Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 2,” directed by Elizabeth Banks, not only made more money over its opening weekend — $70.3 million — than its predecessor did for its entire theatrical run ($65 million), it’s also the highest-grossing launch for a musical and for a first-time director. And, as many headlines tell us, it did a number on the male-targeted “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which rang up a lesser $44.4 million despite its more favorable reviews.
“Sorry, Max. You just got ‘Pitch’ slapped,” is Brooks Barnes’s lede for the New York Times. “Going into the weekend, box-office analysts predicted the films would finish neck and neck. But women — historically overlooked by studios in the summer movie season — proved to be the more reliable audience.”
“About 72% of the audience for ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ was female, and 57% was younger than 25. Demographically, that group complemented the audience for ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ which was 60% male and 64% older than 25, and drove the domestic box office to its largest pre-Memorial Day weekend ever, at $183.4 million,” reports Rebecca Keegan for the Los Angeles Times.
“There’s something to be said for counter-programming,” Nick Carpou, Universal Pictures' president of domestic distribution, tells Keegan, “adding that the two movies ‘played almost like a perfect fit.’”
“It's aca-awesome,” Carpou tells the AP’s Lindsey Bahr — “using one of the catchphrases of the film about a cappella singing.”
The plot? “While the film’s predecessor saw Barden University freshman Beca (Anna Kendrick) help all-women singing group The Bellas reinvent their sound in time for a national competition, the sequel sees the troupe — now a tight sisterhood with on-campus digs — set its sights on world domination, by way of Fat Amy accidentally flashing President Obama,” sums up Manori Ravindran for the National Post.
Most of the cast from the first movie is back, Ravindran reports, along with “True Grit”’s Hailee Steinfeld and Chrissie Fit playing Flo, “a Guatemalan immigrant whose deadpan commentary on human trafficking and deportation gives the film a tentative — though dubious — grip on reality.”
“Carpou attributed some of the massive success to savvy positioning and the widespread appeal of the popular music and the charismatic, diverse cast. He noted that ads during the NBA playoffs and a Super Bowl spot helped to grow the film's audience base,” writes Bahr.
“Wow, just wow…,” exclaimsForbes contributor Scott Mendelson. “I’ve been discussing this film and the potential for a ‘Dark Knight’-style breakout for two years. In that time, I’ve occasionally written something to the effect of “I’m not saying ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ will open at $70 million, but…” as a way of not setting expectations too high.”
The take is “more than double the sequel’s $29 million budget,” points out Erich Schwartzel for the Wall Street Journal, and analysts were anticipating an opening in the $40 million range. “But not much about the ‘Pitch Perfect’ franchise has made sense by traditional Hollywood rules."
“Like the first ‘Austin Powers’ film, ‘Pitch Perfect’ put up big numbers on home entertainment platforms, allowing people to catch up with a movie they may have missed while it was in theatres,” reportsVariety’s Brent Lang. “Add to that the ubiquity of the breakout number from the first film, ‘Cups,’ and shows it inspired such as the reality series ‘Sing It On,’ and it's easy to understand the surge in interest between the two installments.”
“Home video sales raked in $103 million as the charms of the feisty and lovable Bellas spread from teenagers to their moms, brothers and boyfriends,” writes Jessica Contrera for the Washington Post. “(The Amy Schumer skit on guys and ‘Pitch Perfect’ really says it all.)
“And, of course, there was the success of ‘the cup song.’ Anna Kendrick’s video of ‘When I’m Gone’ — not even the rendition that appears in the movie — has raked in 200 million views on YouTube,” Contrera points out.
Adweek’s Garett Sloane took a look at the social media campaign that Universal has been waging for some time, writing: “A couple months ago, there were no sponsored videos on Snapchat Discover, no Periscope livestreams and no Facebook Instant Articles. The ‘Pitch Perfect’ sequel, however, is using a mix of paid and unpaid social marketing that touches on all of these, and it's a strategy that seems to be working.”
It also “was among the first advertisers to promote a new Facebook Instant Article courtesy of BuzzFeed,” Sloane reports.
Putting an exclamation mark on the end of the “Mad Men” era.