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The combination of popular stand-up comedian Amy Schumer and basketball icon LeBron James provided an unusual one-two punch at the North American box office this weekend.
Trainwreck, the R-rated comedy marking Schumer’s feature film debut, did better than expected in opening to $30.2 million. Schumer stars in and wrote the movie, with Judd Apatow directing. Bill Hader plays the love interest in the raunchy romantic comedy, while James plays himself in a supporting role (it’s likewise his feature film debut).
As expected, the Universal film did its biggest business in New York City and Los Angeles, where Schumer, the Emmy-nominated star of Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer, is a media darling. Indeed, eight of the top 10 theaters were in those two cities. The top theater in Los Angeles was the ArcLight, Hollywood; in New York City, AMC Lincoln Square.
What was surprising was the movie’s performance in Cleveland, home of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James’ team, as well as in other parts of the Midwest. Trainwreck over-indexed to the tune of 66 percent in Cleveland. It also over-indexed in certain cities in Florida, where James played for the Miami Heat before returning home to the Cavaliers.
In the film, Schumer plays a New York City journalist whose dislike of monogamy is upended when she interviews and dates a sports doctor (Hader) whose best friend is James (it’s a supporting role for the basketball champion).
Heading into the weekend, Trainwreck was expected to earn roughly $20 million. As it turned out, the movie almost matched Knocked Up ($30.9 million) to make the second-best showing of Apatow’s career as a director.
“The main reason you saw Trainwreck overperform was because of Schumer and the LeBron factor,” said Rentrak box office analyst Paul Dergarabdian. “Schumer’s ‘every woman’ quality has appeal across the board. She’s very accessible and self-effacing, no matter where you come from, no matter what your point of reference.”
Still, Trainwreck was soft in the South and Mountain States, where raunchy R-rated comedies often struggle.
Otherwise, Trainwreck over-indexed on both coasts and in the Midwest. Cities where it prospered included Boston; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Austin, Texas; Hartford, Conn.; Des Moines, Iowa; Columbus, Ohio; Omaha, Neb.; Tampa, Fla.; West Palm Beach, Fla; and Albany, N.Y.
Females (66 percent) fueled the film, made for a modest $35 million.
“Amy is an absolute budding film star. She’s already a star in the stand-up comedy world. And Judd has a way of finding talent, and imbuing characters with a real sense of sweetness. What you discover as the film plays on is a sweetness in her character. It’s really a romance comedy wrapped up in an R-rated comedy,” said Universal domestic distribution chief Nick Carpou.
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