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'Pitch Perfect' hits a high note with audiences, at the box office

By Joseph O'Leary
On October 1, 2012

This weekend, though you may not have noticed, a little movie called "Pitch Perfect" reached sixth place on the box office charts with $5.2 million dollars. Not too impressive, you say? It was only released in 335 theaters, a tenth of how wide other films on the top ten have been released, and according to, it averaged more than $15,000 per location. The movie will expand this weekend nationwide, and it will certainly ride a wave of fresh buzz to a very profitable sophomore showing.
It was a unique release for a unique film. "Pitch Perfect," a new musical comedy, is hilarious and irreverent, a twisted take on the usual "zero-to-hero" college underdog stories so common in cinema.
Anna Kendrick is the star of the film, playing a freshman at Barton, a fictional New Jersey college. She gets swept into a misfit a cappella group in her first weeks, joining the Barton Bellas as they try to win a national championship with a trip to the finals to New York City. She's joined by many young actors, including Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp and Adam Devine, in an offbeat comedy romp that spans puke explosions and drive-by burrito throwings, and jokes about everything from meth to the "It Gets Better" campaign.
Though the show's similar to Fox's musical show "Glee," Kendrick and Snow said in an interview held Sep. 21 that no one involved had even seen the show. Kay Cannon, a writer for NBC's "30 Rock," had started writing the script in 2006, years before the other show came out.
"The thing that's different is it's different genres of singing," Snow said, as "Glee" doesn't do a cappella songs, only covers of songs. What's more, some of the cast did their performing live on camera. Kendrick said she didn't enjoy recording songs in-studio, so she preferred to sing live as "it seems like there's something at stake."
Snow is a veteran of musicals, having starred in 2007's "Hairspray," but said the two films were very different. As a full musical, the 2007 film was specific in its 1960s setting and varied characters, while "Pitch Perfect" is grounded in reality; all of the songs are justified in a cappella, and characters don't just break into song.
The two actresses have a standout scene early in the film, dueting on David Guetta and Sia's hit song "Titanium" while naked in a dorm room shower. The two said the day started out uncomfortable, and both had reservations; by the end of the day, though, they were caught in a hot environment, which took their mind off the situation and let them act together comfortably.
Producer Elizabeth Banks, who also has a small role in "Pitch Perfect" as an a cappella television commentator, said she and the film's other producers hired Jason Moore as the director based on his work directing the Tony Award-winning musical "Avenue Q," as they "were all about making a great comedy," which "he knows inside and out." Plus, he helped pick out "Titanium" for the soundtrack in 2010, two years before it blew up into a hit.
The college setting was a unique experience, Banks said, as the filmmakers had an opportunity to introduce and discover a lot of young talent, many of whom were on-screen for the first time. Every person who auditioned made it into the film somehow, she added, as it allowed for "authentic college students in a movie about college."
What's more, the setting allowed for a lot of familiarity. "Everyone has a similar experience in college," Moore said. As there are universal moments in everyone's college life, like meeting roommates for the first time, this allowed "Pitch Perfect" to be relatable to the common person, which may be part of the reason why it's seeing box office success. The film opens on Friday nationwide.

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