While the Summer box office has been well under way for several weeks with multiple strong hits, Memorial Day weekend, in the U.S. at least, is usually considered a major date to open major new releases expected to be among the biggest of the season. One date of course doesn’t dictate the course of upcoming business. But it isn’t great news that yesterday’s Top Ten only totaled about $44 million, more than 25% less than the same Friday last year.
2014’s holiday was dominated by “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which took in over $35 million its first day (plus previous night evening shows). This year brought two openings less likely to have anything similar in terms of initial must-see fan boy appeal. But still, “Tomorrowland” (Buena Vista) at about $9.7 million tied for top spot for the day and “Poltergeist” (Twentieth Century Fox) came in third at $9.4 million. Their combined totals only earned a bit more than half of “X-Men” alone, making it hard for the rest of the entries to make up the steep shortfall.
“Tomorrowland” as a PG family-oriented film has a chance to rebound over the weekend and beyond, so its fate is unclear. But with a reported budget in the range of $175 million, it is a disappointing result. “Poltergeist,” which as a horror film likely has seen its best day, actually came in a bit higher than predicted even if it ultimately comes in fourth for the whole weekend.
Three already strong films were in the mix strongly competing for positions among the leaders, with the order likely to switch in the three and/or four day holiday totals. “Pitch Perfect 2” (Universal), also about $9.7 million, has a good chance of topping the weekend. (Discount “Tomorrowland””s Thursday night shows and ‘Pitch Perfect 2” actually had a bigger gross yesterday.) Though down two-thirds from its huge opening day, the Disney film’s weak showing opens the door to “Pitch” repeating at #1. In any case, it will soar pass $100 million as of Saturday.
“Mad Max: Fury Road” (Warner Bros.) held better than “Pitch,” coming in fourth at $6,745,000, down 59% from last Friday but likely to rise to third for both the three- and four-day weekend and keep its drop under 50%. It remains to be seen whether the hold is strong enough, particularly before seeing revised international totals, to push this into good enough territory to justify its high-end cost, in the same area as “Tomorrowland.”
In fifth is “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (Buena Vista) at a little under $5.6 million, which by Monday should be at just about $400 million. Despite its enormous take, its domestic shortfall compared to its 2012 predecessor does seem to have been something of a harbinger of a less-than-expected reaction to the overall initial seasonal product.
Nothing else managed to gross over $1 million. Just under in sixth was “Hot Pursuit” (Warner Bros.) at $940,000. followed by “Far from the Madding Crowd” (Fox Searchlight) expanding to 865 theaters for $607, 000 and seventh. “Furious 7” (Universal/$537,000) placed eighth, “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” (Sony) and “The Age of Adeline” (Lionsgate) tied for ninth with $425,000.