Summer Box Office: Studios Brace for Comedy Pileup

With 10 sidesplitters hitting theaters in as many weeks -- movies starring the likes of Cameron Diaz, Robert Downey Jr. and Seth Rogen -- several could be left out of the joke.

This story first appeared in the March 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

In a risky move, studios have slotted an unusually high number of comedies in May, June and July, hoping to repeat the success of past summer hits including The Hangover, Ted, Bridesmaids and last year's This Is the End and We're the Millers.

"Comedies are different from tentpoles or animated films because they can be geared for different audiences," says 20th Century Fox distribution chief Chris Aronson. "People love to laugh."

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Fox essentially kicks off the summer of comedy on April 25 with The Other Woman, starring Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann. On May 9, no fewer than three comedies open: Jon Favreau's Chef, the Christian movie Mom's Night Out and Seth Rogen and Zac Efron's R-rated entry Neighbors. Chef, starring Favreau, Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson, likely will play like a mainstream comedy, while Neighbors hopes to draw a more edgy crowd.

Blended, reuniting Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, opens May 23, and a week after that, Seth MacFarlane's A Million Ways to Die in the West debuts.

June's comedy slate includes 22 Jump Street (June 13) and Think Like a Man Too, starring Kevin Hart (June 20). Melissa McCarthy's Tammy anchors July, opening on the 2nd. (This will be McCarthy's second comedy of the summer: In April, she's got St. Vincent de Van Nuys). On July 25, Diaz and Jason Segel unveil their Sex Tape.