When fans of the wry “Pitch Perfect” series first met the ragtag singing group the Barden Bellas, they were ensconced in the college a cappella bubble. “Pitch Perfect 3” finally bursts that bubble, following the Bellas into adult life.
We are reintroduced to the group’s reluctant leader, Beca (Anna Kendrick), as she quits a demeaning record label job. In the same vein, Chloe (Brittany Snow) endures veterinary school, while Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) coasts on her Fat Amy Winehouse impersonation. Discouraged by the demands of the real world, the larger-than-life Bellas reunite to join a U.S.O. tour, where they vie to perform as the opening act for the record producer DJ Khaled (appearing as himself).
With the Bellas removed from their natural collegiate habitat, the a cappella competitions that once drove the series feel out of place. Though there is novelty in casting a contemporary artist like DJ Khaled in the movie’s kingmaker role, his presence is a reminder that the demands of real-world pop are very different from the demands of this franchise’s fantasy version of a cappella. Watching the Bellas mash together pop songs without sound mixing or instruments in Khaled’s presence feels at best obligatory and at worst embarrassing.
“Pitch Perfect 3” fares best when its director, Trish Sie, treats it as a fantastical buddy comedy. A side plot reuniting Fat Amy with her degenerate father (John Lithgow) nearly takes over the movie when Amy’s father kidnaps the Bellas. What follows is the film’s funniest scene, as the suddenly spry Amy, in an attempt to save her friends, refashions sausages into nunchucks and sandwich tinfoil into explosives. In another divergence, the Bellas destroy a hotel suite, releasing a swarm of bees and lighting curtains on fire to the horror of party guests.
With a plot as unfocused as its freshly graduated characters, the shaggy “Pitch Perfect 3” gets by on karaoke logic: What makes for a good time isn’t the song you sing, but the company you keep.Pitch Perfect 3” has opened with a solid $2.1 million at 2,600 North American sites on Thursday night.
Universal’s comedy expands to 3,447 locations on Friday. It has been projected for a four-day opening in the $27 million to $29 million range. The film will debut day-and-date in 15 international territories, including the U.K. and Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, and Singapore.
“Pitch Perfect 3” sees the cast reprise their roles as the Bellas, led by Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, and Anna Camp. It’s directed by Trish Sie, and produced by Paul Brooks of Gold Circle Entertainment, and Max Handelman and Elizabeth Banks of Brownstone Productions. Universal did not provide a budget, but sources estimate the film cost about $45 million.
Marketing for “Pitch Perfect 3” is aimed at the young female audience, which supported the 2012 original, helping it earn $115.4 million worldwide, and the 2015 sequel, which grossed $287.5 million. Universal partnered with NBC’s “The Voice” for the first-ever full-length music video in the history of the show, which was promoted across the Comcast family of channels, including NBC, USA, E!, Bravo, and OWN, as well as on Xfinity, Snapchat, and Fandango. The stars made numerous broadcast appearances in support of the film.
Paramount’s Matt Damon comedy “Downsizing” launched quietly with $425,000 from Thursday previews at approximately 1,900 North American locations. Alexander Payne directed “Downsizing,” which expands to 2,668 sites on Friday with expectations of $10 million to $12 million for the Friday-Monday period.
Disney-Lucasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is expected to remain dominant during the weekend. The tentpole took in $16.9 million domestically at 4,232 locations on Wednesday, down just 12% from Tuesday’s earnings. The North American total has hit $278.8 million in just six days.
Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” took in $7.55 million on Thursday from 3,765 locations for a total of $16.6 million. The film took in $2 million on Dec. 8 in an Amazon Prime promotion, then $7.2 million on opening day Wednesday. The action comedy, starring Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart, is on track for $45 million for the six day holiday period, which includes Christmas Day.
“Jumanji” has received an A- Cinemascore overall with the core under 25 audience awarding it an A. Reviewers have been supportive with an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Fox’s Hugh Jackman-starrer “The Greatest Showman” has grossed about $4.6 million in its first two days since opening Wednesday at 3,005 locations. That’s probably going to give “Showman” a six-day total of about $20 million, in line with recent forecasts.
Warner Bros. is also releasing the Owen Wilson-Ed Helms comedy “Father Figures” at 2,902 venues on Friday as part of its output deal with Alcon with forecasts for the Friday-Monday period of about $10 million.
Sony will launch the year’s final wide release on Christmas Day with “All the Money in the World” at about 2,068 sites. Director Ridley Scott managed to revamp the thriller in six weeks, completely cutting Kevin Spacey from the film following sexual harassment and assault allegations against the actor. Christopher Plummer replaced Spacey in the role of J. Paul Getty and has already been nominated for a Golden Globe.
The Christmas projections are a little higher than we got yesterday, meaning more folks went to the movies yesterday than anticipated. That’s good news all around, and it also meant that The Last Jedi’s second-weekend drop was slightly less awful than presumed. To wit, The Last Jedi dropped “just” 67% on its second weekend, earning $72 million for a $368m ten-day total. That’s still a $148m drop from its $220m debut weekend, a record for such a thing.
But it should still cross $400 million late tonight, on its 11th-day of release. Relatively speaking, if The Force Awakens played like Phantom Menace in terms of legs, then The Last Jedi is playing like Attack of the Clones. It’s still looking like a $600m+ domestic grosser by the end, and it’ll be over/under $800m worldwide tonight. So yeah, it fell harder than hoped, and the holiday scheduling, the family-friendly competition and the mixed word-of-mouth among fans means that the Walt Disney sequel may have to settle for most of the money instead of all the money.
The big newbie news, and the rest of this post is just for new releases, was Columbia and Sony’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The $90 million-budgeted sequel to the popular 1995 Robin Williams fantasy parlayed strong reviews and a kid-friendly cast (Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan) and a strong inversion of the original film’s premise (this time, our heroes go into the game, a video game no less) into a whopping $67m Wed-Mon debut weekend (a dynamite 9.3x six-day multiplier), including $36m over the Fri-Sun launch. It should have over/under $70m by tonight, thanks to $1.9m worth of sneak preview grosses.