UK Box Office

Pitch Perfect 2 outsings Mad Max: Fury Road at the UK box office.

On song ... Pitch Perfect 2 is No 1 at the UK box office. Photograph: Alamy

On song … Pitch Perfect 2 is No 1 at the UK box office. Photograph: Alamy

Reboots make their voices heard as Elizabeth Banks’s a cappella comedy hits the highest note and George Miller’s road warrior screeches in behind

The head-to-head

When Warners and Universal both opted for the third weekend in May as the release date for their films Mad Max: Fury Road and Pitch Perfect 2, most industry analysts expected the rebooted road warrior to beat the glee club maidens. After all, George Miller’s slice of post-apocalyptic vehicular carnage comes with a reported $150m (£97m) production price tag, compared with around $30m for the a cappella comedy. The original Pitch Perfect film opened in the UK with £952,000, on its way to a lifetime total of £6.49m – thus achieving a large multiple of its opening number.

Pitch Perfect went on to deliver significant sales on DVD, building an audience that has evidently converted to theatrical with this sequel: Pitch Perfect 2 has debuted with a stunning £5.01m from 496 cinemas, yielding a site average above £10,000. The film looks well-positioned to play as both a weekend date-night attraction and also a midweek evening out for female friendship groups, and the 12A-certificate title will also benefit from the school half-term holiday, which begins on 22 May. Pitch Perfect 2 has achieved one of the biggest-ever opening-weekend numbers for a female director (Elizabeth Banks), following the success earlier this year for Sam Taylor-Johnson with Fifty Shades of Grey.

Previous franchises that followed a similar pattern – a big theatrical uptick with the second film, following a stellar DVD result with the first – include Austin Powers, Jason Bourne and Twilight.

The success of Pitch Perfect 2 means that Mad Max: Fury Road had to settle for second place. That indignity aside, the achieved number is actually entirely decent, especially when you consider the risk of mounting a sequel to a film franchise that saw its most recent entry come out in 1985. The danger was always that younger audiences didn’t know or care about the character, leaving nostalgic middle-aged males as the primary target. Fury Road has kicked off with £4.54m, including £639,000 in previews. That’s the biggest-ever debut for a film featuring Tom Hardy in the lead role: titles that opened bigger, such as Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, showcased the actor in a supporting part.

Mad Max’s distributor Warners released Godzilla a year ago in the same mid-May slot – another film based on a vintage property. Godzilla debuted with £6.39m, a little ahead of Mad Max: Fury Road. Thereafter, it fell away rather quickly, achieving a lifetime total of £17.24m.

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