Neighbors Exterminate Spider-Man 2
By John Hamann
May 11, 2014
It is only the second weekend of the summer box office season, and we already have our first surprise, as the $18 million Seth Rogen and Zac Efron flick Neighbors put the boot to the $235 million The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
After a solid weekend where Sony’s rebooted Spider-Man sequel improved over the original’s opening weekend by $30 million, things are back to normal this weekend, as the web slinger could only match the second weekend of its predecessor. The bigger news, though, is Neighbors, the frat vs family face-off, as it had a bigger opening weekend than films like The Hangover, The Hangover Part III and Bridesmaids. On the softer side of the box office, new films included Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return and (another) faith-based comedy in Mom’s Night Out. Let’s just say that Dorothy didn’t get to the lows of Oogieloves ($443,901 opening from 2,160 screens) but the carnage is similar, as it cost $70 million to make.
Yes, our number one film of the weekend is not The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Instead, it is Neighbors, the new R-rated comedy starring Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Rose Byrne, and directed by Nick Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek). We knew Neighbors was going to do decent business this weekend, as it had a trailer that rocked and all kinds of media coverage. Neighbors earned $2.6 million via Thursday previews and then blew up on Friday, earning an amazing $19.6 million with those Thursday previews included. That means that Neighbors did almost as much on Friday as Seth Rogen’s last film, This Is the End, did over its opening weekend ($20.7 million). This Is the End went on to earn over $100 million at the domestic box office. Neighbors proved to be a date film, a girls night out film, and bro film, and it would appear all segments came out on Friday night.
Over the weekend proper, Neighbors earned an amazing $51.1 million from 3,297 venues, giving it a fantastic venue average of $15,575, and leaving Spider-Man 2 in the dirt. The second weekend in May is proving to be a popular spot, as last year, The Great Gatsby surprised with $50 million as well, and in 2011, it was the weekend that Bridesmaids opened. The debut for Neighbors is Rogen’s best in a live-action comedy, and for Efron, it even beats High School Musical 3, which opened to $42 million in 2008.
Reviews were strong for Neighbors, as Rotten Tomatoes has it at 74% fresh, with 124 reviews out of a possible 168 coming in on the good side. The family vs frat comedy didn’t even wash out on the "top critics" side of Rotten Tomatoes, as that score is currently 74% as well. Somewhat of a surprise was the Cinemascore, which came in at a B, but This is the End scored a B+, which isn’t a world away.
Not only does it help to start the summer off with a bang, but Neighbors was also a good financial decision and another huge win for the folks at Universal, a distributor that is simply white hot right now. Neighbors cost only $18 million to make, a number the comedy had earned after its first day of release. This is not a sentence I get to write very much over the summer months, but Neighbors likely paid for its production cost in real dollars this weekend, and will have the marketing paid for by the end of next weekend. The scheduling for Neighbors was perfect, which went hand in hand with a strong, funny, marketing campaign.