“Avengers: Age of Ultron” (Buena Vista), unlike its predecessor, won’t have a third week in the top spot, as two new releases digging for gold (and also building on past success) beat it out Friday. And the initial tallies for “Pitch Perfect 2” (Universal) and “Mad Max: Fury Road” (Warner Bros.) both suggest that the sequel-and franchise-heavy summer slate, when crafted with care and appealing to diverse audiences, has a chance to continue to thrive after early strong showings from “Ultron” and “Furious 7.”
“Pitch Perfect 2” initially is the much bigger success, with its nearly $28 million Thursday night and Friday take more than 40% of what its predecessor did its entire run. That sleeper, nurtured by Universal to gain word of mouth, did an unexpected $65 million initially. It then grew in popularity with its post-theatrical viewings, leading to the sequel and its massive initial response.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” and its initial positive response, buttressed by the best critical response to a studio wide release since “Gravity,” took in just under $17 million. This had been considered one of the riskiest releases of the summer, with its $150 million + budget, and it remains to be seen if the gamble will pay off. It is tricky to reinvent a well-regarded three-decade old series, especially with actors (Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron) not certain to draw worldwide audiences. “Fury Road” also opened decently internationally (as did the much less expensive “Perfect 2”), but it will need to clear $500 million and more in total box office to be on the path to profit. A stronger Saturday will be an initial hopeful sign.
“Ultron” dropped to third, still very good (more so considering the competition) at $10 million, down from $21 last Friday. That number pushed it ahead of “Furious 7” (Universal), with its $343 million domestic total — in only 15 days — the best among all 2015 releases, a position that may be tough to beat at least until the December releases.
The Top Ten take came to $61 million (with $8.3 million from Thursday night shows). But even with three strong movies, the day came in a tick below the same day in 2014, when “Godzilla” opened to $38 million. So once again the struggle to better last summer’s mediocre total tally is evident, even with some better than expected numbers yesterday.
The remaining seven films in the Top Ten combined couldn’t manage $6 million total. “Hot Pursuit” (Warner Bros.) took fourth with a meager second Friday $1,760,000. The only other entry over $1 million (barely) was Lionsgate’s “The Age of Adeline.” “Furious 7” ($962,000) and Sony’s “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” ($860,000) took sixth and seventh. The others are “Ex Machina” (A24/$585,000), “Home” (20th Century Fox/$503,000) and “Far from the Madding Crowd” (Fox Searchlight/$350,000).