Weekend Box Office (May 9 - 11, 2014)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND 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 $49M over the weekend from 3,279 locations for a powerful $14,954 average, according to final studio figures. 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 $84M 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 61% to $35.5M. That put Sony's cume at $146.2M after ten days of release plus Thursday night previews which is 12% 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 $210M 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 America: 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 $550M. $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 only 33% in its third weekend to $9.6M raising the sum to a solid $62.1M. Faith-based hit Heaven Is For Real kept bringing in the business in its fourth lap with $7.5M, down a slender 13%, putting Sony at $75.7M to date. Reaching $100M is now a possibility.

April sequels followed. Disney's Captain America: The Winter Soldier eased only 26% to $5.8M vaulting its domestic haul to an impressive $245.1M. With $450.6M from overseas markets, the Avenger raised its worldwide cume to a robust $696M. Toon Rio 2 fell 35% to $5M for $113.1M overall for Fox.

Two smaller new releases debuted to modest results. The PG-rated comedy Moms' Night Out bowed to $4.3M from only 1,044 locations for a lukewarm $4,129 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 a $3.7M opening weekend but its average was much worse at a dull $1,410 thanks to an aggressive release in 2,658 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 $1.7M, off a mere 20%, for a $145.1M total and over $254M collected worldwide. Relativity's action film Brick Mansions dropped 56% to $1.6M for a $18.5M 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. The Fox Searchlight hit has banked $53.8M to date and may end its domestic run near the $60M mark.

The top ten films grossed $123.8M which was down 18% from last year when Iron Man 3 stayed at number one with $72.5M; and down 22% from 2012 when The Avengers remained on top with $103.1M.

Compared to projections, Neighbors soared past my $35M forecast while Moms' Night Out and Legends of Oz both opened close to my respective predictions of $3M and $4M.

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Watch the NEW trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

For a NEW review of Neighbors visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Godzilla and Million Dollar Arm both open.

# Title May 9 - 11 May 2 - 4 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Neighbors $ 49,033,915 3,279 1 $ 14,954 $ 49,033,915 Universal
2 The Amazing Spider-Man 2 35,501,212 91,608,337 -61.2 4,324 2 8,210 146,201,934 Sony
3 The Other Woman 9,605,781 14,407,264 -33.3 3,306 3 2,906 62,085,824 Fox
4 Heaven Is For Real 7,482,618 8,601,509 -13.0 3,048 4 2,455 75,702,657 Sony
5 Captain America: The Winter Soldier 5,750,593 7,774,269 -26.0 2,701 6 2,129 245,128,338 Disney
6 Rio 2 5,028,838 7,711,952 -34.8 2,973 5 1,692 113,069,082 Fox
7 Moms' Night Out 4,311,083 1,044 1 4,129 4,311,083 Sony
8 Legends of Oz 3,747,780 2,658 1 1,410 3,715,931 Clarius
9 Divergent 1,743,676 2,182,283 -20.1 1,233 8 1,414 145,067,595 Lionsgate
10 Brick Mansions 1,643,574 3,691,672 -55.5 1,954 3 841 18,491,392 Relativity
11 The Grand Budapest Hotel 1,545,746 1,777,513 -13.0 770 10 2,007 53,826,874 Fox Searchlight
12 God's Not Dead 1,422,119 1,765,906 -19.5 1,000 8 1,422 57,684,935 Freestyle
13 Bears 1,041,724 1,710,162 -39.1 1,243 4 838 16,052,768 Disney
14 Draft Day 849,939 1,382,280 -38.5 820 5 1,037 27,764,730 Lionsgate
15 Fading Gigolo 734,679 482,847 52.2 340 4 2,161 2,029,122 Millenium
16 The Quiet Ones 719,214 1,994,670 -63.9 1,133 3 635 7,995,603 Lionsgate
17 Noah 502,108 900,538 -44.2 477 7 1,053 99,877,650 Paramount
18 The LEGO Movie 488,384 228,911 113.4 401 14 1,218 253,666,490 Warner Bros.
19 Belle 487,109 106,578 357.0 45 2 10,825 634,210 Fox Searchlight
20 The Railway Man 437,644 502,556 -12.9 181 5 2,418 2,260,440 Weinstein Co.
Top 5 $ 107,374,119 $ 130,103,331 -17.5
Top 10 123,849,070 141,515,375 -12.5
Top 20 132,077,736 150,310,946 -12.1
Top 20 vs. 2013 132,077,736 155,322,304 -15.0

Last Updated: May 13, 2014 at 4:55PM ET

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