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Weekend Box Office: Femme Comedy Bridesmaids Rules New Openers

by Anthony D'Alessandro
May 15, 2011 5:15 AM
4 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood

Proving that a raunchy female comedy can be as potent at the box office as those for males, producer Judd Apatow's Bridesmaids led the field of new openers. Anthony D'Alessandro reports:


A gaggle of satin-pink clad Bridesmaids were powerless against upsetting Thor’s $34.5 million hold at No. 1, but their gross-out shenanigans propelled female moviegoers to shell out $24.4 million this weekend, exceeding the studio's $15-$17 million estimate. Despite much PR fanfare and red band trailers exclaiming that R-rated Bridesmaids is the female Hangover, it didn't reach that level of box office, coming in under that film’s $45 million opening.

Weekend top ten box office chart, review links and trailers are below.

However, B.O. history may repeat itself with Apatow’s Midas touch as Bridesmaids producer. His directorial debut, sleeper The 40-Year Old Virgin , opened at $21.4 million and chugged along to $109.5 million at the domestic B.O. and turned Steve Carrell into a household name. Bridesmaids could pull more audiences on strong word-of-mouth; they gave it a B+ Cinema Score (the same as Apatow’s Knocked Up, which made $149 million). And after strong supporting performances in Paul and Whip It, Kristen Wiig may be the next multi-comedic personality with a future. Ever since the film’s midnight screening at SXSW, critical momentum for Bridesmaids has built from warm to critically hot at 90% fresh. Like Virgin, which cost a thrifty $26 million, Universal also kept its eye on the bottom line with this wedding, which was made for $32.5 million. Relativity Media co-financed.

Similar to the lessons learned on Hangover, what studio execs can take way from Bridesmaids is that audiences truly respond to character-driven content, no matter what stars are attached or how genres are twisted. Two romantic comedies, Something Borrowed and Bridesmaids, bowed within a week apart of each other, but women (at 67%) chose the fresh-faced, raunchy ensemble comedy over the Kate Hudson cookie-cutter. Lastly, Bridesmaids further underscores that the future success of Saturday Night Live players’ big screen success lies in original, cutting-edge concepts, especially when paired with smart creative partners ( i.e. scribe/star Tina Fey and director Mark S. Waters’ Mean Girls, $86 million). Character-sketch vehicles, such as last summer’s bomb MacGruber at $8.5 million ( also starring Wiig) are dead.

Paramount’s Marvel superhero Thor fell 47% in its second sesh. Though not the mightiest second weekend take for a May Marvel tentpole (Spider-Man holds that record with $71.4 million), Thor posted the second-best sophomore hold among the comic book company’s early summer vehicles, filing behind Spider-Man’s -38%.

Mom and Dad were interested in watching their childhood comic-book icon Thor a week ago, but weren’t moved to join their male offspring for Sony-Screen Gems’ Priest which grossed $14.5 million. Ideally Screen Gems looks to start another Resident Evil or Underworld franchise. But Priest’s stateside prospects look dim with a three-day that is under Resident Evil's $17.7 million and Underworld's $21.8 million. Star Paul Bettany, who has been on a Catholic thriller bender since The Da Vinci Code, also saw lower returns than his previous Screen Gems Archangel title Legion which opened to $17.5 million.

The bloody thorns here for the economically-minded genre-meisters at Screen Gems are the numbers: The label spent the same amount of money on Priest, $60 million, as its fourquel Resident Evil: Afterlife, versus the average $25 million amount it typically shells out to launch a brand. Despite Screen Gems’ efforts in plugging away at fanboys at WonderCon and ComicCon, adult men showed up at 57% over 25. Critics sent this film to hell with a 20% rotten score, while audiences gave it a C+ Cinemascore. Priest generated 58% of its B.O. in 3D. Prayers look to be working for Priest abroad where it made $16.7 million, raising its global total to $40.1 million.

Weekend Box Office Chart:

1. Thor (Paramount/Marvel) $34.5 million down 47% in its second weekend at 3,963 theaters. $8,706 theater average. Domestic total: $119.3 million.
2. Bridesmaids (Universal) $24.4 million in its first weekend at 2,918 theaters. $8,365 theater average. Domestic total: $24.4 million.
3. Fast Five (Universal) $19.5 million down 40% in its third weekend at 3,793 theaters. $5,150 theater average. Domestic total: $168.8 million.
4. Priest (Sony/Screen Gems) $14.5 million in its first weekend at 2,864 theaters. $5,063 theater average. Domestic total: $14.5 million.
5. Rio(Fox) $8 million down 6% in its fifth weekend at 2,929 theaters. $2,731 theater average. Domestic total: $125 million.
6. Jumping the Broom (Sony/TriStar) $7.3 million down 52% in its second weekend at 2,035 theaters. $3,587 theater average. Domestic total: $26 million.
7. Something Borrowed (Warner Bros.) $7 million down 50% in its second weekend at 2,904 theaters. $2,410 theater average. Domestic total: $25.6 million.
8. Water for Elephants (Fox) $4.1 million down 32% in its fourth weekend at 2,425 theaters. $1,691 theater average. Domestic total: $48.5 million.
9. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family (Lionsgate) $2.2 million down 47% in its fourth weekend at 1,469 theaters. $1,519 theater average. Domestic total: $50.2 million.
10. Soul Surfer (Sony/Tri-Star) $1.8 million down 22% in its sixth weekend at 1,468 theaters. $1,011 theater average. Domestic total: $39.2 million.

Priest, Screen Gems | Dir: Scott Charles Stewart, Cast: Paul Bettany, Karl Urban, Cam Gigandet, Maggie Q | ThePlaylist.

Bridesmaids, Universal | Dir: Paul Feig, Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey | TOH! Review Round-up | "Hilarious and Heartfelt."

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4 Comments

  • Anthony | May 18, 2011 2:25 AMReply

    Sergio, I actually thought it was going to open bigger -- like $40 million ish. But with all the hot buzz it has, it will be interesting to see how far it goes. Film is on the verge of hitting $30 million today.

  • Sergio | May 16, 2011 2:58 AMReply

    Actually I thought Bridesmaids was going to open bigger than it did. It was what Apatow's best films have - great humor and characters that you really care about. Even without the gross out jokes (which are hysterical) it's still a funny movie. Why can't rom-coms have female characters who are just as interesting instead of the usual, one dimensional, insipid women whose lives revolve around some bland, faceless, uncharismatic hunk?

  • Anthony | May 15, 2011 6:43 AMReply

    Hi Mary,
    B.O. projections change day by day, hour by hour and at one point, the projection for Bridesmaids was $15-$17 million on Thursday. This could have changed by Friday night once they could factor off matinee/East coast shows.

  • mary | May 15, 2011 5:29 AMReply

    According to Nikki Finke, Universal's Adam Fogelson had already expected "Bridesmaids" to gross more than $20 million in the opening weekend... and he is right!

    http://www.deadline.com/2011/05/first-box-office-bridesmaids-looking-to-open-to-20m-weekend-priest-17m/
    [I promised Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson that I would leave Hollywood reporting forever if Bridesmaids did the $20+ million he thought it would.]

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