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Superbad Box Office: Michael Cera Sleeper Hit

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Superbad Michael CeraSuperbad with Michael Cera: Late summer domestic box office hit.
  • Superbad box office: Featuring Michael Cera and Jonah Hill, the Judd Apatow-produced, Greg Mottola-directed teen comedy has topped the domestic chart for two weekends in a row – a notable feat for such a modestly budgeted release.
  • In other box office news, Brett Ratner’s critically derided action comedy Rush Hour 3 was the no. 1 movie in the domestic market earlier in August – even while opening far behind its predecessor. Jackie Chan and Chris Trucker are the two leads.

Superbad box office: Judd Apatow-produced teen comedy featuring Michael Cera & Jonah Hill is a late summer sleeper hit

Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

Aug. 24–26 weekend box office: Distributed by Sony Pictures, produced by Judd Apatow, directed by Greg Mottola, and featuring Jonah Hill and Michael Cera, the teen-oriented comedy Superbad was the top movie at the North American (U.S. and Canada only) box office for the second consecutive weekend.

After opening the previous weekend (Aug. 17–19) with a surprisingly strong $33.1 million from 2,948 theaters, Superbad earned another $18 million (down 45 percent) as per final studio figures found at Ten-day cume: $68.6 million – or more than three times its $20 million production budget (as always, not including marketing and distribution expenses).

For comparison’s sake: Superbad had a stronger box office debut than the Judd Apatow-directed comedy Knocked Up ($30.7 million), released last June and featuring a better-known cast (Katherine Heigl, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd). Knocked Up went on to earn $148.8 million domestically and $71.1 million internationally, for a worldwide total of $219.9 million.

Besides Jonah Hill (also seen in Knocked Up) and Michael Cera as two friends trying to get laid before their high school graduation, Superbad features Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bill Hader, Seth Rogen, Emma Stone, and Dave Franco, plus a Danny McBride cameo.

Superbad ultimately not as sturdy as Knocked Up

Update: Greg Mottola’s Superbad ultimately failed to match Knocked Up’s final figures, collecting $121.5 million domestically and a far less impressive $49.3 million internationally. Worldwide total: $170.8 million – surely making Superbad one of the most profitable Hollywood releases of the year.

Its top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($13.4 million) and Spain ($6.1 million).

Mr. Bean should have stayed home

Now, Superbad managed to remain atop the domestic box office chart because this past weekend’s new entries all bombed.

Trailing not only Superbad but also two other holdovers – the Paul Greengrass-Matt Damon hit thriller The Bourne Ultimatum ($12.5 million) and the Brett Ratner-Jackie Chan-Chris Tucker hit action comedy Rush Hour 3 (an estimated $12.3 million)[1] – Universal’s Mr. Bean’s Holiday (shades of Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday) debuted with a mere $10.1 million from 1,714 venues.

That’s about 15 percent less (leaving aside inflation) than the $12.8 million its predecessor, Mr. Bean, scored on its first weekend in wide release back in 1997.

In the cast: Rowan Atkinson as Mr. Bean, Emma de Caunes, Antoine de Caunes, Willem Dafoe, Jean Rochefort, Steve Pemberton, and Preston Nyman. Steve Bendelack directed.

The Nanny Diaries Scarlett Johansson Chris EvansThe Nanny Diaries with Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans: Good-looking stars failed to appeal to domestic moviegoers in this critically panned dramatic comedy.

War & The Nanny Diaries bomb

At no. 5, Lionsgate’s actioner War opened with a measly $10 million from 2,277 sites. In the cast: Jason Statham as an avenging FBI agent and Jet Li as an unscrupulous Yakuza (and former CIA) assassin. Philip G. Atwell directed.

Bear in mind that Statham and Li had previously paired up six years ago in James Wong’s sci-fi actioner The One, which, after debuting with $19.1 million, went on to collect $43.9 million in the domestic market. Expect War, which cost a reported $25 million, to earn about half that figure. (Update: War ultimately collected $22.5 million in the U.S. and Canada.)

An even bigger bomb was the no. 6 movie, Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s poorly received comedy-drama The Nanny Diaries. Starring Scarlett Johansson as the (initially misidentified) titular character, Chris Evans, Laura Linney, and Paul Giamatti, this Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/The Weinstein Company release took in $7.5 million from 2,629 sites, thus averaging a paltry $2,845 per site (vs. War’s $4,312).

More domestic box office duds: Stardust, The Invasion & The Last Legion

Three other box office flops worth mentioning:

At no. 8, Matthew Vaughn’s romantic fantasy adventure Stardust added $3.9 million from 2,339 locations. Cume: $26.4 million. Paramount’s $70 million release stars Claire Danes, two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro (The Godfather: Part II, 1974; Raging Bull, 1980), and three-time nominee Michelle Pfeiffer (The Fabulous Baker Boys, 1989; etc.).

At no. 10, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s troubled sci-fi horror thriller The Invasion added $3.1 million from 2,776 sites. Cume: $11.5 million. A would-be remake of Don Siegel’s 1956 horror classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Warner Bros.’ $80 million release is on its way to becoming one of the year’s biggest commercial disasters. In the cast: Oscar winner Nicole Kidman (The Hours, 2002), Daniel Craig, and Jeremy Northam.

At no. 22, Doug Lefler’s The Last Legion added a meager $901,000 from 1,935 locations. Cume: $5 million. In the cast of this Weinstein Company release set in the early medieval period: Colin Firth, Oscar winner Ben Kingsley (Gandhi, 1982), and Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai.

Rush Hour 3 Jackie Chan Chris TuckerRush Hour 3 with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker: Domestic audiences flocked to theaters showing this widely derided mega-budget buddy comedy – even so, that wasn’t quite enough to make Rush Hour 3 a profitable hit.

Superbad Box Office: Michael Cera Sleeper Hit” notes

Widely panned buddy comedy Rush Hour 3 a global hit – and a global disappointment

[1] New Line Cinema’s Brett Ratner-directed dismally received Rush Hour 3, which reunited the director with leads Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker, was the no. 1 domestic title over the Aug. 10–12 weekend, grossing a remarkable (estimated) $50.2 million.

For comparison’s sake: Despite its wider-than-wide release at 3,778 sites, the $140 million Paris-set threequel didn’t even get close to the $67.5 million opening of its 2001 predecessor, Rush Hour 2, which went on to collect $226.2 million domestically and $121.1 million internationally. Worldwide total: $347.3 million.

Revolving around the dastardly deeds of the Chinese mafia in the French capital, Rush Hour 3 also features Hiroyuki Sanada, Yvan Attal, Youki Kudoh, Noémie Lenoir, Julie Depardieu, and – however mind-bogglingly – Ingmar Bergman fave and Best Actor Oscar nominee Max von Sydow (Pelle the Conqueror, 1988). Plus cameos by the likes of Best Director Oscar winner Roman Polanski (The Pianist, 2002), Philip Baker Hall, and Dana Ivey.

Update: Brett Ratner’s Rush Hour 3 ultimately collected $140.1 million domestically and $118 million internationally. Worldwide total: $258.1 million.

That was an impressive sum, but a) far below Rush Hour 2’s global take and b) far from enough for the action comedy to break even at the box office. In fact, this (relatively speaking) less-than-stellar cume helps to explain why there hasn’t been a Rush Hour 4.

Rush Hour 3’s top international markets were the United Kingdom/Ireland ($21.2 million), Germany ($11.6 million), Australia ($9.1 million), Japan ($8.1 million), and France (where part of the action is set, with $7.2 million).

Unless otherwise noted, “Superbad Box Office: Michael Cera Sleeper Hit” box office information via Box Office Mojo. Budget info – which should be taken with a grain of salt – via BOM and/or other sources (e.g., the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Screen Daily, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety,, etc.).

Comments about Superbad, Rush Hour 3, Mr. Bean’s Holiday, War, The Nanny Diaries, Stardust, The Invasion, The Last Legion, and other titles being hits/profitable or flops/money-losers at the box office (see paragraph below) are based on the available data about their production budget, additional marketing and distribution expenses (as a general rule of thumb, around 50 percent of the production cost), and worldwide gross (as a general rule of thumb when it comes to the Hollywood studios, around 50–55 percent of the domestic gross and 40 percent of the international gross goes to the distributing/producing companies).

Bear in mind that data regarding rebates, domestic/international sales/pre-sales, and other credits and/or contractual details that help to alleviate/split production costs and apportion revenues are oftentimes unavailable, and that reported international grosses may be incomplete (i.e., not every territory is fully – or even partially – accounted for).

Also bear in mind that ancillary revenues (domestic/global television rights, home video sales, streaming, merchandising, etc.) can represent anywhere between 40–70 percent of a movie’s total take. However, these revenues and their apportionment are only infrequently made public.

Michael Cera Superbad movie image: Columbia Pictures | Sony Pictures.

Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans The Nanny Diaries movie image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer | The Weinstein Company.

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker Rush Hour 3 movie image: New Line Cinema.

Superbad Box Office: Michael Cera Sleeper Hit” last updated in October 2023.

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