Box Office Report: “Good Boys” Prove R-Rated Comedies Aren’t Dead

Good Boys Box Office The boys of "Good Boys." (Universal Pictures)

The Seth Rogen-produced kiddie-raunch comedy starts strong, in an August that’s been largely underwhelming for the box office.

For the first time in three-and-a-half years, an R-rated comedy topped the domestic box office. The most recent R-rated comedy to achieve that feat was The Boss in April 2016…until Good Boys came along that is. With a $21 million bow, Good Boys beat out expectations to score a much bigger than expected bow, one that was roughly on par with the $21.4 million debut of fellow August Universal R-rated comedy The 40-Year-Old-Virgin

Whereas many R-rated comedies this summer (like Long Shot or Stuber) came up short financially because they looked too derivative of other comedies in their marketing, Good Boys and its promise of foul-mouthed middle-schoolers stood out as a more unique concept conveyed in trailers and TV spots that emphasized a bunch of memorable gags and the positive reviews it had received. That’s the recipe for a financially successful R-rated comedy like Good Boys, whose impressive debut was a sharp turn from the box office blues that plagued every other comedy this summer.

In second place, Hobbs & Shaw fell another 44% to add $14.1 million to its domestic gross of $133.7 million while The Lion King eased another 41% for a fifth-weekend haul of $11.9 million and a domestic gross of $496.1 million. Hobbs & Shaw appears on track for a $170-175 million domestic finish while Lion King will end its domestic run with about $530-540 million.

The Angry Birds Movie 2 proved to be the newest animated sequel in 2019 to come in under expectations thanks to its meager $10.5 million debut.  That’s a massive 73% plunge from the opening weekend of the first Angry Birds Movie and the six-day gross of Angry Birds Movie 2 (which opened on a Tuesday) is at only $16.2 million, barely ahead of what the first Angry Birds movie grossed on its second day of release alone. Among computer-animated movie opening weekends, it’s an anemic debut just below what Sherlock Gnomes

Though the first Angry Birds Movie arrived with a decent opening weekend, it proved to be far more frontloaded than typical animated family movies thanks to mixed audience word-of-mouth. Moviegoers just weren’t hankering for more of these fowl characters and the marketing for it kept emphasizing a barrage of celebrity voice-over performers rather than any kind of plot details that could entice people to give the series another try. 

Last weekend’s top release, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, fell 52% this frame — not a bad hold for a horror title. Grossing another $10 million, Scary Stories now has a domestic gross just over $40 million. It doesn’t look likely that this one will beat out the $63.9 million gross of Last Vegas to become the biggest CBS Films title ever domestically but don’t count it out just yet, especially if it holds well over the Labor Day weekend frame.

Audiences turned out in solid numbers for the original 47 Meters Down two summers ago, but its sequel, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, bowed to only $9 million this weekend, down about 20% from the original 47 Meters Down’s $11.2 million bow. With a marketing campaign that emphasized no returning characters from the original film, Uncaged came off like a knock-off of the original 47 Meters Down rather than a proper continuation which kept it from besting the original. 

On the other hand, the appeal of sharks chomping down on people helped it hold better than some other sequels this summer, and it only cost a measly $12 million to make. If it can manage to hold on until the three-day Labor Day holiday weekend in two weekends time, it might be able to crack $30 million domestically which would make it a decent win for struggling studio Entertainment Studios.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold fell 51% to add $8.5 million to its domestic total that now stands at $34 million after ten days of release. Dora appears to be on track for a domestic total just under or over $55 million, not good for a project that cost $49 million to make. On the other hand, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood had a great fourth-weekend decline of just 35%, giving it another $7.4 million and a domestic total of $115.1 million. Looks like this one’s headed for final domestic total between $130 and $135 million, the second-biggest domestic haul ever for a Quentin Tarantino movie

Continuing a string of poor box office performances for Sundance 2019 darlings, Blinded by The Light opened to $4.4 million. Honestly, that’s not a terrible bow for a movie not based on hugely popular source material (yes, it’s got the Springsteen songs, but even the one it uses for its title isn’t as synonymous with Springsteen as Yesterday was for The Beatles) and devoid of big-name actors. Really, this is a movie that probably needed a limited release approach like The Farewell rather than having Warner Bros./New Line Cinema just plop it into 2,307 locations in the middle of August with zero fanfare. 

Given the positive word-of-mouth and reviews surrounding it as well as the lack of major new releases over the next two weekends, it’s likely Blinded by The Light holds better than most 2019 releases opening to under $5 million despite being released in over 2,000 locations, I could totally see it getting past $15 million domestically. That’d be a fine total for a small-scale indie feature like this one that WB/New Line Cinema puzzlingly tried to cram into an ill-suited release format.

Let’s take a brief detour to holdovers as The Art of Racing in the Rain rounded out the top ten with the best hold of all the holdovers in their second weekend of release as it dropped 46% to add $4.4 million to a domestic total of just $16.8 million to date. 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Just outside the top ten, that’s where. Coming in at eleventh place, Bernadette grossed only $3.4 million this weekend, the third-worst 2019 debut for a movie opening in over 2,000 locations. It’s no secret why this one saw its box office chances go up in smoke, Bernadette was saddled with one of the worst movie marketing campaigns of 2019, complete with three separate trailers that each carried a different tone and TV spots that were more awkward looking than enticing. 

Spider-Man: Far from Home dropped 47% this frame to add $2.7 million to its domestic gross which as now amassed $376.6 million while its worldwide cume has now sprinted past $1.110 billion to become the biggest Sony/Columbia movie ever worldwide. 

The Kitchen fell a harsh 60% this frame for a second-weekend gross of only $2.2 million for a dismal domestic gross of just $10.3 million. The Farewell dipped a tiny 28% this weekend for a sixth-weekend gross of $1.5 million from 861 locations for a per-theater average of $1,744 and a domestic gross of $12.8 million. Looks like The Farewell could become only the second limited release of 2019 to crack $20 million. 

Toy Story 4 had its harshest weekend-to-weekend drop in about two months with a 52% decline this frame, though it still took in another $2.1 million for a fantastic domestic haul of $424.4 million. Mission Mangal opened to $1.35 million from 263 locations for a per-theater average of $4,962. We now come to the last of last weekend’s new releases, Brian Banks, which had a steep 68% plunge from last weekend, giving it a second-weekend haul of $683,137 and a domestic gross of just $3.7 million.

The Peanut Butter Falcon grossed $294,000 this frame from 49 locations for a very promising $6,000 second-weekend per-theater average. Such figures bring its domestic gross up to $589,825 and bode very well for the wide release Roadside Attractions has planned for the title this Friday. On the other hand, Luce seems to already be slowing down to a worrying degree as it grossed just $163,965 this weekend from 58 locations for a per-theater average of $2,827 and a domestic total of $530,402. 

After the Wedding grossed $86,957 from 26 locations for a meager second-weekend per-theater average of $3,345 and a domestic total of only $159,378. Honeyland continued its slow rollout by expanding to 32 locations for a fourth-weekend gross of $56,997 for a per-theater average of $1,781 and a domestic gross of $211,721. In its second weekend of release, One Child Nation grossed $49,569 from 19 locations for a per-theater average of $2,609 and a domestic gross of $79,368.

The Nightingale expanded into 39 locations this frame but only took in $45,409, a 21% drop from last weekend, for a per-theater average of $1,164 and a domestic gross of $184,257. Moving onto limited newcomers, Aquarela grossed $23,474 from 5 locations for a per-theater average of $4,695 while End of the Century opened to $10,398 from a single location.

The top 12 movies this weekend grossed a total of $107.7 million, down 8% from this same weekend last year when Crazy Rich Asians began its excellent domestic box office run. This was actually one of the weaker 33rd weekends in recent years despite Good Boys overperforming. Weaker holdovers like Dora and Art of Racing in the Rain and underperforming newbies like Angry Birds Movie 2 and 47 Meters Down: Uncaged are why this weekend came up so short compared to past mid-August frames.

August 2019 has now accumulated a monthly gross just north of $550 million. With little in the way of notable newcomers opening in the next two weekends, it looks like this will be one of the weakest Augusts of the 2010s.

Why hasn’t August 2019 been stronger? Well, Hobbs & Shaw is the only big tentpole release of the month and it ended up doing solid but not extraordinary domestic business, certainly not enough extraordinary enough to compensate for the lack of other big tentpoles in August 2019. Sleeper hits like Scary Stories and Good Boys are a sign that August 2019’s box office woes are less a sign of people refusing to go to the movies and more of a sign of how what’s dominating the marketplace just isn’t piquing the interest of moviegoers.

Past Augusts have seen original titles like Signs, District 9 and The Help help send the box office soaring whereas this months more stale franchise titles Angry Birds Movie 2 and Uncaged can’t hope to match that kind of innovation-driven box office (notice how the two big sleeper hits of the month are non-sequels).

Liked it? Take a second to support The Spool on Patreon!