Weekend BO Report: ‘Night School’ Gets An A With The Biggest Comedy Opening Of The Year

Written by Dapo Olowu

It may not have hit the $30m heights we expected, but the $27.3m earned by ‘Night School’ in its freshman weekend still put it comfortably atop of the Box Office class, and confirmed its place as the U.S.’s biggest comedy opening of 2018.

Who said comedies were dead?

In a year where we’ve had to rely on rom-com ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ to provide the genre’s biggest opening at $26.5m, Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish proved that creating an original comedy isn’t just possible, but profitable. The Malcolm D. Lee flick, Universal’s Studios’ second consecutive number one, received a respectable A- on Cinemascore, right in-line with other Hart films such as ‘Think Like a Man Too’, which opened to $29.2m and finished on a solid $65.2m in 2014.

It also marks co-lead Haddish’s second biggest opening of all time, and her second $20m+ opening after appearing in just 6 films.

A lack of direct competition in coming weeks gives ‘Night School’ some breathing space as we enter the tail-end of the year, and coupled with the opening weekend’s audience nearly hitting all four major quadrants (even gender splits and 59% being over-25), the legs on this film could definitely stretch. ‘Johnny English 3’s the next real test, and that comes into play at the end of October. Daylight, it seems, is on the horizon for ‘Night School’.

From marvellous to just ‘meh’, Warner Bros’ ‘Smallfoot’ stomped in at number 2 with $23m – again just under our forecast. It’s not a bad opening, but isn’t really a great one either for a film with an $80m budget. Just like ‘Storks’ from 2016 and recent PG films, it’s child-friendly nature and decent critical reception should be enough for the film to leg it out, although it faces heavy competition from ‘Goosebumps 2’ next Friday.

Its international footprint was similarly unremarkable. It made $14m from 49 countries, bettering ‘Night School’s $5.5m from 14, for a worldwide total thus far of $38.5m. Still, it’s domestic weekend gross was enough to almost double that of ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls’, whose $12.6m leaves last weekend’s winner just $6m away from hitting the $50m domestic mark.

Gregory Plotkin’s slasher ‘Hell Fest’ may not have frightened the Box Office, but Lionsgate won’t be complaining, as a $5.1m start off of a similar budget is decent business. The C on Cinemascore, 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, and the fact that 40% of its gross so far was made on the opening Friday alone means that, on the other hand, it’ll be incredibly front-loaded, but with horror films like this potentially better-suited for Blu-ray and digital releases, ‘Hell Fest’, unlike its viewers, won’t be losing any sleep.

The weekend’s final wide release, drama ‘Little Women’, opened to almost half of our expectations, bringing in a paltry $705k from just 643 cinemas across the United States. The seventh adaptation of the ‘Little Women’ book at least ends this report on a high note – it marks studio Pinnacle Peak’s biggest ever opening for a film. Sure, it’s also the only film they’ve ever released, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?

So ‘Night School’ becomes the biggest comedy opening of the year, but where does it go from here? Could it realistically hit $75m? Also, do any other comedies coming out between now and December realistically challenge its crown?

Let me know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

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