Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

August 3, 2009

It could be bigger.

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Nobody's laughing

Kim Hollis: Funny People, the new Judd Apatow film starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, opened to $22.7 million. Should Universal be pleased with this result?

Josh Spiegel: No, I don't think so. On the one hand, Funny People wasn't nearly as high-budget as Universal's biggest flop this year, Land of the Lost, but I bet they were hoping this movie would open with at least $30 million, based on how Judd Apatow's previous directorial efforts panned out, and Adam Sandler being the lead. With Funny People, the end success will depend on how many people spread the good word (or if the good word is spread at all).

Tim Briody: There is some high comedy in the wire articles today from Nikki Rocco. The Reuters article quotes her as saying Funny People opened "exactly where we thought it would be" and the AP article has her comparing it to Tom Cruise's turn in Collateral. You cannot make this stuff up. It didn't do so badly where someone's getting fired (under $20 million was the threshold for that) but I expect a big, big leash, at least budget wise, on the next couple Judd Apatow projects.


Kim Hollis: Tim, I have to think this is correct, yet over the weekend they made a point of releasing the big announcement that they've signed him for three additional films. I completely agree that the film is a disappointment - the combined power of Sandler and Apatow should have meant something - but I guess there is a modicum of truth to the fact that they're minimally satisfied if they're touting the new deal with the director.

David Mumpower: I'm going to use some numbers here to make my point. In 2005, The 40 Year-Old Virgin opened to a total that inflation-adjusts to $23.5 million. At the time, few people knew who its director, Judd Apatow, or its star, Steve Carell, were. Apatow's next film, Knocked Up, opened to a total that inflation-adjusts to $32.2 million despite the fact that Seth Rogen was a complete unknown at the time. Effectively, the first film opened well because it looked funny and there was a $9 million bump for the next title due to built up trust in Apatow and an even funnier, more commercial film. Given how well received each of those titles were, Apatow's third project should be massive rather than having the lowest total ticket sales on opening weekend. And that's not even factoring in the Adam Sandler aspect. In fact, Rogen did just as well with Pineapple Express when he had James Franco as his counterpart as he did here with Sandler anchoring the film. Funny People is an opening weekend disappointment, no matter how Universal tries to spin it. The even worse news is that beyond opening weekend, I do not see this title having the juice to reach $80 million, much less $100 million. It has a production budget on a scale with the combined production costs of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Pineapple Express combined, yet has failed in its first three days and doesn't show any upside from here.

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