NORTH AMERICA: Weekend Estimates: ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ Zooms Past The Final Gross Of Its Predecessor With $70.3M Debut; ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ Speeds To Promising $44.4M Second Place Start

Sunday Update: Universal’s Pitch Perfect 2 was off to a terrific first place start this weekend with an estimated $70.33 million. The highly anticipated musical comedy sequel starring Anna Kendrick outpaced its already lofty pre-release expectations in a big way. Furthermore, Pitch Perfect 2 has already out-grossed the $65.00 million final domestic gross of 2012’s Pitch Perfect. An effective high-profile marketing campaign and the rush out of the film’s fanbase (which continued to grow after the original film was released to the home market) both helped turn Pitch Perfect 2 into an event film. Pitch Perfect 2 opened a very impressive 43 percent ahead of the $49.03 million debut of Universal’s Neighbors last May.

Pitch Perfect 2 opened with $28.0 million on Friday (which included an estimated $4.6 million from Thursday evening shows), was down 12 percent on Saturday to gross $24.6 million and is estimated to decline 28 percent on Sunday to take in $17.73 million. That places the film’s estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio at 2.51 to 1. The audience breakdown for the film skewed heavily towards female moviegoers (75 percent) and towards moviegoers under the age of 25 (62 percent). The film received a promising A- rating on CinemaScore.

Following in the footsteps of Fifty Shades of Grey and Furious 7, Pitch Perfect 2 represents another strong performer thus far in 2015 for Universal. The studio looks to continue its strong start to the year in the coming months with the likes of Jurassic World, Ted 2 and Minions.

While it ultimately didn’t challenge Pitch Perfect 2 for first place this weekend, Warner’s Mad Max: Fury Road was off to a very solid second place start with an estimated $44.44 million. The critically acclaimed action film starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron opened on the high end of expectations (which were strengthened due to the film’s very strong critical reviews). Fury Road was one of this summer’s bigger question marks due in part to its high price tag and the 30-year gap between it and the franchise’s last film, 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Mad Max: Fury Road opened 13 percent below the $51.05 million start of 2012’s Prometheus and will hope to hold up better than Prometheus did.

Mad Max: Fury Road took in $16.77 million on Friday (which included an estimated $3.7 million from Thursday evening shows), fell a slim 3 percent on Saturday to gross $16.27 million and is estimated to fall 30 percent on Sunday to gross $11.40 million. That gives the film an estimated opening weekend to Friday ratio of 2.65 to 1. The audience breakdown for the film skewed heavily towards male moviegoers (70 percent) and towards moviegoers over the age of 35 (54 percent). Mad Max: Fury Road received a B+ rating on CinemaScore, which suggests that the film may not be going over quite as well with moviegoers as it has with critics.

3D grosses represented 46 percent of the overall gross for Mad Max: Fury Road this weekend.

Avengers: Age of Ultron fell two spots to place in third this weekend with an estimated $38.84 million. In the process, the blockbuster superhero sequel from Disney and Marvel zoomed past Furious 7 to become the highest grossing release of 2015 thus far domestically with a 17-day take of $372.01 million. Without adjusting for ticket price inflation, Avengers: Age of Ultron claimed the fifth largest third weekend gross of all-time (behind only Avatar, Marvel’s The Avengers, Spider-Man and The Dark Knight).

Avengers: Age of Ultron was down a sizable 50 percent from last weekend, which was understandable given the one-two punch it took from Pitch Perfect 2 and Mad Max: Fury Road this weekend. In comparison, 2012’s The Avengers fell just 46 percent in its third weekend to gross $55.64 million, while 2013’s Iron Man 3fell 51 percent to gross $35.77 million. Avengers: Age of Ultron is currently running 19 percent behind the $457.67 million 17-day take of The Avengers and 10 percent ahead of the $337.66 million 17-day gross ofIron Man 3.

Warner’s Hot Pursuit landed in fourth place with an estimated $5.78 million. The comedy from MGM and New Line starring Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara fell two spots and a sharp 59 percent from last weekend. The added presence of Pitch Perfect 2, mixed word of mouth and last weekend’s debut being inflated a bit by Mother’s Day all contributed to the film’s decline this weekend. Hot Pursuit has grossed a softer than expected $23.50 million in ten days. That places the film 8 percent behind the $25.52 million ten-day take of 2011’s Something Borrowed.

Saturday Update: Universal reports that Pitch Perfect 2 scored a stellar $27.8 million opening day on Friday, including Thursday’s early show grosses. That not only bests the $26 million first day take of The Fault In Our Stars last summer, but it also bests the entire opening weekends of fellow summer musicalsMamma Mia! ($27.75 million) and Hairspray (2007) ($27.48 million). The first Pitch was a sleeper hit at the box office and grew its audience enormously in the post-theatrical market thanks to strong word of mouth, particularly among women. The sequel now has a chance to earn more on opening weekend than its predecessor’s entire domestic run ($65 million). Reviews, while not as strong as the first film, are solid enough at 67 percent on Rotten Tomatoes while the audience score is an encouraging 81 percent. BoxOffice projects a $69 million opening weekend.

Bowing in a strong second place, Warner Bros.’ Mad Max: Fury Road landed $16.77 million on Friday (also including Thursday earnings). George Miller’s franchise revival has been the recipient of snowballing buzz in recent days as more than 200 critics have awarded the film a shocking 98 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Combined with the film’s inherent fan appeal, more and more moviegoers are growing curious as to what the buzz is all about — translating to an opening day on par with last year’s Lucy ($17.1 million) and not far behind 300: Rise of an Empire ($17.5 million). It’s tricky to tell how the weekend will play out, though. While early audience word of mouth from the RT community is excellent (94 percent — the best of any release since Guardians of the Galaxy last summer), Fury Road earned a middling “B+” CinemaScore. We think the former stat will prove a bit more relevant in the long run. For the weekend, BoxOffice projects $43 million.

Moving down to third place for the first time, Avengers: Age of Ultron added $10.06 million yesterday — off 53 percent from last Friday. That’s in line with Iron Man 3‘s third Friday drop (-52%). To date, Ultron has tallied $343.2 million domestically, putting it 18 percent off the pace off the first Avengers and 10 percent ahead of the aforementioned Iron Man 3. Look for a third weekend total around $37.9 million.

In fourth, Hot Pursuit slid 58 percent from its first day last week to $1.76 million yesterday. The comedy targeting women always had its work cut out for it given this weekend’s top opener, and it now stands at $19.5 million through eight days of release. BoxOffice projects a $5.3 million sophomore frame.

Filling out the top five, The Age of Adaline was down just 34 percent from last Friday to $1.01 million yesterday. The generally well-received romantic drama has earned $34.9 million to date and should net a $3.1 million weekend.

Check BoxOffice on Sunday for official weekend estimates from the studios.

Friday Report #2: Sources tell BoxOffice that Pitch Perfect 2 is on pace for around $50 million during its debut frame. Meanwhile, Mad Max: Fury Road should hit $45 million.

Check back tomorrow for updated projections and official studio estimates.

Friday Report #1: Pitch Perfect 2 got off to an excellent start on Thursday evening with $4.6 million earned from its first round of shows. That’s ahead of The Great Gatsby‘s $3.25 million Thursday start two Mays ago, as well as the $4.1 million by The Divergent Series: Insurgent back in March. For the weekend, the much anticipated sequel to 2012’s sleeper hit looks poised to earn north of $50 million.

Meanwhile, Mad Max: Fury Road got off to a strong start all its own. The franchise’s first entry in three decades stormed in with $3.7 million last night as it rides a wave of stellar critical reviews and considerable anticipation from genre fans. Comparisons are even more tricky for this flick, but that figure isn’t far behind Dawn of the Planet of the Apes‘ $4.1 million last July, lines up with Pacific Rim‘s $3.6 million, edges out 300: Rise of an Empire‘s $3.3 million, and more than doubles Edge of Tomorrow‘s $1.8 million.

More as it comes…