When “The Hangover Part III” opened with half as many ticket sales as its predecessor in May, it was clear American moviegoers had tired of the Wolf Pack.
But there was hope yet for Warner Bros. In the two years between the second and third “Hangover,” the international marketplace expanded -- and the second installment had performed especially well for a R-rated comedy overseas.
“If you look at the third movies of comedy trilogies -- ‘Rush Hour,’ ‘Meet the Parents,’ ‘Austin Powers’ -- honest to God, those movies tend to drop in their third film. They lose 20% of their audience,” director Todd Phillips told The Times at CinemaCon in April. “The thing about ‘The Hangover’ that differs from those movies is that we have a monstrous international audience.”
There’s just one little problem with that hypothesis: Per international returns released by Warner Bros. on Sunday, it doesn’t look like the third “Hangover” will exceed the second one’s $332.3-million take abroad. So far, “Part III” has grossed $201.8 million overseas and is currently playing in 56 foreign markets. With only a few major countries left to open, including Mexico and Japan, it doesn’t seem likely that the third film will reach even $300 million.
Things are even worse domestically, where the new film’s total gross in the U.S. and Canada will trail that of “Part II” by closer to 50% than 20%. The 2011 film, starring Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms, ultimately collected $254.5 million stateside, while the 2013 version has grossed $108 million since its Memorial Day weekend release.
Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures spent $103 million to produce “Part III,” up from $72 million for the second film.
Phillips has said the third film would be the last in the comedy franchise -- likely a smart move, given box office receipts. Even despite the results, though, the filmmaker insists he’s not fretting about his future Hollywood prospects.
“Filmmakers -- believe it or not -- make movies because they actually have a [expletive] great time making movies and, like, hanging out with their friends,” Phillips said in April, a touch of sarcasm in his voice. “I think I’ll be OK, honest to God. No offense. It’s not like if this movie doesn’t work I’m done making movies for the rest of my life."