Audiences gravitate to San Andreas
LOS ANGELES (AP):
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson outmuscled the competition at domestic cinemas as the earthquake epic San Andreas hauled in an estimated US$53.2 million over the weekend. It was Johnson's biggest debut for a non-sequel as the top-billed actor, according to box office tracker Rentrak.
The action star helped the movie overperform on the west coast, despite fears that audiences in earthquake-prone regions would shy away, said Dan Fellman, president of Domestic Distribution for Warner Bros, which distributed the film made by its New Line unit.
"Some people felt they'd be a little nervous watching such a disaster hit both Los Angeles and San Francisco, but there was a curiosity factor," Fellman said. "They went, they packed the cinemas and they liked it."
Aloha, the critically maligned romantic comedy from director Cameron Crowe, opened in sixth place with US$10 million.
The movie was dogged by controversy. Leaked e-mails from former Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal last year labelled the Aloha script "ridiculous". Then some native Hawaiian groups opposed the title as misappropriating the concept of the word. An Asian-American group criticised the use of a nearly all-white cast in a film shot in Hawaii, a heavily Asian island chain.
A slew of critics slammed the movie, many calling it "confusing", wondering if parts of it were missing and saying it was Cameron's "worst" film ever, despite the all-star cast of Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, and Rachel McAdams. They combined to give it a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 17 per cent.
Sony Pictures Entertainment's president of Worldwide Distribution, Rory Bruer, said Aloha did well enough with women aged 25-34 years old to overcome the negative buzz. The film cost about US$37 million to make.
"Ultimately we are going to come out just fine on the movie, but more than anything we're proud of the film," he said.
After showings, audiences gave San Andreas 3.5 out of 5 stars on average, while giving Aloha just 2 out of 5.
Paul Dergarabedian, Rentrak's senior media analyst, said the expectations-busting performance of San Andreas in cinemas helped jolt Hollywood out of a funk that began on the Memorial Day long weekend.
"For it to perform in this way when typically the summer is driven by sequels proves the power of Dwayne Johnson at the box office," Dergarabedian said. "He's a seismic event all on his own."
For the year-to-date box office revenues for cinemas in the US and Canada are up nearly five per cent at US$4.26 billion, while attendance is up more than four per cent.
Following are the estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at US and Canadian cinemas, according to Rentrak. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. San Andreas, US$53.2m
2. Pitch Perfect 2, US$14.8m
3. Tomorrowland, US$13.8m
4. Mad Max: Fury Road, US$13.6m
5. Avengers: Age of Ultron, US$10.9m
6. Aloha, US$10m
7. Poltergeist, US$7.8m
8. Far From the Madding Crowd, US$1.4m
9. Hot Pursuit, US$1.4m
10. Home, US$1.2m