Box Office Barometer 5-16-11

In her weekly box office analysis, Nikki Finke states how incredulous she is that Bridesmaids made more than $15 million.  Her reasoning is that the first trailer is “laugh-challenged,” it had “TV stars,” and it’s release was “middling.”  However, the latter descriptions describe a low-risk/high-potential movie.  It’s male counterpart, The Hangover, was in a similar scenario.  Director Todd Phillips took a lower salary in order to take a percentage of the gross, because Warner Bros. had such little faith in it.  But, the premise was simple and funny, and the cast was filled with good comedians (Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Ken Jeong).  With Bridesmaids, it had veteran producer Judd Apatow anchoring the film.  Yes, they cast TV stars, but they are funny TV stars.  Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are/were great on SNL, Ellie Kemper is keeping The Office fresh, and Wendi McLendon-Covey killed it on Reno 911!  In the absence of star power, Bridesmaids developed a hell of an ensemble cast.

In terms of “overachieving,” it’s doing the same business as previous Apatow movies. 40-Year-Old Virgin made $21 million with “Brick from Anchorman,” and a strong ensemble cast of Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, Elizabeth Banks, and Jane Lynch.  The only people with strong movie credentials at the time were Keener and Lynch, and Lynch was more of a role player. Knocked Up ($30 million opening weekend) came from the director of the 40-Year-Old Virgin, but featured bit player Seth Rogen and TV star Katherine Heigl.  That’s how these things work: talented people and strong premises are destined to breakthrough eventually.

With Bridesmaids scoring $24.4 million, Black Swan recently hitting $300 million worldwide, and the slew of female-driven TV pilots, hopefully the industry won’t look as diversely singular as this year’s Oscars.


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