Universal's "Neighbors," starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron, proved once again how hungry audiences are for laughs at the movies with a $19.6 million Friday night gross (including $2.5 million from the previous night). This is the best one-day figure for a live-action comedy since "Ted" (also Universal) in June 2012, which grossed just over $20 million, for a 3-day total of $54 million. Its initial Cinemascore, however, came in at a B, which rates as just averaged compared to "Ted"'s A-.
Despite this surprisingly large start beyond the high end of expectations, the day was down 10% from the same Friday last year -- $41 million from $46 million -- continuing the reversal of fortune that began last weekend when "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" (Sony), even with a strong $90 million-plus start, came in far below what "Iron Man 3" did last year. The gross for "Neighbors" was almost exactly what "The Great Gatsby" opened to last year (for #2), but "Iron Man 3" grossed even more to retain the #1 slot, about double of "Spider"'s second Friday haul. Even with an over $400 million worldwide success so far, "Spider" is falling short as the table-setter for the summer's grosses. (In fairness, its second Friday drop in percentage was about the same as "Iron Man"'s, although bigger openings usually do fall more because of their front-loaded interest).
Two other new openers drew little interest. The low-budget comedy "Mom's Night Out" (Sony) could manage no better than #6 with $1.25 million, while the independent animated film "Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return" (Clarius Entertainment) fared worse at just under $1 million at #8.
Another comedy, "The Other Woman" (20th Century Fox), at $2.8 million looks to fall less than 40% for its third weekend. #4 "Heaven Is for Real" held even better, with a gross of $1.65 million taking it to almost $70 million so far. "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (Buena Vista) scored about $1.5 million to place #5, with a $241 million likely total. Even if it didn't gross anything more it would still be above where "Spider-Man 2" will end up domestically.
The other slots were filled by "Rio 2" (20th Century-Fox) at #7 ($1.135 million), "Brick Mansions" (Relativity) #9 and "Divergent" (Lionsgate) #10, with the last two around $450,000.
New limited releases were led by Jon Favreau's "Chef" (Open Road) at $53,000 in 6 theaters and Gia Coppola's "Palo Alto" (Tribeca) with about $24,000 in 4.