Weekend Box Office: ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ Gave Adam Sandler His Biggest Hit In A Decade

Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Kevin James at Sony Hotel Transylvania 2 party
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Just when it looked like audiences were finally starting to reject Adam Sandler, following relative disappointments with Pixels and Blended, his new film broke the September box office opening record and gave Sandler his biggest hit in 10 years. That would be Hotel Transylvania 2, produced by Sandler’s Happy Madison, with Sandler voicing the lead, which grossed an estimated $47.5 million and easily took the number one spot this weekend.

It narrowly missed being Sandler’s biggest opening of all time, which was The Longest Yard‘s $47.6 million in 2005 (adjusted for inflation, The Waterboy and Big Daddy blow them out of the water). It beat the 2012 opening of the first Hotel Transylvania by $5 million (the previous September record holder) and received the same A- Cinemascore. That one went on to make $358 million worldwide.

“It’s on its way to being one of the most beloved franchises of all time,” said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of worldwide distribution. [Variety]

Haha, okay, settle down, bro. Critics were, naturally, a little cooler on it, giving it a 54% recommended rating.

News was also pretty good for the other wide release of the weekend, The Intern, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, which earned $18.2 million on a $35 million budget. That’s standard for a Nancy Meyers movie, landing it in between It’s Complicated ($22 million) and Something’s Gotta Give ($16 million), which went on to gross $85 and $124 million domestically, respectively.

Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno opened in 1,540 theaters, utilizing a somewhat unique distribution strategy:

Using a variety of metrics the release depended largely on digital marketing and theaters that were “historically frequented by die-hard horror fans”. [BoxOfficeMojo]

The hope was to find a middle ground between straight to on-demand releases and wide, 3,000 screen debuts. [Variety]

The idea was to create a smarter release strategy to hit a specific audience, and not just “splatter dollars everywhere,” in Roth’s words. Distributor BH Tilt had said in an email last week that a $4-5 million weekend would be considered successful. They almost hit their mark, with a $3.49 million opening.

Someone trying to rethink the old release models is long overdue. (But if they spend less on marketing, where will studios hide their profits??) Yet with Green Inferno getting a C- Cinemascore (the downside of targeting a more savvy audience?) and 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, they may have had an uphill battle with this one. I saw Green Inferno at last year’s Fantastic Fest and didn’t like it much, but Eli Roth’s post-screening Q & A was probably the most interesting film Q&A I’ve been to. If they could figure out how to include an Eli Roth speaking engagement into the screenings, I bet lots of people would pay more than $12 for a ticket. I would, and I wear sweatpants to work.

Everest and Sicario both earned well in limited releases, with Sicario (which is pretty great) going wider this weekend.

So, who was the big loser this weekend? That honor probably goes to Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall, which opened at 129 locations and earned a dismal $871 per theater. I thought it wasn’t terrible, if an odd and probably offensive attempt at combining two competing storylines. Of course, the presumed target audience seemed to hate it the most, which is never a winning strategy.

It’s hard to know what this failure means. It’s tempting to note that Stonewall received by far Roland Emmerich’s smallest release, and wonder if that was simply because it dealt with gay themes? But you can’t really root for a movie that invents a fictional white dude and has him throw the first brick either. Did they have to do that to get it made at all, and did that poison its chances? And does the fact that a compromised version of a gay-themed movie failed mean that studios will be even more hesitant to greenlight other gay-themed movies in the future? Hopefully the takeaway here will just be that this one movie wasn’t very good, but you can see why progress on getting more representative movies is hard to come by.

For complete resultsvisit BoxOfficeMojo.com.

Vince Mancini is a writer and comedian living in San Francisco. A graduate of Columbia’s non-fiction MFA program, his work has appeared on FilmDrunk, the UPROXX network, the Portland Mercury, the East Bay Express, and all over his mom’s refrigerator. Fan FilmDrunk on Facebook, find the latest movie reviews here.