Raunchy comedy trumped super hero action as North American audiences flooded multiplexes to see the buzzworthy new film Neighbors which captured the number one spot with a thunderous opening shoving last week’s champ The Amazing Spider-Man 2 into second place in only in second weekend.
Universal’s latest R-rated comedy winner debuted with strength grossing an estimated $51.1M over the weekend from 3,279 locations for a powerful $15,575 average. Starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, the well-reviewed laugher about young parents with a baby who battle a fraternity that moves in next door in their quiet neighborhood surged past lofty expectations to generate the second best opening weekend ever for an R-rated comedy not based on a popular brand. Only Universal’s Ted was bigger with a $54.4M debut in June 2012.
Neighbors enjoyed broad appeal which helped to deliver the numbers. Men and women alike were excited and many age groups found the plot intriguing. Plus the two lead actors pull from different segments of the moviegoing audience leading to more business. Rogen’s comedy from last summer – This Is the End – was also outrageous and earned strong reviews, however its all-star cast pretty much pulled from the same fan base. Former teen heartthrob Efron brought a different crowd to the table. Also helping was the fact that studios have done a lousy job this year delivering broad comedies so ticket buyers were eager to go out and experience a laugh riot.
It’s been three years since anything other than an action movie has hit number one in the summer kickoff month of May. That says a lot about how hard it is for a film like Neighbors to hit the top spot. The much-hyped sequel The Hangover Part II did it in late May 2011 with a phenomenal $85.9M debut which still holds the record today for debuts of all R-rated comedies. Studio research showed that the audience was 53% female and 53% over 25.
The CinemaScore was a mediocre B so it will have to be seen what kind of legs it shows. The next major direct competitor will be Seth MacFarlane’s Ted followup A Million Ways to Die in the West opening three weeks later and there is the Memorial Day holiday weekend before that so the road ahead looks bright for Neighbors for the rest of May. Overseas debuts drove in a healthy $34.4M weekend – led by the U.K. and Australia – for a global tally of $85.5M very early on in the run.
Bumped down to the runner-up position after just one week with the crown was the super hero tentpole sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 which fell a sharp 59% to an estimated $37.2M. That put Sony’s cume at $147.9M after ten days of release plus Thursday night previews which is 11% below the same point in the run of 2012’s Spidey reboot. The decline was in the same ballpark as Marvel’s other summer kickoff sequels like Iron Man 2 (59% in 2010), Iron Man 3 (58% last year) and Spider-Man 3 (62% in 2007).
This is an event sequel featuring one of the most recognizable characters in existence with all the production and marketing dollars in the world at its disposal. It should be attracting a larger crowd than this, especially with a production cost alone of over $200M.
The final take should end in the friendly $210-220M neighborhood making it the lowest-grossing Spider-Man film ever domestically despite having the highest ticket prices. It could end a full $50M shy of the $262M of its predecessor from two years ago and it certainly will not beat Captain Avenger: The Winter Soldier which was more successful at satisfying comic fans recently and will soon crack the quarter-billion mark.
Sony has two more Peter Parker installments already on the calendar for 2016 and 2018 so it needs to find a way to reignite fan excitement for the franchise and deliver a product that pumps up audiences. But as with many action franchises, international markets are making up for shortfalls from North America. The overseas weekend haul of $69.5M boosted the offshore cume to $403M and the global gross to $551M. $750M is still possible.
The Cameron Diaz hit The Other Woman held up well given the intense competition it faced from a new runaway hit comedy entering the marketplace. Fox’s former number one dipped 36% in its third weekend to an estimated $9.3M raising the sum to a solid $61.7M. Faith-based hit Heaven Is For Real kept bringing in the business in its fourth lap with an estimated $7M, down a slender 19%, putting Sony at $75.2M to date. Reaching $100M is now a possibility.
April sequels followed. Disney’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier eased only 28% to an estimated $5.6M vaulting its domestic haul to an impressive $245M. With $450.6M from overseas markets, the Avenger raised its worldwide cume to a robust $695.6M. Toon Rio 2 fell 34% to an estimated $5.1M for $113.2M overall for Fox.
Two smaller new releases debuted to modest results. The PG-rated comedy Moms’ Night Out bowed to an estimated $4.2M from only 1,044 locations for a lukewarm $4,023 average. Outreach to the faith-based crowd helped the Sony release to attract a respectable audience despite the moderate number of theaters, but the grosses were not at the same level as for this year’s many hit dramas which targeted Christian moviegoers. Reviews were poor.
The animated film Legends of Oz brought in similar sales with an estimated $3.7M opening weekend but its average was much worse at a dull $1,421 thanks to an aggressive release in 2,607 sites. New distributor Clarius saw terrible reviews and the brand was not strong enough to bring out paying family audiences. The CinemaScore grade was an encouraging A, though.
Divergent clung to the top ten for an eighth weekend with an estimated $1.7M, off a mere 22%, for a $145M total and over $254M collected worldwide. Relativity’s action film Brick Mansions dropped 60% to an estimated $1.5M for a $18.3M cume.
Below the top ten, The Grand Budapest Hotel became Wes Anderson’s highest-grossing film ever as it grossed another $1.5M in its tenth frame, according to estimates. The Fox Searchlight hit has banked $53.7M to date and may end its domestic run near the $60M mark.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $126.3M which was down 16% from last year when Iron Man 3 stayed at number one with $72.5M; and down 21% from 2012 when The Avengers remained on top with $103.1M.