Loud and lewd, the raucous comedy “Neighbors” hardly seemed a natural for Mother's Day weekend.
But it turned out to be an ideal date for the raunchy R-rated romp starring Zac Efron, Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne, which the pulled off summer's first stunner with an opening estimated at $51 million that brought down reigning champ “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” Universal Pictures wasn't talking Monday, but when you take in that kind of money — and another $34 million from overseas — with a movie that cost $18 million, it's safe to say the team there is thinking sequel.
The opening for “Neighbors” — about a young family whose life is turned upside down when a fraternity moves in next door — was about $10 million higher than most analysts had projected. A big reason for that was the gender breakdown: women made up the majority of the audience at 53 percent. That's for a movie rife with a frequently nude Rogen, obscene topiaries, breast-feeding gags, dildo fights and beyond.
The studio's marketers knew the frat vs. family comedy, which has been riding a wave of good buzz for weeks, was going to draw the young male crowd that turned out for “This Is the End,” another R-rated movie starring Rogen that broke out last summer. But could they get the demographic equivalent of the movie's young married couple, the Radners, to show up?
The answer was yes, and more Kellys showed up than Macs.
Universal's distribution chief Nikki Rocco thought the film's well-drawn characters (Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O'Brien are the writers) and touching undertones — the relentless onset of adulthood is eloquently addressed amid the hijinks — had a lot to do with the film playing as well as it did with women.
“This picture has heart,” she said. “And I think that Rose's character and the family aspect, with the baby and the first house, those being things that young couples go through, that really made a difference.”
It also didn't hurt that director Nicholas Stoller lets Byrne's character deliver nearly as many punches and punchlines as the guys reports the Wrap.