#AceBreakingNews – Featured Report:May.17: He tried hard, but Mad Max couldn’t topple a group of spunky a cappella singers and their female-friendly fan base.
Pitch Perfect 2 hit a high note for the musical comedy franchise, reaching No. 1 at the box office with an aca-awesome $70.3 million, according to studio estimates from Rentrak. In its first weekend, the sequel made more than the first Pitch Perfect in its entire domestic theatrical run ($65 million in 2012) and is the highest debut for a movie musical since 2008’s High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
The original film became "an absolute juggernaut on home video, and that just built this incredible interest by younger moviegoers" in the follow-up, says Rentrak senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
In second place was George Miller’s action-packed reboot Mad Max: Fury Road. The movie scored $44.4 million and was a critical success as well, with a 98% approval rating on the review-aggregate site RottenTomatoes.com.
Mad Max, with Tom Hardy in the role made famous by Mel Gibson in 1979, fared better than expected "and got some of the best reviews I’ve ever seen," Dergerabedian adds. "A lot of people somewhat marginalized the movie until they saw it, and then were absolutely blown away."
The counterprogramming worked out well for the studios; age and gender played a key role in the target audiences of the two movies. According to Rentrak, the audience for Pitch Perfect 2 was 72% female, compared to 60% male for Mad Max. The musical comedy attracted mostly youngsters — 57% under age 25 — while the action film drew 64% of its audience from moviegoers 25 and up.
The Perfect performance "even further solidifies that females can drive massive dollars to the multiplex," Dergarabedian says. "There is no question this is an audience that now is and should be the most coveted."
With strong critical acclaim, "Mad Max: Fury Road," starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, was No. 2 at the box office. (Photo: Jasin Boland)
In the coming weeks, more movie-goers will find out about Charlize Theron’s "tour de force" action-movie role as Furiosa in Mad Max, Dergarabedian says. "Women are going to figure out this isn’t just an action movie for guys. It’s a movie for everyone."
Superhero sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron was No. 3 with $38.8 million. An impressive $370 million take makes it the top film of 2015 in North America, and it has surpassed $1 billion internationally.