‘Pie’ flies in face of ‘R’ rating

Sequel opened to estimated $45.1 mil

Ratings, schmatings.

Along with new evidence of the allure of sequels and the power of super-saturation releases, “American Pie 2” came with this sweet topping for distrib Universal: A well-marketed pic can succeed even when wrapped in an R-rating.

The estimated $45.1 million weekend bow for U’s sequel to 1999’s “Pie” — which more than doubled the original’s $18.7 opening — is the best ever for an R-rated laffer. Bow outpaced a previous record set by Miramax/Dimension’s horror spoof “Scary Movie,” which opened in July 2000 at $42.3 million. “Pie 2” perf also repped the second-best “R” opener of any kind after MGM/U’s “Hannibal,” which unspooled at $58 million in February.

Conventional wisdom had it that such feats would no longer be possible for R-rated laffers, after exhibs –acknowledging political pressures –tightened enforcement of guidelines barring patrons under 17. So how did U pull off the boffo “Pie ” bow?

The simple answer seems to be clever marketing. Exit polls show a stunning reversal of the original’s 55% male bias to a 53% female skewing for “Pie 2.” U marketing boss Peter Adee fashioned TV spots in advance of the sequel’ opening that keyed less on gross-out humor and more on characters’ general “amiability.”

“A couple of months back, people were saying the R-rated comedy was dead, and we had a lot of conversation about it,” Adee recalled. “What came out of that was a campaign that was user-friendly — we reminded people of characters that they knew and loved.”

Adee added that both “Pie” pics “put people in embarrassing positions, but in a gentle way and one that involves people you like.”

By the same token, it seems a stretch to suggest that success with an established R-laffer franchise like “Pie” means that new titles bearing that rating can bow well without big teen numbers. But that’s what U execs claim they did with “Pie 2.”

Exit data showed some 67% of pic’s auds were under 25, but execs claim precious few of those younger patrons were under age 17. Meanwhile, credit U distrib topper Nikki Rocco and her troops for muscling an impressive 3,063 engagements for pic’s Friday bow, despite a late-summer season that remains crowded to an extent never seen before. Just three days prior to pic’s opening, Rocco had said she’d be fortunate to make it into 2,900 theaters, as “Rush Hour 2,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Jurassic Park III” together accounted for almost 10,000 competing playdates.

More Film

  • James L Brooks

    James L. Brooks to Be Honored With Laurel Award by Writers Guild

    Ratings, schmatings. Along with new evidence of the allure of sequels and the power of super-saturation releases, “American Pie 2” came with this sweet topping for distrib Universal: A well-marketed pic can succeed even when wrapped in an R-rating. The estimated $45.1 million weekend bow for U’s sequel to 1999’s “Pie” — which more than […]

  • Fifty Shades Freed Trailer

    'Fifty Shades Freed,' Gabrielle Union's 'Breaking In' Build Social Media Buzz

    Ratings, schmatings. Along with new evidence of the allure of sequels and the power of super-saturation releases, “American Pie 2” came with this sweet topping for distrib Universal: A well-marketed pic can succeed even when wrapped in an R-rating. The estimated $45.1 million weekend bow for U’s sequel to 1999’s “Pie” — which more than […]

  • Swedish Comedy 'Solsidan' Smashes Scandinavian Box

    Swedish Comedy 'Solsidan' Smashes Scandinavian Box Office

    Ratings, schmatings. Along with new evidence of the allure of sequels and the power of super-saturation releases, “American Pie 2” came with this sweet topping for distrib Universal: A well-marketed pic can succeed even when wrapped in an R-rating. The estimated $45.1 million weekend bow for U’s sequel to 1999’s “Pie” — which more than […]

  • HBO Buys Sundance Doc 'Price of

    Sundance: HBO Buys Art Documentary 'Price of Everything'

    Ratings, schmatings. Along with new evidence of the allure of sequels and the power of super-saturation releases, “American Pie 2” came with this sweet topping for distrib Universal: A well-marketed pic can succeed even when wrapped in an R-rating. The estimated $45.1 million weekend bow for U’s sequel to 1999’s “Pie” — which more than […]

  • USC Scripter Awards Finalists 2018: 'Wonder

    'Wonder Woman,' 'Lost City of Z,' 'Big Little Lies' Among USC Scripter Finalists

    Ratings, schmatings. Along with new evidence of the allure of sequels and the power of super-saturation releases, “American Pie 2” came with this sweet topping for distrib Universal: A well-marketed pic can succeed even when wrapped in an R-rating. The estimated $45.1 million weekend bow for U’s sequel to 1999’s “Pie” — which more than […]

  • Blade Runner 2049

    'Blade Runner 2049,' 'Game of Thrones' Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations

    Ratings, schmatings. Along with new evidence of the allure of sequels and the power of super-saturation releases, “American Pie 2” came with this sweet topping for distrib Universal: A well-marketed pic can succeed even when wrapped in an R-rating. The estimated $45.1 million weekend bow for U’s sequel to 1999’s “Pie” — which more than […]

  • Timothee Chalamet

    Timothée Chalamet Donates Salary From Woody Allen Film to Time's Up, Other Charities

    Ratings, schmatings. Along with new evidence of the allure of sequels and the power of super-saturation releases, “American Pie 2” came with this sweet topping for distrib Universal: A well-marketed pic can succeed even when wrapped in an R-rating. The estimated $45.1 million weekend bow for U’s sequel to 1999’s “Pie” — which more than […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content