Box Office: SAN ANDREAS Shakes Off Expectations with $53.2 Million Debut

     May 31, 2015

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In terms of summer box office openings, it’s not exactly “the big one.” But with an estimated $53.2 million from 3,777 locations, San Andreas did wind up topping industry expectations by a significant margin. Up until last night, Warner Bros.’ earthquake disaster pic was expected to open in the $45 million range – already high enough to make it the biggest debut for star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson outside of the Fast and Furious franchise. But thanks to a 13% jump from Friday to Saturday, San Andreas did not just set a new benchmark for The Rock, it also blew past the final domestic total of Warner Bros.’ last disaster release, 2014’s Into the Storm, in just three days.

san-andreas-movie-posterA few factors added strength to San Andreas this weekend. To start, a majority of the film’s locations were in 3D, which means that people who wanted to watch the West Coast crumble had to pay a bit more for the privilege. Audience good-will also helped boost the film’s box office. CinemaScore audiences gave San Andreas an A- . That’s higher than the B+ of Mad Max: Fury Road, though the two films clearly do not target the same core demographic.

In terms of its long-term impact, San Andreas should prove a sound investment. The film cost a reported $110 million before marketing and is likely to wind up with at least $140 million by the end of its domestic run. But thanks to The Rock’s worldwide publicity blitz – and a big assist from the global success of Furious 7San Andreas is expected to do big business in its international markets. The film earned $60 million from its initial 60 territories this weekend, with expansions in China, Hong Kong and Korea scheduled for next week.

For the second week in a row, Pitch Perfect 2 held the number two spot at the box office. The sequel has already earned $228 million worldwide: nearly doubling the $115 million global take of 2012’s Pitch Perfect. Also in its third week in theatres, Mad Max: Fury Road was down 44%, putting it in fourth place. Worldwide, the fanboy favorite has earned almost $281 million – so take that Pitch Perfect 2.

Just slightly ahead of Mad Max is last weekend’s number one movie: Tomorrowland. Disney’s family-friendly adventure pic took in an estimated $13.8 million in its sophomore frame, or a drop of 58% from its debut. Considering the movie cost almost $200 million before marketing, those stats are not encouraging. After  ten days in theatres, Tomorrowland has taken in $63.1 million, or just $10 million more than San Andreas collected in three. Disney might have been able to look to international grosses to offset that budget but, so far, Tomorrowland is not distinguishing itself overseas either. Since debuting last weekend, the film has pulled in $70 million outside of North America for a worldwide total of $133.1 million.


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Image via Columbia Pictures

Though San Andreas clearly did the most damage at this weekend’s box office, we should take some time to check in with the frame’s other wide release: Aloha. We told you yesterday that the romantic comedy/drama from director Cameron Crowe was struggling to overcome bad word of mouth and extremely negative reviews (its now down to 17% on Rotten Tomatoes). I guess the good news is that, from a box office perspective, things didn’t get any worse for Aloha. The film was expected to open in the $10 million range and $10 million is exactly where it ended up. On the other hand, $10 million is fairly disastrous for a movie with an all-star cast from a beloved director.

Overall, this weekend’s box office was worth an estimated $132.7 million in total – down 20% from the same frame last year, when Disney launched Maleficent to $69.4 million. On Wednesday the not-at-all awaited big screen version of HBO’s Entourage will hit theatres, followed on Friday by Melissa McCarthy in Spy. Entourage should do slightly better than Aloha (in other words, not very well), while Spy is expected to open with at least $40 million.

Until then, here’s a look at this weekend’s top ten:

 Title Weekend Total
1.  San Andreas $53,200,000 $53.2
2.  Pitch Perfect 2 $14,381,000 $147.5
3.  Tomorrowland $13,803,000 $63.1
4.  Mad Max: Fury Road $13,625,000 $115.9
5.  Avengers: Age of Ultron $10,920,000 $427
6.  Aloha $10,000,000 $10
7.  Poltergeist (2015) $7,800.000 $38.2
8.  Far From the Madding Crowd $1,420,000 $8.3
9.  Hot Pursuit $1,370,000 $32.3
10.  Home $1,150,000 $170.4

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