Universal Music Enterprises has a hit on its hands as the official soundtrack to Universal Pictures’ “Pitch Perfect” rises 16-12 this week on the Billboard 200 with 25,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Released Sept. 25, the set bowed at No. 43 with 9,000 copies. But it’s steadily climbed as the film, which stars Anna Kendrick and Elizabeth Banks and revolves around the world of collegiate a cappella singing competitions, has gone into wide release. The film opened with $5.1 million across 335 theaters and has grossed $36 million to date, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com. Universal co-financed the movie with Gold Circle Films.
The all-a cappella soundtrack compiles a selection of the performances in the film and very closely mirrors the recordings heard in the movie. Cast members the Treblemakers and the Barden Bellas deliver the bulk of the performances on the original soundtrack, which includes a version of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You Been Gone” as sung by Skylar Astin and Roc Nation singer/songwriter Ester Dean, who both appear in the film.
“A lot of times you hear a song in a movie and you go on iTunes and you realize, ‘Oh, I don’t have to buy that soundtrack because the songs are already out there,'” Universal Pictures president of film, music and publishing Mike Knobloch says of the soundtrack’s success. “But these are unique versions of the songs. People really are buying an album of ensemble performances by actors. So I think the fact that the soundtrack is a souvenir of their experience of the film is really a key driver in the [album’s] performance.”
A few tracks were polished or extended, but Knobloch notes that “the majority of what’s on the record are tracks that were taken straight from the film and remixed for the stereo realm and put on the album.”
Although there isn’t a focus track or traditional single, “Cups,” a version of Lulu and the Lampshades’ Internet sensation (itself a cover of J.E. Mainer’s Montaineers’ “Miss Me When I’m Gone”) as performed by Kendrick, has been the surprise breakout hit. Kendrick has even promoted the number on “Late Show With David Letterman,” which helped spur buzz. “She is her own publicity machine when she does that,” Universal Music Enterprises senior VP of film and TV licensing Tom Rowland says. “That’s one of the purely magical moments from the film where she’s onstage doing that [song]. Of all the hits on that thing, ‘Cups’ found its own little life and it’s one of our top single downloads.” “Cups” has sold 21,000 to date, according to SoundScan.
“We’re currenly exploring taking some of the content that we didn’t put on the first soundtrack [and making it] bonus content or a supplemental EP or a deluxe version of the record,” Knobloch adds. “I think when the film comes out on DVD and digitally that we’ll have another opportunity to let people know about the record and to sell it.”