By Scott Mendelson
"22 Jump Street" opened with $60 million last weekend, good for the fifth-biggest live-action comedy debut of all-time. The Channing Tatum/Jonah Hill action comedy is in rare company in that it is a comedy somewhat expected to perform like a blockbuster. Can it enter the rarified realm of blockbuster comedy sequels? Well, with that opening, it's less of an "if" than a "when" at this juncture. To help find out where it might end up, let's take a look at the biggest-grossing comedy sequels in our cinematic history. Purely for fun for our communal educational benefit, here are the 14 biggest-grossing comic sequels of all-time.
But first, some disclaimers. This list will be confined to live-action comedy sequels (sorry "Toy Story 2" and "The Smurfs 2") and will only be for actual "part II" installments (sorry "Toy Story 3" and "Leonard Part 6"). Also, this will be based on global box office and not adjusted for inflation, although I'm sure "A Shot in the Dark" would be in the running with its $12 million domestic gross back in 1964. Finally, these films are all primarily comedies. Some have action and special effects, but their primary purpose is laughter (sorry "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" or "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle").
I built this list from scratch using the Box Office Mojo database, so I'm hoping that I didn't miss anything. Without further ado, let's see what kind of company "22 Jump Street" hopes to find itself in among the ranks of comic sequels.
No. 14. "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" (1995)
$212 million worldwide
This was the lightning-fast cash-in to the film that made Jim Carrey a superstar just under two years prior, Warner Bros.' "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective." It is also, until this November's "Dumb and Dumber To," the only sequel that Carrey ever appeared in where he in-fact also appeared in the previous installment (as opposed to his "joining up later" roles in "The Dead Pool," "Batman Forever" and "Kick-Ass 2"). This is noteworthy in that we've actually seen sequels or prequels to "The Mask" ("Son of the Mask"), "Dumb and Dumber" ("Dumber and Dumberer") and "Bruce Almighty" ("Evan Almighty"), and (to the extent that this counts) "Batman Forever" ("Batman & Robin").
This was a "strike while the iron is hot" cash-in project, and Carrey admitted as much at the time. As for the film itself, it is just as bawdy and crude in its humor, but it is also somewhat more family-friendly as well. The first film is a nasty little comedy with explicit sexual vulgarity and a little transphobia thrown in for good measure. "When Nature Calls" is not any better or worse than the first picture, just funny in somewhat different ways. Like a handful of examples on this list, this was a somewhat more kid-friendly sequel to a somewhat-more adult (or at least older-kid) skewing original entry.
The first picture opened with $12 million, which was enough to trumpet Mr. Carrey as a new movie star back in 1994. The original film went on to earn $105m worldwide, which of course was followed up by "The Mask" ($23m debut, an eye-popping $351m worldwide), and "Dumb and Dumber" ($16m opening, $247m worldwide). "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls" debuted with $37 million in the first weekend in November, which was the biggest debut weekend outside of summer in box office history.
It was also a simpler time when, and I remember this vividly, a $37m debut meant that everyone at your school had seen the film that weekend. The picture was a quick-kill blockbuster, earning just $105m domestic and $212m worldwide. The film earned $20m in its second weekend even as the much-anticipated return of 007 rocked the weekend box office with "GoldenEye" earning $26m. As Warner Bros. stated that Sunday or Monday, "Well, how many films make $20 million in their first weekend?" I feel... old.
No. 13. "Ghostbusters II" (1989)
$215 million worldwide
The opening weekend record was broken three times in just over a month in the summer of 1989. The first time was the $29.3 million Fri-Sun debut of "Indiana Jones" and the Last Crusade over its $37m Memorial Day debut. Three weekends later, the record was just barely surpassed by Columbia's "Ghostbusters II." The much-anticipated comic sequel earned a whopping $29.4m over the third weekend in June. It would keep that record for one weekend before Tim Burton's "Batman" changed everything.
The glorified cast reunion sequel, which brought back the entire main cast of Ghostbusters (Bill Murray, Sigourney Weaver, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, etc.) was indeed a fine example of how sequels worked back then. They weren't as good as the originals, they often cost a lot more, and they usually made noticeably less money. Ghostbusters II isn't a terrible film, just merely a somewhat flat picture. There are things to enjoy, such as Peter MacNicol's whacked-out performance. But the film just isn't very funny, partially because it was a case of a somewhat for-adults original becoming a kid-friendly smash and spawning a more kid-friendly sequel.
It's the kind of irrelevant sequel that will probably not even be referenced if "Ghostbusters III" ever comes about. The film was also somewhat of a front-loaded picture, earning $109 million domestic and $212m worldwide off that record $29.4m debut compared to the original film's $291m worldwide (with just $53m coming overseas). It wasn't so bad that it killed the franchise, but it's pretty irrelevant aside from box office trivia.
No. 12. "Crocodile Dundee II" (1988)
$239 million worldwide
This is where I try to remember much about Paramount's "Crocodile Dundee II" (thank goodness "The Santa Claus 2" just barely missed the list). It opened against "Rambo III" over Memorial Day weekend 1988, which if you recall was during a period when summer began over Memorial Day weekend as opposed to very early May. It earned a mammoth $24m over the Fri-Sun frame ($29m over Fri-Mon), which was one of the biggest opening weekends of all-time at that moment (it might have been second only to number #8 on the list at the time). But the film wasn't nearly as popular as the fish-out-of-water original film and it earned "just" $109m domestic/$239m worldwide compared to the 1986 original's $174m/$328m gross.
Okay, here's something worth discussing. Even as an eight-year old, I noticed this curiosity. The original film, which contained almost no violence but had profanity and drug use, was rated PG-13. As with "Ghostbusters II," the kid-friendly success of the original led to a PG-rated sequel. But said "kid-friendly" sequel contained no hard profanity but was a carnage-filled plot involving murderous drug runners. So random guy snorting cocaine for laughs: PG-13. But "people being executed at point-blank range while they scream and cry": PG.
The film has no gore of course, but it's basically a violent action picture that just happens to feature Paul Hogan reprising his comic role. So yes, the MPAA has been really weird about violence as opposed to sex or profanity for much longer than you'd think. Today the first two films are most notable in how they provide the explicit template for the first two Thor movies. So if you want to know how "Thor 3" will play out, watch "Crocodile Dundee in LA" and be afraid.
No. 11. "Grown Ups 2" (2013):
$247 million worldwide
This is the newest film on the list, and as such it's arguably on the list partially due to inflation and the added presence of overseas box office over the last half-decade or so. As of today, "Grown Ups 2" remains the only sequel that Adam Sandler has made, and as such it came about when he was in somewhat of a rough patch. By coincidence or design, the film followed the relative box office stumbles of "Jack and Jill" ($149 million worldwide on a $79m budget) and "That's My Boy" ($59m on a $70m budget). This was a sequel to his most popular live-action film, as the original "Grown Ups" earned $271m worldwide back in 2010. This was a case where going back to the well worked out, as "Grown Ups 2" earned $247m worldwide, good for Sandler's second-largest worldwide hit.
The second film involves a vacation, which became enough of a running gimmick in Sandler comedies like "Just Go With It," "50 First Dates," and "Blended" that Sandler all-but-admitted that his features are often glorified paid vacations. Adam Sandler's consistent starring vehicles seem to exist also to keep those around him above and below-the-line consistently employed as well, which is akin to a contractor who takes money-losing off-season jobs in order to keep the employees under him/her working year-round. I no real issue with Sandler using his consistent bank-ability to keep those in his circle employed. Heck, had "Blended" made enough money to get Drew Barrymore another directorial project five years after the dynamite and utterly ignored "Whip It," I would have placed it on my "best-of-summer" list on moral principle.
No. 10. "American Pie 2" (2001):
$287 million worldwide
This was released during the summer of 2001, which is when opening weekends started to become completely insane. As such, the $45 million debut for Universal's "American Pie 2" was only the fourth-biggest opening weekend over the prior six weeks. But it did set a record for the biggest R-rated comedy debut, which it held for at least several years (I think "Sex and the City" was the one that topped it with $57m in 2008). And until last year, it (domestically) was the biggest-grossing R-rated comedy to debut in August (thanks, "We're the Millers").
It's still the top R-rated August comedy worldwide. There isn't much to say about this one, frankly. It is the highest grossing in the franchise, both domestically and globally. It opened well based on the popularity of the first film and more-than-made back its $30 million budget. The only thing noteworthy about it is that the DVD versions contain a bounty of deleted scenes which detail several major subplots that were removed during the re-shoot-heavy production process.
No. 9. "Sex and the City 2" (2010):
$288 million worldwide
This is the only one on the list that is arguably considered a box office failure by the industry at-large. In truth, it was a $100 million sequel to a television adaptation that earned nearly three-times its budget in theaters alone. Yes, the Sarah Jessica Parker-led sequel made much less than the $415m earned by "Sex and the City" in 2008, but let's not pretend that the swift declaration of death for the franchise wasn't partially due to many who wanted to see it killed. This is also (by far) the biggest grossing female-centric comedy sequel, which I'm sure had absolutely nothing to do with its "Burn the witch!" reception.
Yes, "Sex and the City 2" is a terrible movie, but frankly quite a few films on this list or just below it are lousy movies. A $100 million franchise entry that earns nearly $300m worldwide is usually looked at as, at worst, a slight under-performer depending on how the last film did. As is often the case with franchises based on TV shows, curiosity and general audience interest spurred the success of the first film, while the curiosity vanished for the second film leaving only the hardcore fans.
Four years later, it's likely that there will be no "Sex and the City 3," although you do hear rumblings now-and-then from interested parties. Quite frankly if they could get the budget back down to $50 million, I see little reason why a third film couldn't make a few bucks considering how little there is in the multiplex targeted at women too old to (stereotypically) be interested in "The Hunger Games." Let's just say "The Other Woman" isn't at $191m worldwide because it's good.
No. 8. "Beverly Hills Cop II" (1987):
$299 million worldwide
When "22 Jump Street" makes fun of kind of action sequels that basically tell the same story over again, this is the kind of thing they are referring to. Offhand, this is easily the worst film Tony Scott ever made (no, you're wrong, "The Fan" is severely underrated) and I would say one of the laziest sequels of an era when sequels defined laziness. So of course the film broke an opening weekend record in Memorial Day 1987, earning $26 million over the Fri-Sun portion and $33m over the Fri-Mon period, besting "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom"'s $25.3m Fri-Sun debut in 1984.
"Beverly Hills Cop" was a groundbreaking smash hit, running along with "Ghostbusters" that same year for months-upon-months in packed movie houses. Along with Back to the Future a year later, those two films defined the era of uber-leggy 1980's blockbusters. "Beverly Hills Cop II" is technically a comedy sequel that puts more effort into the action than the comedy, as opposed to "Beverly Hills Cop" which was a comedy with an extended action climax. It's also just not funny, with Eddie Murphy running through the motions and yet another "Eddie comes to Beverly Hills to show these upper-crust cops how to fight crime" plot that mimics the first one.
The film earned $155 million domestic and $299m worldwide off that record opening weekend, becoming the third-biggest domestic grosser of the year after "Fatal Attraction" ($157m) and "Three Men and a Baby" ($167m). "Beverly Hills Cop III" was a worse movie, not even trying to be all that funny amid its action plot that sent Axel to an amusement park but didn't even try to be amusing. I don't think the original "Beverly Hills Cop" is the greatest movie ever made by any stretch of the imagination, most notable as it is for truly melding gee-whiz comedy with extended violent action scenes. But Murphy is trying in the first one, while he spent most of his energy in 1987 on the underrated "Golden Child."
No. 7. "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me"
$312 million worldwide
Mike Myers's "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" is one of the great mainstream comedies of the last twenty years and my pick for the best mainstream comedy of the 1990's. The sequel, however, is a classic case of "bigger does not equal better." The film misses the appeal of the first film, presuming that the characters themselves (Austin Powers and Dr. Evil specifically) are inherently funny as opposed to the fish-out-of-water scenarios they might be placed in.
Austin Powers I was about something, both a riff on the action genre and spy
movies in general and a commentary on relative failure of the counter-culture
movement by virtue of how their "free love" allowed their message to be
demonized or ignored. "Austin Powers II" isn't really about anything at all. The
film recycles jokes from the first film, wastes Heather Graham and her perfect
hair, and builds most of its humor out of the notion that seeing Mr. Powers and
Dr. Evil in their natural environment is as funny as seeing them struggle
outside their element. But the film was a massive hit.
The marketing campaign was gold, with a delightful teaser that openly mocked its "second-tier" status compared to The Phantom Menace and a trailer that highlighted the few good jokes the film offered. The picture earned a ridiculous for-its-time $20 million on opening day and by the first weekend had surpassed the original film's $53m domestic gross. The picture was relatively leggy became the rare comedy sequel to cross $200m domestic. It earned $312m worldwide and spawned an almost-as-success successful sequel, "Austin Powers: Goldmember" ($213m domestic, but $296m worldwide). You probably hate the third film but like the first two. We'll have to agree to disagree.
No. 6. "Back to the Future II" (1989):
$331 million worldwide
Yes, I've been complaining about the last few entries, but it's not my fault truly awesome comic sequels like "Addams Family Values" and "Shanghai Knights" didn't crack the list. But now we get to a genuinely good and genuinely creative sequel. I have talked and will talk a lot about sequels that basically recycle the plot of the first film, but this one does just that with a rather terrific little twist. The entire third act of the picture basically concerns Michael J. Fox's Marty reliving the events of the first film from a different vantage point. And that's just the third act!
The first act is an admittedly goofy and slight "into the future!" segment which is mostly notable today for the fact that it takes place in 2015 and we aren't even close to the kind of future presented in said film. But the middle is a pitch-black horror show, as the events of the first act cause a rift in time that presents a horrifying "alternate 1985" which disturbed and/or scared the crap out of kids back in 1989 (I was a little disturbed). If the first film used time travel as a means-to-an-end, then the second film was very much about time travel in a broader sense.
"Back to the Future" was of course a massive smash, as it played for months-upon-months back in 1985, earning $210 million domestic and $470m worldwide. As Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale famously claim, had they known there was going to be a sequel (VHS versions added a "To Be Continued" card on the end), they never would have ended the film with a (very expensive) flying car special effect. But four years later we got not one but two sequels. The initial treatment was so long that they cut it into two movies. Back to the Future II opened over Thanksgiving 1989 with a massive $43m Wed-Sun debut. Obviously there was much pent-up demand for a continuation.
But the film was challenging in a number of ways, from the dark "evil 1985" sequences to the head-spinning time-travel mechanics that lost a good number of young kids (I had to listen closely to Christopher Lloyd's exposition). This was not a PG-rated comedy for adults that spawned a kid-friendly sequel. If anything, the dark tone and complicated science caused the film to drop like a rock after its debut, ending its domestic run with just $118m, an early example of a quick-kill blockbuster.
"Back to the Future III," a more straightforward wild west adventure, dropped Memorial Day weekend 1990, but the mixed reception for part II hurt part III. It earned "just" $23m over its Fri-Mon debut and ending its domestic run with $88m and $244m worldwide. Back to the Future set the template for the whole "shoot two sequels at once" gimmick that gave way to the "Pirates" sequels, the "Matrix" sequels, and the now-standard "split the final book into two films" shtick used by every popular young-adult fantasy series. Come what may, "Back to the Future II" has the best cliffhanger of all time, bar none. 25 years later, I still get chills when Marty opens that letter from Doc Brown written in 1885. Love it or hate it, "Back to the Future Ppart II" stood tall in its day as one of the least lazy sequels this side of "The Empire Strikes Back."
No. 5. "Rush Hour 2" (2001):
$349 million worldwide
You know how I'm always talking about sequels to surprise hit originals or slow earners that build a fan base in theaters and then again on VHS or DVD only to absolutely explode when the sequel debuts? Yeah, once again, Brett Ratner's "Rush Hour 2" opened with double its predecessor's debut ($67m versus $33m for Rush Hour) and ended up earning $103m more worldwide. As for the film, it's pretty disposable. On one hand, "Rush Hour 2" gives Jackie Chan more action sequences and doesn't spend so much time with Chris Tucker verbally abusing his partner. On the other hand, it's a much less coherent and fluid film than the original or even the "at least we're trying to take this seriously" "Rush Hour 3."
It also cost $90 million to produce, or about double the original film's budget, so it's a good thing it made noticeably more money this time around. It's also another "kid-friendlier" sequel, with less violence and very little profanity this time-around (Chris Tucker found religion in between installments). The series as a whole isn't a patch on the "Shanghai Noon"/"Shanghai Knights" films, but they still helped Jackie Chan reintroduce himself to American audiences right when his newest US comeback of sorts (with dubbed and edited versions of his films being released domestically by Miramax) was starting to wind down.
No. 4. "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" (1992):
$358 million worldwide
I hate "Home Alone." I didn't like the film when I was ten and attributed its then-record domestic box office success (with $285m, it was the third-biggest US grosser behind "Star Wars" and "E.T.") to repeat viewership of the film's one highlight, the extended Looney Tunes riff where Macaulay Culkin sends two burglars (Daniel Stern and Joe Pesci) on a trap-filled odyssey to hell inside his home. But the rest of the film is a wash, and if you want to see Culkin actually act rent "My Girl" or "Saved!." A sequel was inevitable and this was a clear example of "pour the first film into a different cup."
The film substitutes everyone's favorite big city for suburbia. You get the same core plot, the same character arcs, and the same crowd-pleasing "Kevin tries really hard to murder two burglars" finale. Back in 1992, I was genuinely "afraid" that Chris Columbus's "Home Alone 2" would break the opening weekend record set by "Batman Returns" due to what would have been a somewhat groundbreaking at the time case of a sequel breaking way out compared to the original due to the original's leggy and word-of-mouth fueled run. "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" opened the weekend before Thanksgiving.
"Home Alone 2" overcame poor reviews to earn $31 million that weekend, good for the fifth-biggest debut of all-time behind Terminator 2 ($31.7m), Lethal Weapon 3 ($33m), Batman ($42m), and Batman Returns ($47m). The film's business was comparatively a bit front-loaded, but still leggy by most standards. It did $173 million domestic and $358m worldwide (compared to $476m for "Home Alone"), somewhat overshadowed by the Thanksgiving releases Aladdin ($217m domestic/$504m worldwide) and The Bodyguard ($121m/$411m).
No. 3. "Men In Black II" (2002):
$442 million worldwide
As worldwide grosses became more important in the 2000's and inflation kicks in accordingly, we start to see a film like "Men in Black II," which absolutely no one remembers with any fondness for its jokes, becoming one of the top-grossing comedy sequels of all time. You could argue that the film is as much a sci-fi FX-filled action romp, but then you'd have to make the same argument for Ghostbusters. Barry Sonnenfeld's "Men in Black" films are absolutely comedy-first affairs. As such, the utterly forgettable "Men in Black II" shows up at number 3 on the list with $442 million worldwide. Only $190m of that came from America, with $251m coming from overseas.
That was a little lower than the $559m earned by "Men in Black" in 1997, but it was enough (even with production hassles that raised the film's budget to $140m) to reignite Will Smith's box office mojo and kick-start his "biggest movie star in Earth" period, which lasted from 2002 to 2012. The film had a strong trailer, included a rather pointed racial gag as the kicker, and it opened on the same July 4th weekend as the prior film, "Wild Wild West," and "Independence Day." It pulled in a whopping $87m in its Wed-Mon debut, which was still among the top ten or so five-day openings on record back in 2002. It was the presumptive "big" film for much of July, as the likes of "Signs," "Austin Powers: Goldmember", and "xXx" were kind enough to wait until late July/early August.
As such, even with terrible reviews and no real buzz, the Will Smith/Tommy Lee Jones sequel earned a solid $190m (2.18x its holiday debut, which is almost leggy for said holiday weekend) and was unquestionably a hit. But so much of the gross went to the stars and the likes of Sonnenfeld and producer Steven Spielberg that we didn't see "Men in Black 3" until 2012 when Will Smith was somewhat recovering from the (alleged) box office disappointment of "Seven Pounds." The first film is the one everyone remembers and the third one is (in my opinion) the best of the series (and ironically the highest global grosser of the franchise at $624m with the help of inflation and 3D), but "Men in Black II" is mostly forgotten or remembered with ill-will.
No. 2. "Meet the Fockers" (2004):
$516 million worldwide
"Meet the Parents" was a somewhat surprising hit in October 2000, opening with $28 million and earning $166m domestic and $245m worldwide off a $55m budget. The remake of a little-seen French picture had a gem of a concept, a stereotypical Jewish guy has to get in good graces with the family of his would-be fiancée, with the catch being that said father is Robert De Niro at his most De Niro-ish. "Meet the Fockers" had a killer hook for the second time around: This time we would meet Stiller's parents, played by Dustin Hoffman and Barbara Streisand. This is what I talk about when I talk about sequels having "added value elements" to avoid to the perception that it's just more of the same.
Yes the film has some pretty obvious "Jew vs. Gentile" and "Liberal vs. Conservative" culture clash humor, but the sheer chemistry of all parties makes it mostly work. I actually prefer it to the first film, if only because Streisand's presence gives Blythe Danner something to do this time around. Anyway, what matters is that the $80 million-budgeted film opened to $70m over the Wed-Sun Christmas weekend debut, taking full advantage of the end-of-year legs and earning $162m by the end of its tenth day in domestic release. It was the perfect "consensus choice" for movie-going groups of all ages and demographics over the holiday season and beyond.
Despite a relatively strong January 2005 slate (White Noise and Coach Carter both opened over/under $25m), the Focker sequel kept a-chugging, eventually earning an obscene $279m domestic, second only to "Home Alone" in terms of non-fantastical comedies. The film's $516m worldwide total makes it the third-biggest comedy ever behind Ted ($549m) and the number one film on this list. It also makes director Jay Roach the only helmer of two top-grossing comedy sequels, as he also directed all three "Austin Powers" films. We eventually got "Little Fockers" in 2010, which cost at least $100m, was hated by all, but still earned $310m worldwide.
No. 1. "The Hangover Part II" (2011)
$586 million worldwide
It's no contest really. Of course, this Warner Bros. franchise, arguably one of the least likely franchises in recent memory, had the good luck to pop out just as overseas box office was hitting another peak. As you'll notice if you look up "Gee, why wasn't 'this film' on the list?," you'll notice that comedies tend to make the vast majority of their money in America ("Anchorman 2" made just $46m overseas). But "The Hangover" franchise, like the Focker franchise, is somewhat of an exception. The first "Hangover" film didn't just open with $44 million (the biggest non-sequel R-rated comedy debut ever at the time), it had a stunningly leggy run that ended with $277m domestic. Worldwide, it earned $467m, basically pulling the same 50/50 spread as a conventional action blockbuster.
That made it both third-biggest R-rated film of all-time in America behind "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Passion of the Christ" and the third-biggest comedy ever behind "Meet the Fockers" and "Home Alone." It was also biggest R-rated film of all time behind "Saving Private Ryan," "Troy," "The Passion of the Christ," and "The Matrix Reloaded." It would later be surpassed by "Ted" (currently the biggest R-rated comedy ever) and "The Hangover Part II," which made more money than any comedy "part II" in cinematic history with $586 million worldwide.
As you know, sequels to films that were surprise hits, were slow earners, or found a large audience on DVD and cable tend to go nuts on opening weekend. This was the case with The Hangover part II. There has never been an R-rated film that earned $100 million in a Fri-Sun weekend. Had "The Hangover Part II" not opened on the Thursday of its Memorial Day 2011 weekend debut, it probably would have been the first. But it had to "settle" for an $85.9m Fri-Sun debut and a 5-day $135m opening weekend. Alas, the film was very front-loaded, as Memorial Day openers tend to be, and the film earned "just" $254m domestic, or about 1.88x its five-day opening. Of course, $586m worldwide says "Who cares about front-loading?"
The film received pretty brutal reviews, with most correctly complaining that it was basically a glossier and more expensive remake of the first film. Todd Phillips's $85 million sequel was unquestionably one of the more visually striking comedies ever made, as the vibrant and not-so vibrant portions of Bangkok look gorgeous. It's clear Phillips was attempting for something resembling an "epic" comedy. And the first act of the film is filled with a kind of grim foreboding that suggests horrible and unforgivable things are going to occur this go-around. But after that first act, the film seemingly resets and gives us a relatively harmless retread of the first picture's antics.
There seems to be such a disconnect between the first act, with its Heart of Darkness gravity, and the rest of the film that one can only guess what did or didn't happen during production. But audiences didn't care about the recycled material or what appeared to be a somewhat compromised story. They came to see the Wolf Pack (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis) reunited and going through most of the same motions as last time.
Ironically Todd Phillips went very different and somewhat serious with "The Hangover Par III" last summer, but audiences comparatively stayed away, either burned from the second film or merely not wanting a sequel that played more like a drama than a bawdy comedy. Still, $362m on a $100m budget for the third go-around is nothing to sneeze at. Considering how few R-rated franchises exist, especially outside the realm of comedy, it's tough to imagine a bigger R-rated franchise existing anytime in the near future, comedy or otherwise.
And that's a wrap for this exhaustive look at comedy sequels! If I missed one, let me know and this will quickly become "the 15 top comedy sequels" as soon as I'm able to update. If you're wondering about films that maybe/possibly should have qualified, I count "Ocean's 12" as a caper film that happens to be occasionally funny, but for the record the sequel made $362 million in 2004. And I count "Lethal Weapon 2" ($227 million worldwide in 1989) and "Bad Boys II" ($273 million worldwide in 2003) as action films that happen to contain some comedy.
Meanwhile, "22 Jump Street" must reach $290m to reach the top ten in this specific list, while "Horrible Bosses 2" and "Dumb and Dumber To" may-well have a shot at joining the ranks this November. After that we'll see if "Ted 2" and the inevitable "Neighbors 2" can earn a spot near the top of this would-be tower. Until then, we'll be watching the box office performance of "22 Jump Street" to see if Hill and Channing can become the next Chan and Tucker beyond just opening weekend.