As we approach the summer festival season, we also find ourselves smack dab in the middle of heated competitions at the box office. Ever studio is looking for that one big release, that has them atop the weekend total come Monday. Most recently, we’ve seen Avengers: Age of Ultron absolutely dominate, opening to the tune of $191 million. Since then, it of course has seen a gradual decline, unseated from the top spot in just its third week in theaters.
Typically, it takes a similarly Marvel-esque release to oust something as huge as an Avengers movie. Already, Age of Ultron has roped in over $1.1 billion worldwide, shattering records left and right. And yet somehow, it already found itself beat out by not one, but two new releases during the mid-May weekend. Taking the top spots respectively were Pitch Perfect 2 ($69 million) and Mad Max: Fury Road ($45 million). With the new Avengers sitting pretty in third place at $38 million, it leads to the realization that it was one of the oddest weekend box offices in recent memory.
In terms of the sheer variety of audiences, it makes for an interesting dynamic. Essentially what it comes down to is a simple fact that there are two kinds of moviegoers: The ones who saw Pitch Perfect 2 and the ones who saw the new Mad Max. On one hand, we have two movies that content-wise couldn’t be any different. One is about a group of women looking for redemption led by a self-assured A-list Hollywood star, and the other is… relatively the same thing. Despite Pitch Perfect 2 being the movie aimed primarily at female audiences, interestingly enough it’s the action movie in Fury Road that’s most empowering toward women thematically.
Both movies are sequels, feature a predominantly female cast of heroes, and yet the one with the most overtly feminist message was the one that wasn’t marketed to women as heavily as PP2. With the Pitch Perfect follow-up effort, we have a more typical run at a movie, that despite its crossover appeal, still largely is directed in decidedly female direction. In terms of the way the studio cut their trailer and marketed the movie, it’s pretty clear where their focus in terms of target audience. Conversely, Fury Road‘s empowering message was largely lost in the pre-release lead-up.
That’s not to say that one movie is only for one demographic. Both have insane crossover appeal (hence their place atop the box office), but what makes this whole thing intriguing is how two movies that in many ways couldn’t be more different, are at the same time so very similar. They represent two sides of the same coin: One the highly marketable crossover movie angled slightly toward a female audience, and the other a feminist narrative marketed toward men as a continuation of the Mad Max/Road Warrior franchise. Both represent a master class in how to advertise your movie, with each making vastly different choices with similar results.
The box office battles will continue to heat up this summer, with big-name popcorn movies like Tomorrowland, Jurassic World, Ant-Man, and Entourage starting to hit theaters. And all this is without mentioning the fact that a new Star Wars movie is on the horizon this December. After a down year in 2014, this year could shape up to be one of the best of the film industry they’ve ever had.
(All box office info lifted from Box Office Mojo)
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