'San Andreas' buries 'Aloha' at Friday box office

'San Andreas' looks on track to claim No. 1 at the weekend box office

It doesn't appear that there will be any major shake-ups at the box office this weekend, as "San Andreas" is on track to claim No. 1.

The earthquake thriller starring Dwayne Johnson was the top performer at the multiplex on Friday, taking in $18.2 million, according to distributor Warner Bros. That means the film is on track to collect a solid $45 million by weekend's end -- about as much as pre-release surveys had indicated.

The only other film that debuted in wide release this weekend was Cameron Crowe's "Aloha," a Hawaii-set, star-studded drama that has earned the filmmaker some of the worst reviews of his career. Sony Pictures said the film grossed $3.6 million on Friday, so the movie should end up with a underwhelming opening of about $10 million.

At least the film wasn't all that expensive to produce: $37 million compared with the massive $110-million budget of "San Andreas.'' Johnson's disaster flick received a mixed critical reception but was well-liked by early moviegoers: Those who saw the film on Friday assigned it an average grade of A-, according to market research firm CinemaScore. "Aloha" fared worse, earning a B- grade -- actually not so bad, considering the movie has only an 18% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

"San Andreas," about a helicopter pilot trying to save his loved ones in the aftermath of an earthquake, marks a needed win for Johnson at the box office. The former pro wrestler was part of the ensemble cast of "Furious 7" -- a box-office juggernaut -- but had been unable to attract as many ticket buyers as a leading man. His turn as "Hercules" last summer was a bit of a disappointment in the U.S. and Canada, where the pricey film topped out with $72.6 million. And his attempt at comedy with Mark Wahlberg in 2013's "Pain & Gain" fell flat; the film failed to exceed $90 million in sales worldwide.

Crowe, meanwhile, has become accustomed to bad news in recent years. Though he made his name on beloved films such as "Jerry Maguire" and "Almost Famous," the director hasn't had a hit in a decade. Though "Aloha" boasts an enviable cast -- Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Alec Baldwin, Rachel McAdams -- critics have complained that its plot about a defense contractor torn between two women is difficult to follow.

It remains to be seen, however, if "Aloha" will suffer more at the box office than Crowe's last film, the 2011 family drama "We Bought a Zoo." That Matt Damon film launched with just $9.3 million.

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'San Andreas' leaves critics shaken, not stirred

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