Weekend Box Office: ‘Neighbors’ Earns $85 Million Worldwide, One Of Biggest R-Rated Comedies Ever

Neighbors opened to $51.1 million in domestic box office over the Mother’s Day weekend, which is so huge that it trails only Ted ($54.4 million) and Sex in the City ($57 million) in terms of openings for non-sequel, R-rated comedies. Worldwide (including England and Australia, where it was called “Bad Neighbours,” perhaps to differentiate it from the Australian sitcom Neighbours), it earned $34.4 million, more than This is the End‘s entire run ($24.6 million). Clearly, your mother loves Zac Efron.

This was the 14th R-rated film to top $50 million on opening weekend, and a bigger debut than any Adam Sandler comedy and two of the three Hangover films. This is a huge win for Universal, as the comedy cost just $18m to produce.

This will be Seth Rogen and Zac Efron’s biggest respective live-action debut weekends, topping the $42m debut of High School Musical 3 and the $33m debut of The Green Hornet. [Forbes]

Almost every box office observer credits the simplicity of concept (“Family vs. Frat”) as a reason for the success. Meanwhile, or perhaps related, people who saw the film didn’t actually like it that much, with it earning a “B” Cinemascore, though I doubt that’ll keep them from making a sequel.

Basically, I see this having outcomes going forward, one good, one not so good. On the one hand, I think studios may have finally realized that an R-rated comedy that goes for it is a better investment than a watered-down, PG-13 one. Neighbors also didn’t feel overly focus grouped (for all its faults), much less than another Universal comedy from a few year back, Wanderlust. Maybe because that one had a much higher budget. If this starts a trend of lower-budgeted, R-rated comedies that studios don’t micromanage too much, that sounds like a good thing to me.

The downside is the Efron angle. Studios definitely don’t need any help trying to re-cast comedy actors with pretty people (a trend as old as time, really) and this certainly isn’t going to help. So the upside is that we’re probably going to see more R-rated comedies, but don’t be surprised if Taylor Lautner and Kellen Lutz land some big parts in them.

The other big story is that Amazing Spider-Man 2 is dropping like a rock, down 59 percent from last week and looking more like Spider-Man 3 (61% drop) and Iron Man 2 than Cap 2 (56% drop). Astute observers have pointed out that each successive Spider-Man movie has earned less than the previous one:

Spider-Man: $403.7 million

Spider-Man 2: $373.6 million

Spider-Man 3: $336.5 million

Amazing Spider-Man: $262 million

That makes for a nice story, for those of us who like to think quality has something to do with it, but it only takes into account domestic numbers. If you include worldwide numbers, Spider-Man 3 is the biggest of the franchise.

Spider-Man: $821.7 million

Spider-Man 2: $783.8 million

Spider-Man 3: $890.9 million

Amazing Spider-Man: $752.2 million

Furreigners love Tobey Mag’s emo bangs, I guess.

Moreover, to assume these numbers are a huge deal to Sony, and that they’re going to rethink their strategy when they notice, ignores the reality that box office isn’t actually that important to them anymore. Studios will only stop attempting this Marvel Universe-style cross media franchise strategy when it starts losing money as a whole, and that’s still a ways away.

Meanwhile, in sort of good news, Hollywood’s unstoppable pandering-to-the-religious strategy took a slight hit this weekend, as the faith-based Moms Night Out earned just $4.2 million. Of course, that could just be due to the fact that middle America didn’t actually realize it was faith-based. It also only cost $5 million to make, because Sean Astin will work for free soda. Don’t expect them to slow down with these any time soon. Gosh, I can’t wait until film studios are milking the same manufactured culture divide as Fox News.

Next week brings us Godzilla and Disney’s Million Dollar Arm, sure to be best movie about Indians playing baseball since Major League.