Weekend Box Office: Tomorrowland Leads Weak Holiday Frame

People found better things to do over the Memorial Day holiday weekend other than go to the movies. For the first time in two decades, no film grossed more than $40 million in ticket sales over the long holiday weekend.

Disney’s costly Tomorrowland narrowly edged out Pitch Perfect 2 for the number one spot while Fox’s remake of Poltergeist opened in fourth place behind Mad Max: Fury Road. Experiencing its worst top ten in fourteen years, the North American box office found itself down nineteen percent from last year at this time when X-Men: Days of Future Past led the pack with a $90 million opening and a steep 43% from two years ago when Furious 6 scored $97 million.

Directed by Brad Bird (Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The Iron Giant) and starring Britt Robertson, George Clooney and Hugh Laurie, Tomorrowland has been a film shrouded in secrecy since the project was announced a few years back. The film’s trailers and television ads kept the mystery going, which was a refreshing change of pace from the “show us everything” marketing we have become used to these days.

Unfortunately, that approach to selling the $190 million fantasy feature appears to have backfired on the Mouse House. Tomorrowland opened on 3,972 screens this weekend where it earned a disappointing $32.1 million. With audiences still in the dark as to what the film was actually about, many looked to reviews from critics to see whether the film was worth their time and money. With critical notices being split right down the middle (49% approval on Rotten Tomatoes), those still unsure about Tomorrowland either opted to see something else or not go to the movies at all.

Those who ventured out to see Tomorrowland on opening day and were polled by CinemaScore gave the film a so-so “B” rating, a possible indicator of lukewarm word-of-mouth. Another troubling sign for Tomorrowland’s financial future would be this weekend’s international numbers. The film arrived in 65 territories -56% of the overseas market- the same day as its American debut where it pulled in an underwhelming $26.7 million.

The Bellas continued to sing up a wicked tune as Pitch Perfect 2 stepped down to second place where it earned an estimated $30.3 million from 3,560 theaters. A decrease of 56% from its debut, the Universal release has earned a great $118 million after ten days and could finish around the $175 million mark. Overseas the musical comedy added $15.2 million from 37 territories, which helped bring its global total to $187 million.

Warner’s Mad Max: Fury Road also held well in its sophomore session where it earned $23.8 million from 3,722 screens. Off 47%, the acclaimed George Miller flick has earned $87.3 million in North America so far. Even with inflation factored in, the latest chapter in the Mad Max franchise has become the highest grossing of the series. Strong word-of-mouth from ticket buyers is helping the film hold its ground not only on the weekend but also during the midweek. Max traded places with Pitch Perfect 2 twice this past week, taking the number one spot on Monday and Wednesday. Fury Road picked up an additional $38 million this weekend from 70 foreign markets, which helped push its global gross to $212 million.

In fourth place this weekend was the Fox/MGM remake of the 1982 horror classic Poltergeist. Critics, whose consensus earned the Gil Kenan-directed reboot a 32% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, dismissed the film. That didn’t stop horror crowds, who haven’t had any new product to choose from in roughly a month, from turning out in decent numbers. Produced for a moderate $35 million, Poltergeist debuted on 3,240 screens to scare up $23 million.

Still in the fight down in fifth place after a month of release was Disney/Marvel’s blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron with $20.8 million from 3,727 theaters. Off 46%, the superhero sequel crossed the $400 million mark on Saturday. It’s new domestic total stands at $404 million. Ultron added $46 million from foreign markets this weekend to bring its foreign total to $856 million. China has contributed a Hulk-sized $212 million so far.

Outside the top five:

  1.  Hot Pursuit (Warner) $3.4 million (-39%); $28.9 million
  1.  Far From the Madding Crowd (2015) (FoxS) $2.2 million (+82%); $5.4 million
  1.  Furious 7 (Universal) $2.1 million (-42%); $347 million
  1.  Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Sony) $1.75 million (-50%); $65 million
  1.  Home (Fox/Dreamworks) $1.68 million (-34%); $168 million

Next week brings the arrival of the disaster epic San Andreas and the new Cameron Crowe romantic comedy Aloha. San Andreas should have no problem whatsoever in claiming the number one spot.

Tomorrowland Review

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