It did not take a super-villain with complex abilities to take down the sensational web-slinger known as Spider-Man. All it took was a low-budgeted comedy starring Seth Rogen, whose new movie Neighbors soundly trounced The Amazing Spider-Man at the weekend box office. Neighbors took home an estimated $51 million at the weekend box office, coming in at No. 1. Meanwhile, The Amazing Spider-Man, in its second weekend out, took in only $37 million.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s second weekend was not the worst case scenario, but the sharp drop is representative of the box office fatigue the superhero franchise has been suffering from at the domestic box office. The estimated 59.4% drop for comic book superhero film this weekend is the largest second weekend drop the franchise has experienced since Spider-Man 3 in 2007. Luckily for Spider-Man, overseas numbers continue to run strong, while domestic numbers are not as impressive as they have been for the franchise in year’s past. At the foreign box office, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has pulled in over $400 million, bringing the sequel’s grand total to $550.9 million worldwide.
Neighbors appeared to be just what the doctor ordered, setting the pace for comedic releases in the summer movie-going season, and defeating The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at the weekend box office. The $51 million Neighbors took in for its first frame marks the best opening weekend for a live-action comedy starring Seth Rogen. The same for director Nicholas Stoller, who had previously found success with comedies such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek, but was coming off a junior slump with The Five-Year Engagement. Neighbors was a quick, fun and irreverent viewing experience and drew fairly strong reviews for this type of comedy. The movie is currently sitting on a 74% “Certified Fresh” rating at Rotten Tomatoes. In comparison, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has a “Rotten” rating at 54%. Neighbors was also released for a fairly modest budget of $18 million, meaning the film will be highly profitable even before it’s released on home video.
The potentially troubling issue for Sony Pictures with the declining box office numbers for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and the franchise as a whole is that the reported production budget for the new movie is said to be around $255 million, according to Deadline Hollywood. Based on current projections, the movie will only finish with about $225-235 million domestically at most, which would be less than The Amazing Spider-Man. In 2012, the last Spider-Man movie grossed $262 million domestically.
Sony has hopes of launching spin-off films based around the Spider-Man character, including Sinister Six, Venom and possibly even Black Cat later down the line. The numbers suggest a growing fatigue toward the character and movies among moviegoers, unlike the considerable growth experienced by the Marvel Studios releases from Disney, such as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Thor: The Dark World, and Iron Man 3. All three sequels grossed considerably more money than their predecessors, especially after The Avengers. It seems Sony wants to get on The Avengers bandwagon. However, audiences do not appear to be as enthusiastic toward The Amazing Spider-Man movie franchise as they were toward the previous trilogy directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire.
Overall, Neighbors did an impressive take this in grounding The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at the weekend box office. The summer movie season is now officially underway with Neighbors unseating a franchise like Spider-Man, demonstrating that the competition is heating up. And the competition is about to get a lot more atomic with the highly anticipated, long-awaited return of the King of the Monsters, Godzilla, next weekend.
By Jeffrey Harris