Weekend Box Office: San Andreas Rocks The Box Office

The natural disaster epic San Andreas had no trouble taking the number one spot at the North American box office this weekend. The Dwayne Johnson starrer opened to better-than-expected numbers, pushing last week’s champ Tomorrowland down to third place. A different type of cinematic disaster, Sony’s Aloha, couldn’t even make it into the top five. Despite San Andreas’ big debut, the top ten was down approximately 18% from last year at this time when Disney’s Maleficent arrived on the scene with a potent $69 million.

It’s been a while since a large-scale disaster epic brought viewers into multiplexes in decent numbers. Last year, Into the Storm open in mid-August where it earned a moderate $47 million. Prior to that, it was Roland Emmerich’s 2012 that opened to $65 million in the fall of 2009 en route to a sizable $166 million domestically.

While the $54.6 million earned by San Andreas on 3,777 screens this weekend isn’t as big an opening as the one for 2012, it does show that people were more than ready for some big screen destruction. Having a star such as Dwayne Johnson headlining the film doesn’t hurt either. In fact, the opening numbers represent a box office personal best for the actor formerly known as The Rock. Andreas’ debut was the best yet for Johnson in a headlining role, a figure undoubtedly achieved in some part by his being part of the ensemble cast of the three recent Fast and Furious movies.

Critical notices -which have never served any sort of purpose for this genre- were split for San Andreas on Rotten Tomatoes. The Brad Peyton feature scored a 49% approval rating but was bestowed with an “A-“ rating from ticket buyers on CinemaScore. With solid word-of-mouth and no direct competition until the June 12th arrival of Jurassic World, San Andreas should have a solid road ahead of it at the multiplex. The $110 million production also opened in overseas markets as well this past weekend where it shook up $60 million in additional ticket sales.

Landing in second place again was Universal’s smash hit Pitch Perfect 2 with $14.8 million from 3,660 screens. Down 52% the Elizabeth Banks-directed blockbuster has earned $147.5 million domestically so far and over $80 million from foreign markets. The Bellas could wind down their run near the $175-180 million mark, roughly six times the production cost. Japan actually debuted the first Pitch Perfect film in theaters this past weekend in anticipation of the sequel’s opening in June.

After an underwhelming opening over the long Memorial Day weekend, Disney’s Tomorrowland got knocked down to third place thanks to the one-two punch of San Andreas and mixed word-of-mouth from viewers. The pricey Brad Bird production lost 56% of its audience to earn $14.3 million from 3,972 theaters. After ten days Tomorrowland has earned $63.6 million and may be able to work its way to $90 million, roughly half of its production budget.

International markets have been equally as lukewarm on Tomorrowland as North America has. After two weeks of wide release, foreign totals currently stand at $70 million. This includes a six-day opening haul of $13.8 million from China.

Fourth place belonged to Warner’s action hit Mad Max: Fury Road with $14.1 million from 3,255 theaters. The film continues to benefit from favorable feedback among ticket buyers, which helped the film return to the number one spot twice during the previous midweek. Off 42%, Max and Furiosa have bagged $116.4 million and could make their way to $145-150 million by the end of its cinematic road. Fury Road’s foreign totals currently stand at $165 million.

Rounding out the top five was Disney/Marvel’s superhero blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron with $11.4 million from 3,220 theaters, a decrease in business from last weekend of 47%. Now in its fifth weekend of release, the action epic has taken in $427.5 million and is still aiming to wind down its run around the $450 million mark. Foreign sales stand at $895 million, of which $225 million has come from China alone.

One film that will neither benefit from critical notices, viewer word-of-mouth or anything else for that matter is the new Sony release Aloha. The troubled Cameron Crowe production finally made it to theaters this weekend –it was originally scheduled for Christmas 2014- where it was buried by the studio, savaged by critics (18% Rotten Tomatoes rating) and all but ignored by ticket buyers (rightfully so since what made it to screens was pretty awful).

Despite the screen presence of Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams and Bill Murray, very few people wandered into the 2,815 theaters showing the Hawaiian-themed romantic dramedy. The most Aloha could muster was a terrible $9.6 million, which was only good enough for sixth place. While that opening number is slightly higher than Crowe’s previous film -2011’s We Bought a Zoo-, there is little if any chance that Aloha will have the staying power to match Zoo’s $75 million final haul.

The remainder of the top ten was as follows:

  1.  Poltergeist (2015) (Fox) $8 million (-64%); $38.5 million
  1.  Far From The Madding Crowd (2015) (Fox) $1.4 million (-36%); $8.4 million
  1.  Hot Pursuit (Warner) $1.4 million (-61%); $32.3 million
  1.  Home (2015) (Fox) $1.2 million (-29%); $170 million

This upcoming week sees the Wednesday arrival of Entourage and the Friday debuts of Spy and Insidious: Chapter 3.

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