Neighbors turned the box office into a block party this weekend, stunning Spider-Man to take the top spot at North American theaters.
The Seth Rogen-Zac Efron comedy, which has been retitled Bad Neighbours in Australia, collected $51.1 million, according to studio estimates from box office firm Rentrak.
The debut obliterated expectations, which hovered around $35 million, and was plenty to supplant The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which collected $37.2 million, good for second place.
While analysts anticipated a steep drop from Spider-Man’s No. 1 opening last week, most prognosticators expected the comic-book adaptation to keep the top position for at least one more week.
“What people weren’t expecting was it to be blown out of first place by Neighbors,” says Tim Briody, analyst for Box Office Mojo.
But critics and moviegoers were in the mood for a laugh. About 74 per cent of reviewers recommended the movie, says survey site Rotten Tomatoes. And moviegoers gave it a collective grade of B, say pollsters CinemaScore.
“Neighbors continues a frat house comedy legacy that Universal introduced with National Lampoon’s Animal House,” says Rentrak’s Paul Dergarabedian. “R-rated comedy is a powerful draw.”
Indeed, adult-oriented laughs have been box office gold, Briody says.
“Just last year, The Heat, We’re the Millers, Identity Thief and This is the End were all original and R-rated comedies that earned over $100 million,” Briody says. “Comedies built on star power can still be successful.”
Spidey’s success is a little murkier. Distributor Sony Pictures did not expect a box office challenge until next week’s Godzilla. Still, the $200 million movie will turn a handsome profit, having already collected more than $340 million overseas.
The comedy The Other Woman was third with $9.3 million, followed by the drama Heaven Is for Real with $7 million.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier claimed the fifth spot with $5.6 million
The only other major newcomer, the Sarah Drew comedy Moms’ Night Out, took seventh place with $4.2 million, meeting most of its modest expectations.