As the old show business saying goes “Dying is easy, and comedy is hard,” and that’s been the case for a number of titles in the genre at the box office this year which have dropped like flies. Take your pick: Rough Night, Baywatch, The House, Fist Fight, the list goes on.
Compare this to last year when four comedies –all released during the summer– held their own including Ghostbusters (it made $128M despite being a financial upset), Central Intelligence ($127.4M), Bad Moms ($113.3M) and Sausage Party ($97M).
But this summer, and this year to date, Universal can relish the fact that they bucked a downward box office trend with their sleeper hit Girls Trip from director Malcolm D. Lee which is crossing $100M at the domestic box office today.
Many say that the female audience is underserved, and again it shows that they’re titillated by raunchy comedies, and that’s why Girls Trip continues to speed along at the summer B.O.
But, wait a second, wasn’t Rough Night a female raunchy pic aimed at women?
Turns out you need more than a dead stripper and a cocaine-fueled bridesmaid party to generate laughs, and that’s heart and well-drawn characters and that’s where Girls Trip delivers. Lee is a brand name among African American audiences, especially when it comes to delivering these solid adult comedies. The pic, which stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett Smith, follows four old college friends who travel to Essence Fest in New Orleans and come away closer then ever before. Girls Trip, which opened on July 21 against Dunkirk, is also Lee’s top opening at the B.O. with $31.2M and his second movie after The Best Man Holiday to earn an A+ CinemaScore. The comedy is also producer Will Packer’s third title to cross $100M after Ride Along and Straight Outta Compton. Another notable accomplishment with Girls Trip‘s success: It’s the first time that an African American female screenwriter, in this case Tracy Oliver, has seen her film gross in excess of $100M at the box office. Oliver co-wrote Girls Trip with Kenya Barris.
Universal insiders say that knew they had something special when at an early test screening, the audience was laughing so hard and continuous, you couldn’t hear all the jokes. Even though we’ve written the obituary for comedy at the summer box office, there couldn’t be a more opportune time for them in a society that’s in need of laughs after all the daunting Trump-era headlines, and Girls Trip is that social catharsis.
Abroad, Girls Trip made $7.4M already in the United Kingdom and could surpass Get Out there which ended its run at $12.7M. The comedy was also No. 1 in South Africa for two weekend in a row with close to a half million. The next markets to release will be Australia and Romania on Aug. 31, with additional markets rolling out through November.