Weekend Box Office (May 22 - 25, 2015)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Moviegoers loudly told studios that they were getting their Memorial Day weekend entertainment from other places as the North American box office slumped to unusually low levels during what is typically one of the busiest frames of the year. The Top 10 over the Friday-to-Monday long weekend fell to just $181.9M marking the worst showing for this holiday since 2001. And it was the worst gross for the number one film on Memorial Day weekend in 20 years. Five films grossed over $25M each over four days spreading what wealth was there, but overall, moviegoers were unimpressed with what Hollywood was selling this time.

Disney's big-budget adventure film Tomorrowland opened at number one, but pulled in unimpressive numbers in the process. The PG-rated sci-fi pic headlined by George Clooney bowed to an estimated $41.7M over the four-day holiday session from 3,972 locations (including 354 IMAX screens) for a $10,508 average. Over the three-day portion, the pic sold $33M in ticket sales which is a troubling start for a tentpole earning a high-profile Memorial Day weekend slot and costing over $180M to produce. By comparison, the top films during this same holiday weekend over the last two years each opened to much more than twice as much.

Tomorrowland failed to get its story across in the trailers and TV spots and consumer excitement never was very high. Many reviews were negative for the Brad Bird-directed pic and even those moviegoers who did come out were not very impressed. The film earned a so-so B CinemaScore grade indicating that it is not being recommended with much enthusiasm.

Memorial Day weekend openers often finish up with around two and half times their four-day debuts so Tomorrowland, with no stellar word-of-mouth to benefit from, could end its domestic run in the area of only $100-110M. That will put pressure on international markets to help it break even.

But overseas openings this weekend in 65 territories delivered only $26.7M through Sunday led by Russia's $3.6M, Mexico's $2.8M, and $2.1M from the U.K. Key markets still to come include Spain, China, Australia and Korea next weekend followed by Japan and Brazil on the following frame. Many countries have school holidays coming up which Tomorrowland hopes to benefit from, but making this film into a moneymaker will certainly be difficult.

Following its strong number one debut, Pitch Perfect 2 slipped to second place falling steep to an estimated $38.5M. The Universal hit's three-day gross of $30.3M was down 56% and the much-hyped film has amassed a stellar $126M to date giving the studio its third entry this year into the century club after Fifty Shades of Grey and Furious 7 with more brand-based heavyweights like Jurassic World, Ted 2, and Minions coming up this summer. Worldwide, Perfect has grossed $188M.

Good word-of-mouth has been helping Mad Max: Fury Road during the week and again over the holiday weekend. The R-rated film dropped a reasonably low 45% over the three-day period to an estimated $32.1M over the long weekend in its second round boosting the cume to $95.5M. It was smaller than the 47% drop experienced by 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness which also opened on the weekend before the Memorial Day frame on its way to reaching three times its opening weekend figure. In fact most action films launching in this same spot fall by 50-60% in the second round.

Crashing the $400M barrier and still in the top five was summer kickoff pic Avengers: Age of Ultron with an estimated $27.8M for a 44% decline (during the Friday-to-Sunday portion). The Disney release upped its North American cume to $411M putting it at number 14 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters passing Iron Man 3 from 2013. International grosses swelled to $859.8M putting Ultron at $1.27 billion worldwide making it the second biggest super hero film of all-time after the first Avengers. Domestically, the new chapter is running 22% behind the pace of the first Avengers, but 10% ahead of Iron Man 3.

The horror remake Poltergeist attracted a large crowd opening to an estimated $22.6M over three days and $26.5M over the long weekend for the biggest fright film debut since last October's Halloween season offerings. The PG-13 film earned lackluster reviews but scored an impressive $8,179 four-day average from 3,240 locations for Fox. The original Poltergeist was a smash hit in 1982 and spawned a pair of sequels.

Oddly enough, this was not the first time the Top 10 has included both Poltergeist and Mad Max films. In June of 1982 when the original supernatural thriller opened, it was joined a few notches below the holdover film The Road Warrior which was the sequel to the first Max.

Comedy flop Hot Pursuit dropped to an estimated $4.6M for a new cume of just $30M for Warner Bros. Fox Searchlight went nationwide with its arthouse pic Far From the Madding Crowd going from 289 to 865 locations and grossed an estimated $3M with $6.1M overall.

The world's fourth biggest blockbuster of all time, Furious 7, fell in its eighth weekend in the top ten grossing an estimated $2.8M. Universal has lifted its domestic total to $347.7M and its global tally to a hair below $1.5 billion. It will cross that mark on Monday or Tuesday bringing the franchise cume to a staggering $3.9 billion across seven films in 14 years with the next installment on the calendar for April 2017.

Sony's Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 took in an estimated $2.5M and has banked $66.4M to date. The hit spring toon Home followed with an estimated $2.4M in its ninth weekend for a new total of $168.7M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $181.9M over the Friday-to-Monday holiday weekend which was down 16% from last year when X-Men: Days of Future Past opened at number one with $110.6M; and down 41% from 2013 when Fast & Furious 6 debuted in the top spot with $117M.

Compared to four-day projections, Tomorrowland opened a couple of notches below my $45M forecast while Poltergeist came in higher than my $22M prediction.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

For a NEW review of Tomorrowland visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Tuesday for final figures and again on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when San Andreas and Aloha open.

# Title May 22 - 25 May 15 - 17 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Tomorrowland $ 42,679,200 3,972 1 $ 10,745 $ 42,679,200 Disney
2 Pitch Perfect 2 38,252,200 69,216,890 -44.7 3,560 2 10,745 125,738,795 Universal
3 Mad Max: Fury Road 31,287,441 45,428,128 -31.1 3,722 2 8,406 94,717,720 Warner Bros.
4 Avengers: Age of Ultron 28,198,906 38,859,900 -27.4 3,727 4 7,566 411,369,385 Disney
5 Poltergeist 26,341,432 3,240 1 8,130 26,341,432 Fox
6 Hot Pursuit 4,585,038 5,722,488 -19.9 2,577 3 1,779 30,030,278 Warner Bros.
7 Far From the Madding Crowd 2,992,810 1,251,923 139.1 865 4 3,460 6,155,415 Fox Searchlight
8 Furious 7 2,834,135 3,648,980 -22.3 1,653 8 1,715 347,723,320 Universal
9 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 2,639,058 3,543,850 -25.5 1,878 6 1,405 66,456,767 Sony
10 Home 2,477,568 2,554,959 -3.0 1,444 9 1,716 168,792,497 Fox
11 The Age of Adaline 1,966,497 3,129,455 -39.3 1,643 5 1,197 40,355,912 Lionsgate
12 Ex Machina 1,808,566 2,093,669 -13.6 896 7 2,018 22,379,637 A24
13 Tanu Weds Manu Returns 1,271,751 136 1 9,351 1,271,751 Eros
14 Woman in Gold 1,195,930 1,195,831 -4.3 662 8 1,807 30,700,880 Weinstein Co.
15 Cinderella 556,356 631,608 -11.9 356 11 1,563 197,998,802 Disney
16 Get Hard 344,367 602,153 -42.8 255 9 1,350 89,362,050 Warner Bros.
17 Where Hope Grows 342,876 457,287 -25.0 221 2 1,551 971,395 Roadside Attr.
18 The Longest Ride 342,722 548,954 -37.6 329 7 1,042 36,856,747 Fox
19 The Divergent Series: Insurgent 317,368 381,959 -16.9 266 10 1,193 128,734,480 Lionsgate
20 Monkey Kingdom 242,428 480,177 -49.5 290 6 836 15,867,156 Disney
Top 5 $ 166,759,179 $ 162,876,386 2.4
Top 10 182,287,788 175,450,242 3.9
Top 20 190,676,649 181,182,920 5.2
Top 20 vs. Memorial Day 2014 190,676,649 227,063,871 -16.0

Last Updated: May 25, 2015 at 11:00PM ET

©1997 - 2015 Box Office Guru