opening, and the second biggest PG-13 comedy opening in history.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" also put up strong numbers, racking up $44.4 million across 3,702 locations. The Warner Bros. release capitalized on rapturous critical notices with some reviewers tossing around words like "genius" and "masterpiece."

"It's a film where there's a lot of applause at the end of the movie," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief. "A lot of people coming to the movie went purely on the reviews. The conversation about it is so strong about what an incredible ride this is that it's going to propel us right into the meat of the summer."   Continued...