LOS ANGELES, May 31 (Variety.com) - Dwayne Johnson's "San Andreas" has delivered a dominating $53.2 million opening weekend at 3,777 U.S. locations, soaring past recent forecasts of a $40 million launch for the Warner Bros.-New Line 3D disaster pic.
"San Andreas" took in more than five times as much as the $10 million opening of Sony's romantic-comedy "Aloha," which arrived at 2,815 sites amid extensive negative buzz -- despite the star power of Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams.
"San Andreas" underlines Johnson's drawing power in the wake of being a key component of Universal's "Furious 7" and its $1.5 billion worldwide gross. He's been front and center in the promotion for "San Andreas" as a heroic helicopter pilot seeking to rescue his daughter, played by Alexandra Daddario, amid the rubble of a mega-quake.
Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, noted that "San Andreas" gained momentum throughout the weekend due to the film delivering what he called "pure popcorn movie excitement."
He added, "Johnson is clearly one of the most bankable stars working today. Johnson's versatility, charisma, humor and his imposing physical presence on the big screen has made him the 'go-to' guy for filmmakers looking to ratchet up the excitement level and drawing power of their films."
"San Andreas," which also stars Carla Gugino and Paul Giammati, earned an impressive A- CinemaScore from audiences, with 70% coming from the over-25 demo. Dan Fellman, Warner's domestic distribution chief, said Johnson deserves much of the credit.
"He's a four-quadrant, larger-than-life movie star," Fellman said. "This is going to have great legs."
Village Roadshow Pictures co-financed and co-produced "San Andreas" with Warner for $110 million, with most of the film lensing in Australia to take advantage of government incentives.
Universal's third weekend of "Pitch Perfect 2" led the rest of the pack, finishing with $14.8 million at 3,660 locations. The comedy sequel, which carries a modest $29 million price tag, has outperformed expectations with a total of $147.5 million in 17 days in the U.S. with another $80 million-plus internationally.
Disney's second frame of George Clooney's "Tomorrowland" finished a close third with $13.8 million for a $63.2 million 10-day total. The high-priced fantasy, with a $180 million budget, isn't showing much traction with a 58% decline from its opening weekend.
On the foreign front, "Tomorrowland" hasn't dazzled either. It took in $29.3 million from 75 markets, including $13.8 million from its first six days in China, to lift international grosses to $70 million.
"Tomorrowland" edged Warner's third weekend of "Mad Max: Fury Road," which motored to $13.6 million at 3,255 sites. The Tom Hardy-Charlize Theron tentpole declined 45% and has totalled $115.9 million in the U.S in 17 days.