With the success of Superbad and Knocked Up, the return of the R-rated comedy will inevitably be heralded in Hollywood and the media as it was with Wedding Crashers and American Pie among other pictures. However, a comedy is bound to be a hit if it looks funny and relatable to its target audience regardless of the Motion Picture Association of America's rating—movies, genres and talent have fans, not "R," "PG-13," etc. An "R" rating can only garnish an already appealing ribald comedy with the promise of a frank or taboo approach.
What's more, Superbad and Knocked Up's makers haven't tackled especially unusual material. Their themes and storylines have been broad, particularly aimed at teens and young adults, and cast through their own raunchy, pop-cultured, nerdy frat-boy sensibility. In the case of Superbad, the marketing depicted best friends on the eve of separating and stereotypical pursuits for girls and alcohol.
Meanwhile, audiences avoided The Invasion. Originally scheduled for release a year ago, Warner Bros.' reportedly $80 million sci-fi horror emerged with $6 million at 2,776 sites, a comparable start to the similarly-themed The Astronaut's Wife from August 1999 and The Puppet Masters.
The Invasion is a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers but that branding was minimized. The trailer ends with the words "You won't feel a thing," indicative of how the marketing sapped the thrills and fun from the B-movie premise, which has a mixed past commercially anyway. Adjusted for ticket price inflation, the 1978 version made the equivalent of over $70 million today, but Body Snatchers, barely distributed by Warner Bros. in 1994, equaled less than one percent of that.
Also opening wide, The Last Legion was the latest medieval-themed picture to fail, pulling a paltry $2.7 million at 2,002 locations. With few exceptions, the Middle Ages is an era that moviegoers largely ignore theatrically, and Legion's quiet distribution after being batted around the release schedule didn't help.
Among holdovers, Rush Hour 3 tumbled 57 percent to $21.4 million for $87.7 million in ten days. By comparison, Rush Hour 2 was down 51 percent in its second weekend to $33.1 million and had accumulated $133.5 million. The Bourne Ultimatum had a slightly better third weekend drop than The Bourne Supremacy and pulled further ahead gross-wise, having earned $40 million more through the same point.
Becoming Jane persuaded few in its expansion. Nearly doubling its theater count to 1,186, the period romance rose only one percent to $2.9 million. On the other hand, Hairspray again had the best hold among non-expanding wide releases, off 30 percent to $4.5 million and crossing the $100 million mark in the process.
• 6/4/07 - 'Pirates' Sinks, 'Knocked Up' Scores
• 8/21/06 - 'Snakes' All Hiss and No Bite (Same Weekend, 2006)
• 8/22/05 - 'Virgin,' 'Red Eye' Fly High for Rising Actors (Same Weekend, 2005)
• Weekend Box Office Results
• All Time August Openings
• R-rated Youth Comedies
• Horror Remakes
• Medieval Movies
NOTE: This report was originally written on Sunday, Aug. 19 and was revised on Monday, Aug. 20 with actual grosses.