LOS ANGELES - There weren't as many fireworks at the Memorial Day weekend box office this year, as newcomer Tomorrowland disappointed with a US$32.2 million (S$43.2 million) debut in North America.
The science-fiction adventure stars George Clooney and was directed by Brad Bird of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol renown. The Disney release is expected to pull in a lacklustre US$40.7 million for the four-day period.
That's still good enough for a first-place finish, with Universal's Pitch Perfect 2 coming in a close second with an estimated US$30.3 million three-day haul and a projected US$37.9 million for the four days. The a cappella comedy's domestic total stands at US$125.4 million.
Tomorrowland had been expected to generate US$40 million over the three-day period and US$50 million over the four-day stretch. With a US$180 million price tag, Disney faces an uphill climb to profitability. Not helping matters, overseas figures were an underwhelming US$26.7 million.
Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis predicted that the film would pick up steam as schools let out, noting it is the only PG-rated release for this month.
"The trade-off when you're taking a bit of a chance on a new piece of (intellectual property) is that... it takes audiences a little longer to find a film," he said.
Tomorrowland appears to have been hit by middling reviews and an overly secretive marketing campaign that left too many plot details under wraps.
Mr Hollis said consumers initially seemed to respond to marketing materials that teased the film's plot elements while keeping plot information close to the chest, but the studio would comb over exit data to see if the strategy had backfired.
The weekend's other new wide release, Poltergeist, pulled in US$23 million for the three days and will make roughly US$27.7 million for its first four days.
Warner Bros' Mad Max: Fury Road had a solid hold, adding US$23.8 million in its second weekend and pushing its domestic total to US$87.3 million. It is expected to do approximately US$30 million worth of business over the four-day weekend.