Remember when Christina Ricci starred opposite a computer-generated array of ghosts in Casper and Mel Gibson donned medieval garb in Braveheart? Those were the two big openers of the 1995 Memorial Day weekend frame 20 years ago – and also the last time this oft-bustling moviegoing weekend failed to see a film hit the $40 million mark. Despite no strong opener over the holiday weekend, making this the lowest-grossing Memorial Day frame since 2001, moviegoers still came out to see a variety of thrilling films, five of which earned more than $20 million over the three days.
In first place was Tomorrowland, an original (and pricey) sci-fi adventure from Disney, which finished with an estimated $32.2 million over its first three days. (The projected four-day estimate is $40.7 million.) That would be a fine start for an original film in summer, but with a $180 million budget, as well as mixed reviews and audience reception (a B CinemaScore), the studio was probably hoping Brad Bird’s latest would break out even more.
Compared to the Mouse House’s other pricey disappointments, the film did a bit better than John Carter ($30.2 million), The Lone Ranger ($29.2 million on its opening weekend after a Wednesday start) and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time ($30.1 million on this holiday weekend five years ago). However, the lukewarm critical and crowd reception, and the lack of overseas potential means that Tomorrowland may not break even. At least the studio has another Tomorrowland (as in its theme park district) to help recoup losses.
After a superb opening last weekend, Pitch Perfect 2 dropped quite a bit but still found the best per-theater average in the Top 10. With $30.3 million in its sophomore frame, the hit music-themed comedy from Universal already has $117.8 million in its coffers. (The projected four-day estimate is $37.9 million.) The 56% drop was expected, considering the anticipation from young female fans, who typically show up for opening weekend. A finish between $175 and $185 million is likely, which is excellent for a film with a $29 million budget.
Speaking of sequels, Mad Max: Fury Road finished in third place over the weekend with an estimated $23.9 million. Good word-of-mouth helped the action-packed spectacle drop only 47%, although a lack of strong new competition also helped. (The projected four-day estimate has not yet been determined, but expect something just under $30 million.) When one considers the film’s rave reviews and strong weekday grosses, though, a smaller fall was expected. Nevertheless, with $87.3 million in 10 days, Fury Road could finish in the neighborhood of $130 million.