‘Pitch Perfect 2’ Belts Out $70 Million Showstopper at Box Office

“Mad Max: Fury Road” roars to muscular $44 million but proves no match for the Barden Bellas, who dethrone blockbuster “Avengers: Age of Ultron”

Last Updated: May 17, 2015 @ 1:00 PM

Turns out girls — specifically, the Barden Bellas of the musical comedy “Pitch Perfect 2” who belted out a stunning $70 million domestic box-office debut — really do rule the world.

Meanwhile, writer and director George Miller‘s R-rated “Mad Max: Fury Road” elevated vehicular manslaughter to an art form this weekend. With Tom Hardy replacing Mel Gibson as the Road Warrior, the film delivered more explosive beauty than fans waiting 30 years for a follow-up to the cult classic movies had hoped for in an impressive $44.4 million opening weekend.

But it was Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy, Anna Kendrick‘s Beca and the rest of the sweet and goofy a cappella singing team of “Pitch Perfect 2” that stole the show and blew away Disney’s Marvel superhero blockbuster “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Mad Max” and expectations with a spectacular opening number.

The debut — an eye-popping $30 million over the projections of the studio and analysts — topped the lifetime domestic box office total of the original and its $29 million budget and Universal confirmed Sunday that there will be a “Pitch Perfect 3.” It made the directing debut of Elizabeth Banks, who also co-stars, the richest ever for a first-time director, just ahead of Angeline Jolie, whose “Maleficent” opened to $69 million last year.

“We were confident that once we got people into theaters they would like the film and it would be successful, but there was no way to quantify it. To put up numbers like this is aca-awesome,” said Nick Carpou, the studio’s domestic distribution president, in a nod to the Bellas’ singing style.

For good measure, the girls went global and opened at No. 1 in the U.K., Germany and the Philippines, The plot of “Pitch Perfect 2,” has the Bellas competing in an international sing-off, and performers from each of those countries were featured. They were even battling for the top spot in Australia — the home turf of “Mad Max” — and brought in $38 million from 29 foreign markets, making this a $108 million weekend worldwide.

The breakout by the PG-13 “Pitch Perfect,” written by Kay Cannon, turned the anticipated battle of the sexes between it and the male-skewing “Mad Max” into a blowout. Hailee Steinfeld and Katey Sagal joined the ensemble cast of “Pitch Perfect 2,” which returns Skylar Astin, Brittany Show, Anna Camp and Adam DeVine from the original.

The reviews have been good (69 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes) and its predominantly young female fans brought the biggest shot of girl power seen at the box office since and “Frozen.” The audience was 75 percent female and 62 percent under the age of 25, making this the most impressive display of girl power since “Frozen,”and they gave it an “A-” CinemaScore.

Despite the No. 2 finish no one was complaining at Warner Bros. which, with Village Roadshow, provided most of the $150 million-plus it took to make “Mad Max: Fury Road.” That big budget means it will take a strong U.S. debut — done — and a powerful overseas performance to get into the black. It is off to a solid start, taking in $65 million from 68 foreign markets this weekend, after debuting Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival.

The critics love “Mad Max,” which co-stars Charlize Theron, and have it at a sterling 98 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes. Very male (70 percent) and slightly older (54 percent over 35) audiences weren’t quite as taken and gave it a “B+” CinemaScore.

It was a strong third-week showing — down just 50 percent from last week — by “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” On Friday it passed the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office and topped “Furious 7” as the year’s top film domestically, and this weekend it moved into the eighth spot on the list of all-time top-grossing films with $1.14 billion. Its domestic total is up to $372 million and it has taken in $770 million overseas.

The pyrotechnics supplied by the top three films meant that the overall weekend box office ran about four percent over the comparable frame last year, when “Godzilla” exploded for $93 million to top the second week for “Neighbors” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” in its third week.