Monday Morning Quarterback

By BOP Staff

August 21, 2007

Colin Firth says Go Arsenal!

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Summer of Seth

Kim Hollis: Superbad opened to an estimated $31.2 million, making it the fifth highest R-rated comedy opening of all-time despite having no star power whatsoever. How did this happen?

David Mumpower: I think that this is the expected range for a movie of this sort in the current box office era. Wedding Crashers, Knocked Up, and Dodgeball all finished in this area. Superbad is more of the same, as it were.

Tim Briody: Pretty simple, really. It looked funny, was marketed properly and had its wagon hitched to the fortune of Knocked Up from the get go. When that was a hit, this was almost assured to be as well. It's the least shocking zero star power $30 million opening ever.

Calvin Trager: It had producer star power. Judd Apatow has become a comedy brand akin to what National Lampoon had going back in the '70s. This will unfortunately lead to Apatow making a terrible Van Wilder prequel/reimagining sometime around 2032. For the time being, though, his credibility is the envy of Hollywood.

Jim Van Nest: I can't say i'm surprised by this at all. The commercials hyped 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up almost as much as Superbad. Show everyone that Seth Rogan is in it and there's your $30 mil. I will say this, though. The popularity of Seth Rogan does give hope to all of us fat ugly guys out there.

Michael Bentley: I'm actually mildly surprised that it didn't do just a little bit better even. It really was marketed very well. Though I have gotten very tired of seeing the McLovin part in the ads. But you're right, Calvin - Apatow is the new National Lampoon. The one key difference is that Apatow has a band of actors that like each other and work well together, and if he can keep that together he's going to be a very rich man.

David Mumpower: I agree with your point about Apatow, but to be fair about its opening, it torched tracking by a full $10 million. So, its opening weekend has to be considered best case scenario for the production team and studio.

Dan Krovich: They also did a lot of advanced screenings of the film so it had great word-of-mouth even before it opened.

Reagen Sulewski: They took a lot of pages out of the playbook of another late-summer R-rated comedy release, There's Something About Mary, with the advance screenings and whatnot. But the important thing is that they delivered. They knew they had something with potential, and got out of the way of the buzz to let it build organically, or at least as much as that's possible.

Max Braden: Although the simplest reason - "It just looks really funny" - can account for a lot of the box office, certainly the pedigree of Knocked Up helped as well. Given the context of the movie, this could have been released in late spring. I don't think it could have bee released then and before Knocked Up and still managed the same opening figures.


Seth Rogen vs. Seth Rogen

Kim Hollis: Which opening weekend is more impressive to you, Knocked Up or Superbad?

Tony Kollath: As Tim suggested in his answer to the first topic, Superbad was attached through review and word-of-mouth to Knocked Up. Knocked Up had to blaze its own trail to a larger extent, so I'd give that film the nod.

Jim Van Nest: Without a doubt, Knocked Up. The only thing Knocked Up had going for it was it was by the same folks that did 40 Year Old Virgin and it starred that guy. You know...the really funny one that kept giving Steve Carell a hard time. He has a beard and stuff. You know him.

Michael Bentley: Knocked Up was more impressive to me because it was more of a "chick flick". Sure it's a more manly chick flick than we're used to, but I have no doubt that the general plot scared away a few young males from seeing it.

Max Braden: I'll say Knocked Up not just because of cast, but because of story. The general plot of Superbad - guys trying to get girls - is pretty standard and commercial, so you can expect regular business for it. The fatherhood theme of Knocked Up just seems to be more indie. Either movie could have been a run-of-the-mill sub-$20 million opener, and did well based on strong trailers and piggybacking off of previous titles, but I think Knocked Up was something riskier and managed to come out strong.

David Mumpower: I'll say Superbad for the same reason Michael used to justify Knocked Up. Whereas the last Apatow movie had demographic appeal to men and women, Superbad was as much of a guy film as has been released since 300. The fact that it had a $2.4 million better opening despite appealing to a much smaller core audience impresses me. If we look at the four R-rated comedies that have done better on opening weekend (American Pie 2, American Wedding, Scary Movie and Wedding Crashers), all of them were much less male-focused than Superbad. This is a strong performance on its own but when placed into that perspective, it's magnificent.

Kim Hollis: I'm with David on this. Knocked Up had more of a built-in female and older audience, whereas Superbad is really more limited as a film for young men. Yes, it was able to ride Knocked Up for a few months, but tracking was certainly not showing any real traction.

Superbad has some magificent art if you stay to the end credits

Kim Hollis: Knocked Up has earned $146.3 million domestically. How close do you think Superbad will get to that amount?

Tim Briody: With a 2.55 weekend multiplier, it was even more front-loaded than I expected in the Friday Box Office Analysis column, whereas Knocked Up was above a 3. While Superbad's got a small head start in terms of weekend opening, that doesn't bode well for its long-term prospects. It's going to get $100 million, no doubt, but I think it peters out around $110 or so.

Michael Bentley: Barring some incredible word-of-mouth that lasts into the start of the school season, Superbad will fall short of Knocked Up. I think Tim's $110 million sounds reasonable.

Dan Krovich: Superbad also has time against it. Where Knocked Up had the entire summer, Superbad is going to be running into Fall. It will still do well in the long run, but not quite as well as Knocked Up. Also, Knocked Up skewed a little older, which generally helps legs.

Max Braden: We have only two more weekends before Labor Day. Fewer people on vacation and the younger crowd concerned about restarting school. I think the box office is going to dry up pretty quickly. I wouldn't be surprised though if Superbad outpaces Knocked Up on DVD.

Kim Hollis: With actual numbers in, it looks like Superbad isn't quite so front-loaded as we would have believed earlier. I think it still will lag behind Knocked Up, but weekday totals should be somewhat telling. Of course, kids here have been back in school for almost two weeks, so it is probably already hard to retain audience, especially college youth.

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