Neighbors: Box Office Tracking
Neighbors poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published May 8, 2014
Theater bookings are better than they were for Knocked Up and Superbad, and with inflation those weekend figures would be $36.8 and 39.6 million today.
Is there a chance Neighbors could near or hit $15 million on its opening day? Tracking for the comedy is at a surprisingly high $40 million for the weekend and Iím starting to think I may have low-balled it when I thought $10 - 12 million would be absolute tops for Fridayís gross. I donít know what the marketing campaign looks like outside my own city but one thing I cannot avoid when navigating the streets of Los Angeles are bus-stop posters or large banner billboards for the movie. Back in February I thought Neighbors was going to perform pretty much in line with inflated Road Trip/Old School box office numbers but as the release date kept approaching I was seeing one after another of advertisements for the comedy to the extent that itís at least double what I saw for those. On its opening day in May of 2000, Road Trip grossed $5.4 million in 2,530 theaters for a nice $2,138 per-screen average, and three years later Old School topped it slightly with $6.2 million from 2,689 theaters.

One big thing Neighbors has over those two frat-boy comedies is very solid reviews, which is unusual because many critics tend to be snobs. College and young adult audiences donít always listen to the critics because there tends to be a gap of disagreement in their tastes especially when material dips into poor comic taste or leans towards the heavily juvenile. Critic screenings tend to be serious and pretentious and getting them to laugh at immature humor is usually pretty hard. Mature adult audiences are usually the big demographic who take reviews very seriously because they donít often see movies and snobby critics will tell them whatís worth their time/money and what isnít. College and young adult audiences are usually much more lenient and usually have more time on their hands and donít mind giving something a chance, whereas the elders need convincing. Neighbors has been garnering good reviews from the younger and the older alike, which is very impressive, and various critics have pointed out that it doesnít matter how old you are with this one.

With Road Trip and Old School, you needed a college attitude to find them amusing, and if you were well beyond that frame of mind you were going to dismiss them as too immature. Itís going to sound stupid to say, but Neighbors is actually more mature than those movies even though it has plenty of material to please the gross-out audience. The movie isnít just about a frat-house breaking the rules of suburbia; itís also about growing up. The two main characters are at a point in their lives when theyíre expected to wise up and become responsible new parents in their thirties, right when a ton of immature prank-loving frat-boys move in next-door and start living the life that these two parents wish they could still be living at their age. It may not sound mature on surface value but one of the big themes is the conflict that comes with getting older. The other theme comes from two frat guys who must come to terms with graduating from college and moving on from a phase of life when all they wanted to do was get high and party all the time. The movie is about the two different sets of lives butting heads with each other and ultimately learning to mature and change a little.

The brilliant part from a marketing perspective is that it can appeal to fun-loving college crowds who just want to be loud and obnoxious, as well as responsible home-owners/parents who wonder what it would be like to have an insane frat-house move in next door. Most homeowner parents position themselves far away from college campuses and frat houses to avoid any potential disturbances, and this comedy is a nightmarish fantasy about two very responsible people in suburbia clashing with overwhelming irresponsibility. Thereís more than one demographic in the appeal because college students will identify with the need to have fun, and adults will identify with the need for peace and the presence of a baby.

I would say thereís not a big difference between its platform and the one behind The Hangover because there are probably plenty of homeowners who have their share of horror stories about surrounding neighbors and people who donít or once didnít follow the rules of living in a safe environment. The Hangover exploded at the box office because it connected with younger people who love to party, as well as older demographics who remembered their younger years when they used to get too drunk/blacked out and were forced to put the pieces together of what just happened. The Hangover also received surprisingly good reviews and was a similarly proud-to-be in-poor-taste comedy. The Hangover proved you didnít need big stars to open big as long as you had a concept that was universally identifiable. Neighbors doesnít have a story as easily-accessible as the one behind Hangover because weíre not in Las Vegas in this storyís world, but the peace and quiet of suburbia being disrupted is not bad at all.

The advertising has been very clear about being ďfrom the guys who brought you This Is the End,Ē which turned in $20.7 million in 3-days and $33.0 million in 5, but that comedy was a harder sell because the story took place in Hollywood and only had Hollywood on its mind in its appeal. It did very well in Los Angeles and New York, where moviegoers speak the language of Hollywood, but it did not do so great in average locations where insider jokes on movies are not the way to start conversations. This Is the End was also very well reviewed but movies relying on insider-humor donít play very well across the board because not everybody has that distinct mentality and attitude about the business. The more insider something is, the more of a turnoff it is to people who donít follow Hollywood. Because Neighbors isnít insider, with the exception of a bunch of pop-culture references (the difference being that casual moviegoers will actually understand these), its chances of broad success are bigger.

Months ago, I thought Neighbors was going to be clinging for dear life for solid theater auditoriums because of the potentially monstrous presence of Spider-Man 2 next door, and what Iíve been surprised by are the quantity of theaters in Los Angeles that have carved out a very strong level of room for this comedy. And because Spider-Man didnít open as monstrously as some may have expected, Neighbors has even stolen an auditorium or two from its placements which makes me wonder if Neighbors has a shot at beating it this weekend. At local theaters, Neighbors has at least twice the booking space that This Is the End had last year. Theater bookings are better than they were for Knocked Up and Superbad, which debuted with $30.7 million and $33.1 million, and with inflation those weekend figures would be $36.8 and 39.6 million today.

This is presuming that these bigger auditoriums will actually be filled which isnít guaranteed, but if the demand wasnít there, the management would still be giving these rooms to Spider-Man. Spider-Man 2 disappointed at the box office as well as in audience receptions, and there may be quite a few people looking for a sure-thing at the movies which wonít leave them going home bitter. Neighbors isnít likely to have a huge opening weekend but hitting $40 million or slightly more is looking rather realistic. The Hangover debuted with $45.0 million in June at a time when good R-rated comedies were in dire demand, and Neighbors is arriving as the first rowdy R-rated comedy of the summer after a comic draught. If it does open to $35 - 45 million, itís going to be Seth Rogenís biggest debut yet, and because the movie is indeed a crowd-pleaser, it could blow right past my initial total prediction of $100 Ė 125 million. In that case, Bridesmaids and Knocked Upís domestic totals could be challenged, and the figure to beat after that, if it goes that far, would be the $209.2 million take of Wedding Crashers.

Neighbors wouldnít exist without the influence of Animal House, which grossed $141.6 million in 1978, which this could beat. But ticket prices in 1978 were very cheap and its adjusted total today would be $499.2 million. Neighbors is not Animal House in quality but there will be quite a few young people who see Neighbors who havenít even seen that classic and wonít be aware of the obvious homage. Animal House struck a chord with every age quadrant in 1978, something that Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, Wedding Crashers, and The Hangover all achieved, though not to the same epic extent as it. Neighbors has a chance at winning various quadrants but itís not going to take over the world like Animal House.
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'Neighbors' Articles
  • Craig's Neighbors review C+
    May 12, 2014    This movie is a lazy, crude-for-the-sake-of-crude bore that does nothing for either actor. -- Craig Younkin
  • Box Office Outlook: Neighbors
    April 8, 2014    Iím expecting very good legs and I suspect its total is going to land in between $100 and $125 million. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Lee's Neighbors review B-
    February 8, 2014    I was impressed by its competent tone and direction and I found the movie pretty entertaining and funny at times. -- Lee Tistaert