Executives at Universal Pictures may be breaking out the red plastic cups.
The studio's R-rated comedy "Neighbors" far exceeded industry expectations at the domestic box office this weekend, debuting with $51.1 million, according to an estimate from Universal. Heading into the weekend, prerelease audience surveys indicated the flick starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron would be in a tight race for No. 1 with "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." Both films had been projected to gross roughly $40 million apiece.
Instead, the superhero sequel saw its ticket sales tumble 59% to $37.2 million in its second weekend in release. After 10 days in theaters, the film has grossed $147.9 million -- lagging behind the first film in Marc Webb's Spidey franchise, which had collected $165.9 million at this point in 2012.
"Neighbors" marks another win for Rogen following last summer's hit "This is the End," an apocalypse comedy he co-wrote, co-directed and starred in that collected just over $100 million. He served as a producer on "Neighbors," in which he plays a dad who moves in next door to a riotous frat house with his wife (Rose Byrne) and newborn.
The film's strong opening also bodes well for Efron, who has had a tough year in the public eye due to a struggle with substance abuse. Though he has been a teen pinup favorite since his breakout role in the "High School Musical" series, the 26-year-old has had trouble proving himself as a legitimate box office draw. "Neighbors" is by far his best opening ever -- not counting the animated film "The Lorax," in which he voiced a character -- and a huge improvement over the January film he produced and starred in, "That Awkward Moment," which grossed a total of only $26 million.
Most critics were kind to "Neighbors," as the film has notched a 74% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Those who saw the picture this weekend gave it an average grade of B, according to market research firm CinemaScore. The film appealed to a broad audience, as male and female moviegoers came out in nearly equal measure: 53% of the crowd was female, the same percentage that was over the age of 25.