Features and Columns · Movies

‘Super Troopers 2’ Had Higher Attendance Than Expected

The power of a perfect release date.
Super Troopers
By  · Published on April 23rd, 2018

The power of a perfect release date.

We need data on the number of people who go to the movies high. At least on April 20th, when the pothead holiday falls on a Friday anyway. CinemaScore needs to add that detail to its polling. Even without such data, though, it appears one new movie benefited from being released on 4/20: the long-awaited sequel Super Troopers 2 managed to open at number one, but just on its first day.

Maybe Broken Lizard just has so many impatient fans that they all had to go see the comedy troupe’s new movie as soon as possible. But more likely, or at least on top of that notion, is the special date. Super Troopers 2 had phenomenally front-loaded attendance Friday, to the tune of around 865,500 people. Yet the movie only placed fourth for the weekend, behind A Quiet PlaceRampage, and fellow newcomer I Feel Pretty.

The difference in tickets sold on Saturday compared to Friday for Super Troopers 2 is one of the biggest drops in history. Even more noteworthy is the percentage of tickets sold on Friday compared to the rest of its opening weekend. Full attendance for the movie over three days (plus Thursday night) was about 1.7 million, meaning its Friday business accounted for more than half its whole debut.

That’s the sort of thing that tends to happen with superfan properties. Movies with greater first-day front-loaded box office include pop star stuff like One Direction: This Is Us and Hannah Montana: The Movie and the franchise finale Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. All of the Twilight movies are close behind. This shouldn’t have been a surprise for Super Troopers 2, which saw its fandom come out strong and fast with its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, which more than doubled its goal back in 2015.

Most of the films with high Friday shares of their box office still open in first place for the weekend, though, especially the superfan-driven releases. Not Super Troopers 2. This is a rare case.  The only recent comparisons that I can find include The Purge: Election Year, which topped the box office on opening night then fell to third place for the weekend, About Last Night, which was number one on Friday then fell to second place with a deep drop over the next couple days, and Magic Mike XXL, which debuted strong on a Wednesday before settling with fourth place over its first weekend.

What’s especially interesting this past weekend is that Super Troopers 2 wasn’t the only movie to move around the top spots. The sequel played musical chairs with the other three box office toppers. A Quiet Place, which wound up winning the weekend with 2.3 million tickets sold, was in second place Friday then first place Saturday but then back to second place Sunday. Rampage, which finished a close runner-up with 2.2 million tickets sold, went from fourth to second to first.

Meanwhile, I Feel Pretty stood firmly at number three all weekend, totaling about 1.7 million tickets sold for a so-so debut. Falling well below Box Office Pro’s long-range predictions and slightly under last week’s forecast, the PG-13-rated movie marks Amy Schumer’s worst opening yet. Her breakout vehicle, Trainwreck, brought in 3.6 million moviegoers its opening weekend in 2015, and last year’s Snatched still managed 2.2 million. Perhaps she’s just more appealing with an R rating, or maybe general interest in her humor is dwindling overall.

Interest in the top two movies of the weekend are, on the other hand, steady. While A Quiet Place didn’t make quite as much money as anticipated in its third weekend, the surprise horror sensation impressively made a return to the top spot while also shooting past Peter Rabbit and Ready Player One to become the second most popular movie of the year so far. Rampage also further proved Dwayne Johnson movies have legs, with the video game adaptation monster movie not dropping too far from its initially disappointing draw last week.

Also worth addressing with the weekend’s box office is Black Panther‘s continued ranking in the top 10. Although at number eight, the Marvel movie saw its lowest placement yet, Black Panther also saw its lowest week-to-week attendance drop. That means fans likely returned to see the superhero flick again, or general audiences finally decided to catch up with it, before Avengers: Infinity War drops next weekend.

Until then, even new movies like the Paula Patton-led thriller Traffik saw better than expected crowds, that one with 429,300 tickets sold. Close behind and also just outside the top 10, the Tollywood action flick Bharat Ane Nenu managed an audience of 310,500 across just 305 screens. The best per-screen average, however, belonged to the well-received Ghost Stories, which drew 1,300 people at a single location.

Still, Super Troopers 2‘s success is the big story, because in spite of its crowdfunding accomplishment (perks for which included tickets via Fandango, though it’s not clear if these are included in the box office figures), the early prediction for the movie was only for about half a million ticket sales in its opening weekend and less than a million sold for its entire run. It more than doubled last week’s forecasted figure and has already overshot its anticipated total domestic take.

Next week should see a very significant drop for Super Troopers 2, however. Not just because of Infinity War but also because it’s already clear that the majority of people interested in seeing it saw it on the first day, many likely doing so after smoking up in the parking lot. With mainly negative reviews and a middling ‘B+’ grade from CinemaScore polling, the movie won’t be seeing much word of mouth advancement.

Here is the weekend’s top 20 titles by number of tickets sold with new titles in bold and totals in parentheses.

1. A Quiet Place – 2.3 million (14.3 million)
2. Rampage – 2.2 million (7.2 million)
3. I Feel Pretty – 1.75 million (1.7 million)
4. Super Troopers 2 – 1.65 million (1.65 million)
5. Truth or Dare – 0.85 million (3.3 million)
6. Ready Player One – 0.81 million (13.7 million)
7. Blockers – 0.74 million (5.2 million)
8. Black Panther – 0.5 million (74.2 million)
9. Traffik – 0.43 million (0.4 million)
10. Isle of Dogs – 0.38 million (2.7 million)
11. Bharat Ane Nenu – 0.31 million (0.3 million)
12. I Can Only Imagine – 0.26 million (8.6 million)
13. Tyler Perry’s Acrimony – 0.21 million (4.5 million)
14. Chappaquiddick – 0.2 million (1.6 million)
15. Sherlock Gnomes – 0.15 million (4.3 million)
16. The Miracle Season – 0.124 million (1 million)
17. Beirut – 0.11 million (0.4 million)
18. A Wrinkle in Time – 0.08 million (10.2 million)
19. Pacific Rim: Uprising – 0.064 million (6.4 million)
20. Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero – 0.063 million (0.02 million)

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

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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.