Original Seth Rogen comedy “Neighbors” (Universal) easily won the weekend. The race for first place wasn’t even close against the second weekend of “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (Sony). When comic-book movies open strong they usually fall off dramatically.
This weekend doesn’t measure up to last year, when “The Avengers” soared to much bigger numbers, so the overall Top 10 dropped ($126 million against $151 million). In just two short weeks, the year to date total comparison has fallen from over 9% ahead (for the first four months) to just over 6% as we get into the summer. “Neighbors” did better than last year’s “The Great Gatsby,” which lagged $20 million behind “The Avengers.” This weekend saw some solid holdovers, far above average, in the Top 10. But two new releases, “Moms’ Night Out” (Sony) and “Legends of Oz” (Clarius) were duds, delivering less than $5 million.
1. “Neighbors” (Universal) NEW Cinemascore: B; Criticwire: B; Metacritic: 68
$51,100,000 in 3,279 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $15,575; Cumulative: $51,100,000
Universal’s fourth #1 opener of the year–none of them sequels, defying industry norms– “Neighbors” is this year’s “Ted,” an unheralded R-rated comedy original that scores an initial strong gross, with a chance to build and become one of the most profitable films of the year. The budget of only $18 million (before marketing) already positions it for success. Add its international start (an impressive $34 million the first weekend in 29 territories, with many yet to open) and this is set for an impressive run, assuming the word of mouth is better than its mediocre B Cinemascore (comedies can be divisive, but this is below “Ted” and “Bridesmaids” scores).
Impressively, in a non-holiday weekend, this original’s three-day total is just short of the $53.4 million “Hangover 3” managed with a Thursday start over Memorial Day weekend last year (four days through Sunday). And “Ted,” with a prime summer release date, took in $54 million its first three days.
This looks to be a career-booster for its three lead actors, all of whom have had past success. Seth Rogen has been strong in ensemble comedies going back to “40 Year Old Virgin” through his directing debut with partner Evan Goldberg, “This Is the End,” with detours through “The Green Hornet,” “Guilt Trip” and the very fine non-comedy “Take This Waltz.” But never this big with him as the lead. Chameleon Rose Byrne, whose quiet eclectic success has crossed many genres (“Bridesmaids,” the two “Insidious” films, “X-Men: First Class,” “Troy,” and “The Place Beyond the Pines”) –has any current actress scored in so many?- – will now be in even more demand. And Zak Efron, whose career floundered with indie efforts earning more festival than audience attention (“The Paperboy” and “At Any Price” among them), turns out to be a real comedy threat (earlier rom-com “That Awkward Moment” helped to restore his cred).
This “Neighbors” opening is almost three times better than any from director Nick Stoller (“Get Him to the Greek” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” both made it to $17 million). Universal has nurtured him to reach this level of success. Producers Evan Goldberg and James Weaver scored for Sony last year with “This Is the End,” while this is the first produced film script for writers Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien, whose dance cards should be filled for the foreseeable future.
What comes next: Saturday’s gross was only slightly up from Friday’s (with the early Thursday shows excluded), which is less of a jump than normal for a long-term success. Next weekend will give a better sense of how big this will be.
2. “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” (Sony) Week 2; Last weekend #1
$37,200,000 (-59%) in 4,324 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $8,603; Cumulative: $147,900,000
The 59% second weekend drop is in normal range for a Marvel-character film (“Iron Man 3” dropped 58% last year, though from a much higher level). And with worldwide totals already over $400 million, it appears that Sony will squeak into the black this second reboot effort. Comparisons to its 2012 predecessor remain tricky — that film had taken in $200 million through its second Sunday, but that included $75 million already banked before its first weekend (it opened during the week to play on July 4th). The big concern going forward is “Godzilla” and its impact this weekend.
What comes next: The big question is where do they go from here, with further sequels already planned. It could be that, like Warners and D.C. Comics last year with “Man of Steel,” they’ll need to come up with some fresh elements to enhance the franchise.
3. “The Other Woman” (20th Century Fox) Week 3; Last weekend #2
$9,250,000 (-36%) in 3,306 theaters (+48); PSA: $2,798; Cumulative: $61,730,000
An even better hold than last week, this women’s comedy reminds that Melissa McCarthy isn’t the only comedienne movie star with marquee draw. Other actresses–in this case led by Cameron Diaz– can achieve wide audience success in the genre as well.
What comes next: This is also performing well overseas, making this $40 million production a clear success and possible sequel-bait.
4. “Heaven Is for Real” (Sony) Week 4; Last weekend #3
$7,000,000 (-19%) in 3,048 theaters (+118); PSA: $2,297; Cumulative: $75,220,000
While Sony checks its pulse over “Spider-Man,” it has a breakout hit with “Heaven,” holding great and heading to something over $100 million (and looking like a good deal more) on a $12 million production cost. (Three of this week’s top 4 films cost $40 million or less, which is rare).
What comes next: Whatever is achieved in foreign markets will be gravy, but Sony is the best studio at maximizing international results, even if this will be more of a challenge than usual.
5. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (Buena Vista) Week 6; Last weekend #4
$5,619,000 (-28%) in 2,701 theaters (-478); PSA: $2,080; Cumulative: $244,997,000
Approaching $700 million worldwide, the easy #1 for the year so far (and the biggest since “Frozen”) will set a benchmark for upcoming franchise challengers. This small drop at this stage of the run –even with “Spider-Man 2” in release –shows how strong Disney’s Marvel franchise remains. A 28% drop in week 6 (while losing theaters) is impressive.
What comes next: This looks to end up 50% ahead of the domestic and double the total worldwide haul of Paramount’s 2011 release of the first “Captain America” film.
6. “Moms’ Night Out” (Sony) NEW Cinemascore: B+; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 24
$4,200,000 in 1,044 theaters; PSA: $4,023; Cumulative: $4,200,000
Opening in just 1,044 theaters, the PSA is ahead of most Top 10 films. This general audience faith-based film was aimed at a Middle-American market despite its broader comedic appeal (and Mother’s Day), and likely is playing where it would have done most of its business in any case. This low budget comedy comes from Affirm Films & Provident who have together or separately produced “Soul Surfer,” “Courageous” (both Sony) and before that “Facing the Giants” (which Sony handled on DVD).
Patricia Heaton, who committed herself to this production niche some time ago, costars and coproduced. The two directors, Alabama-based brothers Andrew and Jon Erwin, previously made “October Baby” for a similar audience.
What comes next: With a budget of only $5 million and much lower than usual marketing costs, this needs lower than usual numbers ahead to break even. Still, it needs to show some signs of life by next weekend or it will quickly disappear.
7. “Rio 2” (20th Century Fox) Week 5; Last weekend #5
$5,125,000 (-33%) in 2,973 theaters (-341); PSA: $1,724; Cumulative: $113,165,000
This animated sequel is going to get close to the domestic gross of the initial entry and top it worldwide (it should get to over $500 million) as surprisingly within the Fox distribution network their homegrown films are doing better than those they release from Dreamworks Animation.
What comes next: This should easily play through May to help reach maximum grosses.
8. “Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return” (Clarius Entertainment) NEW – Cinemascore: A; Criticwire; D+ Metacritic: 24
$3,705,000 in 2,575 theaters; PSA: $1,439; Cumulative: $3,705,000
Animation is a lucrative but expensive form of filmmaking which, with the high quality expected on all levels by audiences, doesn’t lend itself to independent production. Open Road acquired “The Nut Job” to some success (its biggest gross yet) recently, and Focus released Laika Studios’ “Coraline” and “ParaNorman”). At the other extreme was the “Oogieloves” movie that managed to gross barely $1 million despite playing at over 2,000 theaters. “Legends of Oz” looks to fall much closer to the latter, and with its expense, nearly as disastrous.
With a reported budget of $70 million + marketing expense, this is the work of directors and producers whose cartoon roots go back to lesser known efforts like “Balto,” “Road to Eldorado” and “Everybody’s Hero.” Clarius Entertainment has significant foreign (including Indian) financing, but creatively it is mainstream American (including the story, based on books written by the great-grandson of original “Oz” author L. Frank Baum).
Timed to fill a gap in animated releases (“Rio 3” has been out a month, “How to Train Your Dragon 2” is five weeks out still), this will fall far short of the over $19 million “The Nut Job” opening (on its way to $64 million). The problem (apart from execrable reviews) might be that its appeal is a bit too young without the comic edge that helps many similar releases. However, the A Cinemascore suggests good response from those who came, which gives it hope for staying around for longer than its initial gross would suggest.
What comes next: Summer vacations are already set to start in some areas, which won’t hurt the weekday matinees.
9. “Divergent” (Lionsgate) Week 8; Last weekend #7
$1,700,000 (-22%) in 1,233 theaters (-406); PSA: $1,379; Cumulative: $145,024,000
Holding amazingly well, this gross more than justifies Lionsgate’s long-term commitment to this as an ongoing franchise.
What comes next: More to come worldwide, with a total so far over $250 million.
10. “Brick Mansions” (Relativity) Week 3; Last weekend #6
$1,480,000 (-60%) in 1,954 theaters (-693); PSA: $757; Cumulative: $18,328,000
This brickhouse wasn’t built to last, as this English-language, French-produced urban action remake will need to rely on foreign earnings to make its money back.
What comes next: Relativity, which has been active this year (three films so far, the same as Paramount) comes back on July 4th weekend with the found-footage effort “Earth to Echo.”