Features and Columns · Movies

‘Good Boys’ Box Office: A Rare Success for an Original Comedy

The R-rated preteen swear fest is only the second original title to hit number one this year.
Good Boys
Universal Pictures
By  · Published on August 19th, 2019

After 33 weekends, 2019 finally saw another original movie top the box office over the weekend. Good Boys, which sold about 2.3 million tickets since Thursday evening, came in first place in its debut, knocking fellow Universal release Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw off the throne. The R-rated comedy is only the second title not based on any pre-existing material or tied to any ongoing franchise to achieve the honor. Another Universal movie, Jordan Peele’s Us, was the first original movie to reach the top spot, doing so back in March.

Good Boys isn’t as fresh a movie as Us. Produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, it’s kind of an aged-down, less-memorable remake of their 2007 movie Superbad, which drew a better 4.8 million people in its debut (in exactly the same weekend).  And there was already a Superbad-esque movie out this year: Booksmart. That one, put out by United Artists in May, sold fewer than a million tickets. What made Good Boys more appealing than Booksmart? The gender of its main characters? That’d be a shame, especially since Good Boys does no good for girls as characters whatsoever, despite respectful intentions towards women as a concept.

The combination of horror movie and comedy marking the two original champions is consistent with last year’s successes, only 2019’s titles arrived earlier. In 2018, John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place topped the chart in April and then the Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School came in at number one for week #39. In 2017, Peele’s debut, Get Out, was followed by three more originals, The Hitman’s Bodyguard and Pixar’s Coco, both of which spent three weeks at number one, plus the horror film Happy Death Day. The Hitman’s Bodyguard, like Good Boys, was a rare summer hit for an original movie.

Universal can celebrate the double duty of original hits, especially as it maintains a certain reputation. One of last year’s, Date Night, and two of 2017’s, Get Out and Happy Death Day, were from the same studio. No other in Hollywood can compete with the market share of Disney this year, but Universal is a decent runner-up, mostly thanks to Us and the animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, plus the surprising sleeper success of another one of its original titles, Yesterday. Good Boys might not have similar legs, though, as it only earned a B+ grade from audiences via Cinemascore. Still, that number one — the studio’s 10th weekend in first place this year — has to feel good after Universal had to drop another of its 2019 originals, The Hunt, from the schedule.

We could argue that the weekend was weak for options overall, and that’s how a random comedy did the near-impossible, but in the game of release strategies, The Angry Birds Movie 2 was surely the expected winner for its opening weekend in competition against the smaller wide launchers, which included Good Boys, the sequel 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, and adaptations Blinded By the Light and Where’d You Go, Bernadette. But the animated video game adaptation fell way short of its initial forecast figures, according to Box Office Pro’s long-range tracking, as did all other titles save for Good Boys.

Looking at where all the movies fell on the chart, it’s kind of sad to see Richard Linklater’s Bernadette do so poorly compared to early predictions. Selling fewer than half a million tickets, the negatively received Cate Blanchett starrer gave the auteur his worst wide-release debut — bombing bigger than The Newton Boys. Before Sunrise and Dazed and Confused nearly drew as many people in their debuts in only a few hundred theaters. Boyhood and Before Midnight did slightly less when they went wider, though their expansions were still on just a fraction of the number of screens Bernadette dove onto.

The Angry Birds Movie sequel, which opened Tuesday, wound up doing only about a quarter of the business its predecessor did in its first weekend three years ago. It fell short of even last week’s prediction by Box Office Pro, indicating that the phenomenon of that property is dying. The 47 Meters Down follow-up was also down from the 2017 original and below expectations. Blinded By the Light, which is the best-reviewed of the newcomers, wasn’t going to do much anyway, yet even that Bruce Springsteen-inspired Sundance favorite landed with a smaller audience than Warner Bros. hoped for.

In other box office news, the gay romance End of the Century had the best per-theater average, grossing $10K on just one screen, while the documentary Jay Myself continued its limited success with another strong average in its third weekend. Fellow doc and new release Aquarela, a theatrical essential especially if you can catch it in its intended higher frame rate, and another new foreign film, Mission Mangal, rounded out the top five for averages along with Good Boys. The top-grossing doc, though, was again the all-women sailing team film Maiden, which became the eighth doc release of 2019 to pass the $2 million mark.

One more notable bit of interesting box office trivia for this weekend is it’s the first time since Captain Marvel‘s release in mid-March that there’s been no superhero movie (no, Hobbs & Shaw doesn’t count) in the top 10. And the last time that was the case, we only had two straight weeks of superhero absence (Glass does count). Looking ahead, there are no superhero movies due in theaters through the rest of 2019 either, excluding Joker unless there’s a surprise Batman appearance there.

Here are the weekend’s top 12 domestic release titles by the estimated number of tickets sold with new and newly wide titles (and still-limited titles) in bold and totals in parentheses:

1. Good Boys – 2.38 million (2.3 million)
2. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – 1.6 million (14.8 million)
3. The Lion King – 1.3 million (55.1 million)
4. The Angry Birds Movie 2 – 1.2 million (1.8 million)
5. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – 1.1 million (4.5 million)
6. 47 Meters Down: Uncaged – 0.999 million (1 million)
7. Dora and the Lost City of Gold – 0.943 million (3.8 million)
8. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood – 0.844 million (12.7 million)
9. Blinded By the Light – 0.494 million (0.5 million)
10. The Art of Racing in the Rain – 0.489 million (1.9 million)
11. Where’d You Go, Bernadette – 0.384 million (0.4 million)
12. Spider-Man: Far From Home – 0.306 million (41.8 million)

All non-forecast box office figures via Box Office Mojo.

Related Topics: , , , , ,

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.