But you can’t just use those numbers to formulate some kind of smash-the-patriarchy narrative, since the movie that Pitch 2 “beat” is about smashing the patriarchy. This isn’t a case of a little movie with a passionate female fan base walloping something like a Transformers installment, which is basically a two-and-a-half-hour mash-up of explosion footage and upskirt videos. Mad Max, to the chagrin of MRAs and similar backwards-thinkers, is (title notwithstanding) the story of a female warrior who rescues a group of sexual violence victims and destroys the man who enslaved them. Even if it had “lost” the weekend by a more embarrassing (or, ultimately, less profitable) margin, that wouldn’t be something to celebrate.
And, by the same token, the scores of men who spent the week cheering Max’s feminist messaging can calm down a bit with the “can’t have nice things” despair over Pitch 2 besting Max domestically. Please note: Pitch Perfect 2 is a film directed by a woman, written by a woman, and in which nearly every important role is played by a woman. However you may land on its quality or appeal, this film’s runaway success is also an undeniably good thing.
But that’s the trouble with how box office match-ups like these are reported — and planned, and marketed. And to be fair, the audience tracking falls roughly along the gender lines these analyses are pushing ( Variety : “The crowd for Mad Max: Fury Road was 70% male, while the opening weekend audience for Pitch Perfect 2 was 75% female”). I’d imagine we’ll see similar pre- and post-game hype on the weekend of June 5, when Spy opens against Entourage, a bout which will be framed as “female movie vs. male movie” but would be more accurately summarized as “movie for everybody vs. movie for douchebags and those who love them.”
Neither Pitch Perfect 2 nor Mad Max: Fury Road “won” this weekend, in terms of beating each other; the winner this weekend, any way you slice it, is the majority of moviegoers who’d like to see a bit less of a gender gap onscreen. And reducing either picture to a simple sexual binary does a disservice to the filmmakers, who both pulled off something that, within the confines of backwards-ass mainstream Hollywood, is truly remarkable.