Disney's "Tomorrowland" is leading a slower-than-expected Memorial Day weekend at the box office with a studio-estimated $40.7 million four-day haul projected for the U.S. and Canada, lower than initial estimates that went as high as $50 million.
The Brad Bird-directed film, a bright and optimistic futuristic fantasy, cost $170 million to make. The film's Friday-Sunday gross was estimated at $32.2 million, giving it a narrow lead over "Pitch Perfect 2." That Universal Pictures film, now in its second weekend, was tracking at $30.3 million through Sunday.
The musical comedy about an all-female a cappella group is coming off a mighty debut weekend in which it grossed $69.2 million, besting the entire $65-million domestic theatrical run of the original "Pitch Perfect." The sequel crossed the $100-million threshold this weekend and was on target for a four-day total of $37.9 million. The film has grossed an additional $61.7 million in foreign markets.
"Tomorrowland," which stars George Clooney and relative newcomer Britt Robertson, opened in nearly 4,000 theaters. Filmgoers have graded the film a B, according to audience polling service CinemaScore, while reviews have been decidedly mixed; the movie received a 50% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan praised the film's ambitions but slighted it for an overly convoluted plot.
Inspired by the themed land inside Disney's theme parks, as well as Walt Disney's promising vision of a technologically enhanced future, "Tomorrowland" had been cloaked in secrecy prior to its release.
Audiences were essentially split evenly between men and women, and families constituted about 30% of those who saw the film.
The film is expected to gross an estimated $26.7 million in foreign markets this weekend, which would bring its global total to about $58.9 million.
This year's Memorial Day box office has been considerably slower compared with recent years. "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" -- like "Tomorrowland," a Disney film inspired by the company's theme parks -- holds the Memorial Day weekend record. It opened in 2007 with $139.8 million in the U.S. and Canada.
Last year, Bryan Singer's "X-Men: Days of Future Past" debuted with $110.6 million domestically, making it fifth-biggest opening for the holiday weekend.
This weekend's other newcomer, MGM and Fox 2000's remake of the 1982 cult classic "Poltergeist," was on track to open in fourth place with about $23 million for Friday through Sunday -- besting modest studio projections. The film has been pummeled in reviews, receiving only a 33% Rotten Tomatoes fresh rating; it has been turning off audiences as well, reflected in a CinemaScore grade of C-plus.
In third place was holdover "Mad Max: Fury Road," the Warner Bros. reboot of George Miller's dystopian franchise. Bolstered by strong reviews and positive word of mouth, "Mad Max" was expected to gross an estimated $23.9 million through Sunday.
That number represented a 47% drop from its opening weekend. After Monday numbers are reported, the film should be near the $100-million mark domestically.
Disney's "Avengers: Age of Ultron" was tracking for fifth place with $20.1 million through Sunday. The film this weekend should cross the $400-million mark domestically.