"Pitch Perfect 2" hit all the right notes at the box office, snagging first place on the charts with a smashing $70.3 million debut despite fierce competition from "Mad Max: Fury Road."
Universal's a cappella sequel earned more in its first weekend than the $65 million that the original "Pitch Perfect" pulled in during its entire North American theatrical run. The only comparable performance is the way that "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" opened with $54.9 million, more than the $53.9 million that the first spy satire racked up during its domestic engagement.
Like the "Austin Powers" film, "Pitch Perfect" put up big numbers on home entertainment platforms, allowing people to catch up with a movie they may have missed while it was in theaters. That helps explain the surge in interest between the two installments.
"Mad Max: Fury Road" also put up strong numbers, racking up $44.4 million across 3,702 locations. The Warner Bros. release capitalized on rapturous critical notices with some reviewers tossing around words like "genius" and "masterpiece." It has much more ground to make up before it pushes into profitable terrain, however. "Pitch Perfect 2" cost a modest $29 million to produce, while "Mad Max: Fury Road" carries a $150 million price tag.
There was a clear gender divide when it came to the weekend's top two releases. The crowd for "Mad Max: Fury Road" was 70 percent male.
The sequels' strong performances pushed "Avengers: Age of Ultron" from its perch atop box office charts. The Marvel and Disney sequel had to settle for third place and a roughly $39 million finish.
Disclosure: Universal is owned by Comcast, the parent company of CNBC.