Bad Moms crossed $100 million in domestic grossers over the weekend. It’s STX Entertainment’s first big hit on that scale, having now earned $103.78m in North America alone. The Mila Kunis/Kathryn Hahn/Kristen Bell comedy more-than-doubled the $43m total of The Gift, which was their first release last August and their previously biggest earner. STX’s mission statement was to score big hits with mid-budget, star-driven studio programmers that had fallen out of fashion at the major studios. As such, after a rocky first year, this is more than just a hit. It’s a proof of concept. Moreover, it represents a clear example of the value of a “nothing like this in the marketplace” multiplex offering.
Yes, STX snagged a $100m+ hit in just under a year of existence. It took Weinstein Company just under four years to score Inglorious Basterds. Lionsgate was in existence for nine years before Fahrenheit 9/11. Summit was around for a year before Twilight put them on the map accordingly, but the likes of Relativity, FilmDistrict, CBS, Open Road, and A24 are either still waiting for that benchmark hit or came and went absent said milestone. As more and more of these smaller distribution houses take on what used to be the studio programmer, we should be rooting for as many Bad Moms-ish breakouts as possible.
And it did so off a $23.8 million opening weekend, meaning the R-rated female-targeted comedy has earned a 4.36x weekend (and counting) multiplier. That makes it the leggiest wide release since Leonardo DiCaprio’s The Revenant (and it will soon pass that one’s Oscar-boosted multiplier once it tops $112m). We’ve talked a lot about whether movies still “matter.” Yes, the would-be blockbusters didn’t all work and generally weren’t very good, and we allegedly obsessed overPokémon GO and Stranger Things instead of the movies. But movies like Bad Moms don’t get to $100m+ from a $23.8m opening unless the people who saw it liked it and talked about it with their friends.
If you do a cursory search among so-called “mommy blogs” or bloggers who maybe aren’t explicitly film critics, you’ll find any number ofdiscussion pieces about the movie and its themes. Warts and all (and everyone’s favorite viral PTA mom story underscores how badly the film bungled its third act), Bad Moms inspired admiration, criticism, discussion, and interest among the specific demographics that it targeted, the same demographics that turned it into the year’s leggiest movie. There were a few good posts in so-called FilmTwitter as well. That the picture got drowned out online by Suicide Squad posts (mea culpa) doesn’t mean the STX release didn’t matter to the particular audience at which it was aimed.
To those who did the “girls night out” thing on opening weekend and then told their friends to do the same, Bad Moms damn-well mattered this summer. Ditto the smaller-scale and leggier films like Central Intelligence and Sausage Party that scored big this summer precisely because there was nothing else like it in the marketplace. You had an old-school star-driven action comedy, a throwback “young woman versus a shark” thriller, and a bawdy R-rated animated comedy. And you had Bad Moms, a movie specifically aimed at the cultural zeitgeist even if that culture doesn’t necessarily represent the stereotypical film blogger.
The post-debut legs means audiences saw them, liked them, and told their friends to see them. That’s probably the most valuable lesson from its leggy success. When you offer a film like Bad Moms that runs contrary to conventional wisdom about what a hit movie is supposed to be, especially when it targets a demographic that is used to being ignored, and you treat it like an event, said demographic shows up. They showed up for Bad Moms, they showed up for Universal/Comcast Corp.’s Krampus last December, and they are gradually turning up for CBS Films/Lionsgate’s Hell or High Water.
The lessons of Bad Moms are clear: Offer something entirely different which targets a neglected demographic and make that film a big deal among said moviegoers. For many of those who helped make Bad Moms a $141.43 million (and counting) worldwide hit, it was the event movie of the year.