The general consensus is that Mad Max: Fury Road (Warner Bros. 5.15) will earn $40 million or so during the first weekend. When I read this my first thought was “that’s all?” George Miller‘s $150 million apocalyptic actioner is generating heat through advance word-of-mouth, knockout trailers and high-impact ads, and I was figuring that even the slow boats would be primed by now. But not yet apparently. The last entry in the franchise (Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome) opened 30 years ago, and sometimes the impulse crowd needs a little time to warm up.

Yesterday I hashed things out with‘s Phil Contrino, who concurs with the $40 million-or-slightly-better projection. Right now Fury Road is a bit of “a wild card” in the public mind, he said, but “we’ll learn a lot more once they get a load of it. It could break out like crazy if the word of mouth is as good as what I’m hearing from critics. Nobody is not enthusiastic, but right now people are doing a ‘what’s this?’ and thinking it over. With reboots there’s always the challenge of putting your toe back in the water.

“You have to remember that even Chris Nolan‘s Batman Begins (’05) started modestly. The first weekend brought in only $48 million, which was surprisingly low for a Batman movie. And yet it went on to make $206 million and change. People occasionally need time to figure out that a film is awesome.”