Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s “San Andreas” rumbled to $3.1 million at the Thursday box office, an impressive first step for the 3D earthquake action film.
That haul is more than double the $1.4 million Thursday night take of “Gravity,” the similarly 3D disaster thriller from Warner Bros. that debuted with $55.7 million in October of 2013. And it’s way ahead of “Aloha,” the Bradley Cooper-Emma Stone romantic comedy from Cameron Crowe and Sony, which managed $500,000 in its debut Thursday.
Thursday shows aren’t always indicative of how the weekend will go at the box office, but this one probably is. The PG-13-rated “San Andreas” is expected to roll to $40 million, take away the No. 1 spot from Disney’s sci-fi adventure film “Tomorrowland” and swamp the weekend’s other wide opener “Aloha.”
“San Andreas,” which is directed by Brad Peyton and co-stars Paul Giamatti, Carla Gugino and Joan Gruffudd, will have to go some to top “Gravity.”
The space epic from director Alfonso Cuarón starred Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and was a box office game-changer because while there had been other big openings, it was the first film to deliver blockbuster grosses in October.
“Gravity” eventually took in $716 million globally and $274 million domestically and ranks as the No. 3 disaster film of all time, behind only 1997’s “Titanic” ($658 million domestic) and 1996’s “Independence Day” ($306 million).
“San Andreas” will be in 3,777 theaters as of Friday, while “Gravity” opened in 3,575. “San Andreas,” like the space thriller, is expected to get a big boost from 3D and showings in 365 IMAX theaters along with the ticket price upcharges they bring.
“Aloha” will be in 2,815 theaters for Sony. Positive word of mouth, rather than large grosses, is what Sony is hoping the romantic comedy can generate this weekend, but it will have to overcome some rough reviews. It’s currently at a dismal 15 percent positive with 81 reviews counted on Rotten Tomatoes.
The tale of a Hawaii-set romance between a defense contractor (Cooper) and an Air Force pilot (Stone) skews older and the studio hopes it can find its audience over the next few weeks.