by Pamela McClintock, Rebecca Ford
Brad Bird’s tentpole Tomorrowland has narrowly pulled ahead of blockbuster Pitch Perfect 2 at the Memorial Day box office with an estimated three-day debut of $32.2 million, putting its four-day domestic launch at a disappointing $40.7 million for powerhouse Disney.
The race won’t officially be called until Monday when final estimates are released for the long holiday weekend. Overall, Memorial Day revenue is expected to be down nearly 18 percent from last year, when X-Men: Days of Future Past opened to $90.8 million.
Tomorrowland came in behind expectations in North America, and will need strong word of mouth to end up in the black, considering the live-action fantasy adventure cost $180 million to produce. Perhaps even more problematic, it was soft overseas, opening to $26.7 million from 65 markets.
In the film, George Clooney stars as an inventor who takes along a spirited teen (Britt Robertson) to an alternate world called Tomorrowland. The movie, an ode to Walt Disney’s hopes for creating a utopian society, also stars Hugh Laurie. Bird co-wrote the script with Damon Lindelof.
Heading into the long holiday weekend, most expected Tomorrowland to gross between $45 million and $50 million for the four days domestically, giving it a wide lead over box office sensation Pitch Perfect 2, now in its second weekend.
Instead, Pitch Perfect 2 continued to sing in perfect tune, thanks to its ardent female fan base. On Friday, it even looked like Universal’s sequel could end up beating Tomorrowland, but Tomorrowland gained traction on Saturday.
Pitch Perfect 2 earned an estimated $30.3 million for the three days, putting its four-day domestic gross at a projected $37.9 million. Overseas, the sequel earned another $15.2 million from 37 markets for a dazzling foreign total of $61.7 million and worldwide haul of $187 million through Monday (that includes just north of $125 million in North America).
After Tomorrowland, the other new Memorial Day offering is MGM and Fox 2000’s Poltergeist, which posted a three-day gross of $23 million for an estimated $27.7 million four-day opening, putting it at No. 4 just behind holdover Mad Max: Fury Road.
Poltergeist, directed by by Gil Kenan and produced by Sam Raimi, is a solid hit for MGM and Fox 2000, coming in ahead of expectations. The remake of the 1982 cult classic stars Sam Rockwell,Rosemarie DeWitt, Jared Harris and Jane Adams.
In its second weekend, George Miller’s Fury Road grossed $23.7 million for the three days, putting its projected four-day take at roughly $30 million. Through Monday, the critically acclaimed tenptole will have earned north of $90 million in North America for Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow Pictures.
Watch an interview with George Clooney about ‘Tomorrowland’ below: