It was supposed to be a second straight win for Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man 2 before everyone’s favorite wall-crawler had to face off against some real competition from Godzilla next weekend, but the R-rated comedy Neighbors surpassed all expectations as it took the weekend box office crown easily with an estimated $51.1 million.  Webb’s ASM 2 fell pretty hard, dropping 59% in its sophomore session, but still managed to earn an estimated $37.2 million.  With the two other new films, the faith-based comedy Mom’s Night Out and the animated Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, both tanking, there was no chance to avoid another big drop (15.1%) from the same weekend last year when Iron Man 3 topped the charts for the second straight weekend.
The R-rated Neighbors stars Seth Rogen, Zac Effron, and Rose Byrne in the raunchy saga of a young family whose life is disrupted when a rowdy fraternity buys the house next door.  Like a number of comedies due out this year, Neighbors deals with "thirtysomethings" forced to come to grips with the need to grow up a little bit even as the pull of anarchic youth remains strong.  Almost no one was predicting a debut north of $50 million for Neighbors, which posted the second best opening ever for an original R-rated comedy, trailing just Seth MacFarlane’s Ted ($54 million). 
Neighbors attracted an audience that was 53% female and 53% over 25 and nearly 60% Caucasian, so yes, it hit ASM 2 right in the demographics.  A shirtless Zac Effron, who was featured in previews and ads, plus the non-threatening good time-stoner demeanor of Seth Rogen may have accounted for the higher-than-normal percentage of females in the crowd. 
Neighbors received generally good reviews.  It has a current tomatometer reading of 74% positive on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.  In the past hit R-rated comedies like The Hangover have demonstrated great "legs," and Neighbors could do the same, though the opening weekend audience gave the film only a mediocre "B" CinemaScore, which could put word-of-mouth in some danger.  But the biggest danger to Neighbors’ box office longevity could come from another Universal R-rated comedy, Seth McFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West, which opens in just 3 weeks.
Neighbors was produced for just $18 million, and in addition to the $51.1 million it earned here, it also brought in $34.4 million from 29 foreign markets where it is being released as Bad Neighbors (it was #1 in 17 of those including the UK, Australia, and Germany). 

Weekend Box Office (Studio Estimates): May 9-11, 2014



Weekend Gross




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The Amazing Spider-Man 2







The Other Woman







Heaven is for Real







Captain America: The Winter Soldier







Rio 2







Moms' Night Out







Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return














Brick Mansions






Meanwhile Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 performed at the lower edge of expectations during its second weekend at the domestic box office.  ASM 2’s 59% sophomore decline is actually not bad for a big action tentpole, but it is still more than the drops of Captain America: Winter Soldier (56%), Thor 2 (57%), and Iron Man 3 (58%, though since IM3 scored a $174 million bow, the film’s 58% drop is really quite extraordinary).  At this point in its run ASM 2 is already $10 million behind the pace of Winter Soldier and the Spidey sequel faces stiff competition in coming weeks from Godzilla and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
ASM 2 continues to do very well overseas, where it did top the global box office chart by adding $69.5 million and bringing its total outside North America to $403 million.  Even if ASM 2 fails to match the domestic total of its predecessor, it will more than likely make up the difference overseas.
Neighbors didn’t have much of a negative effect on the female revenge comedy The Other Woman, which dropped just 35.8% as it earned $9.2 million and brought its 17-day total to $61.7 million.  The Christian-themed Heaven Is for Real posted an even smaller decline of 18.6% as it ran its total to over $75 million.  With a cost of just $12 million, Heaven Is for Real is the kind of success story that will "inspire" all sorts of religiously-themed films over the next few years.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier slipped to #5 in its sixth weekend in theaters as it dropped just 27.7% earning $5.6 million and bringing its domestic total to $245 million.  With a global total of $695.6 million, Winter Soldier is poised to pass The Twilight Saga: Eclipse for 63rd place on the all-time list of top-grossing movies (not adjusted for inflation).
While Neighbors flourished, this week’s other two new entries bombed.  Mom’s Night Out, a sort of "stealth" vehicle for traditional religious values, debuted in just over a thousand theaters and earned just $4.2 million.  Given the success of 2014’s other faith-based films like Heaven Is for Real, God’s Not Dead, and the recycled (from TV) Son of God, Mom’s Night Out’s debut has to be seen as disappointing.
But Mom’s Night Out was Avatar when compared with the animated feature Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return, which posted one of the smallest debuts ever ($3.7 million) for a film that opened in more than 2500 theaters.  Bad reviews certainly didn’t help either Mom’s Night Out (just 17% positive) or Legends of Oz (an even worse 14% positive).
Be sure to check back here next week to see how Legendary’s Godzilla, which has been tracking north of $60 million, opens, and if the offbeat sports film Million Dollar Arm starring Jon Hamm, can make an impression on an increasingly crowded box office.