‘Trainwreck’ Box Office Success Pushes Amy Schumer on Hollywood’s A-List

'Trainwreck' Box Office Success Puts Amy
Courtesy of Universal

With only one major movie role on her resume, Amy Schumer sprinted to the top of casting wishlists this weekend on the strength of “Trainwreck’s” impressive debut.

“This is the birth of a new film star,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “She’s going to get tons of offers. This puts her in the same realm as Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig.”

Schumer was already edging along the zeitgeist thanks to her sketch show “Inside Amy Schumer,” but “Trainwreck” propels her to household name terrain. The raunchy, but also surprisingly heartfelt, romantic comedy introduced the salty standup and television personality to wider film audiences, racking up $30.2 million. That’s more than “Bridesmaids,” “Spy” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” made in their launches — impressive company considering that those films starred A-listers like Wiig, McCarthy and Steve Carell.

Most of the credit goes to Schumer, who wrote as well as anchored the film. Universal’s polling found that the actress was the second-biggest reason that audiences turned up to “Trainwreck,” while a Rentrak survey reported that 28% of ticket buyers went because Schumer’s name was above the title.

With a budget of $35 million, “Trainwreck” had to work hard to stand out in a pack of superhero films and sequels. It helped that Schumer has a flare for creating viral moments. From a racy photo shoot that found her in bed with C-3PO and R2-D2 (and drew protests from Lucasfilm) to a brutal skewering of Bill Cosby defenders, Schumer has burrowed into the popular consciousness. Her every move, comment and aside are chronicled, tweeted, shared and editorialized over in a way that raises her profile and, by extension, “Trainwreck’s.”

Through it all, she tirelessly hawked the film, Universal said, headlining screenings at places like SXSW to generate buzz for the mid-budget comedy months before it hit theaters.

“When your major star also happens to be a live performer that works so well,” said Nick Carpou, Universal domestic distribution chief, noting that Schumer was able to turn each post-screening Q&A and every interview into something of an event.

She also helped reinvigorate director Judd Apatow’s career after “This Is 40” and “Funny People” disappointed critically and commercially. Apatow, who helped usher in a new generation of comedians like Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen in the mid-aughts, seemed to be stuck in recent years, returning too often to stories of men in the throes of a mid-life crisis.

“He needed something to spark his directorial career,” said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “He’d played it too safe and cashed in too many golden tickets. This will go a long way towards helping him.”

The success of “Trainwreck” continues a long line of female-driven comedies and TV shows that have found box office and ratings riches. From “The Mindy Project” to “Broad City,” “Pitch Perfect” to “The Heat,” these cultural works have drawn crowds so frequently, that they threaten to become routine. It’s a nice change of pace from eight years ago when the late Christopher Hitchens argued, apparently earnestly, that women aren’t funny.

Contrino thinks the upcoming all-female “Ghostbusters” will raise the bar on what comedies starring women can do at the global box office, though he does have one bit of advice.

“If ‘Ghostbusters’ is still shooting, they should find a way to put in Amy Schumer,” he said.

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  1. anonymous says:

    Box office success doesn’t mean 30 million….it will make 8 million in its second weekend and then maybe 2 million the following weekend

    • joe says:

      You would be correct to say that 30 million isn’t successful if it’s a big-budget tentpole film. However, for an R-rated female-driven comedy with an A- cinemascore, 30 million is incredibly impressive. Given strong word of mouth and it’s strong box office during the week, it should go on to make at least 15-17 million this weekend with close to 10 the following weekend, and should eventually find itself to over 100 million.

  2. mike mcgloin says:

    Is she any relation to Chuck?

  3. I’m not really into RomComs, but I went to see this because I think her show is hilarious and I wasn’t disappointed. Yes it’s a RomCom, but it’s also one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a while. Maybe calling her an A-lister is a little overkill, but that doesn’t change the fact that Trainwreck had a pretty damn successful opening weekend and if she wants to keep doing movies, and studios are smart, she’s likely to have her pick when it comes to comedy roles.

  4. How is this a success? It isn’t. She’s had ONE movie and managed to offend the entire Star Wards fandom with that disgusting photo layout. She’s not some A-lister after THAT, trust.

  5. Guest says:

    A-list?
    She did one movie. My god, you people will find any reason just to kiss this woman’s @ss.

  6. Pixworks says:

    Bill Hader is hilarious, give him more credit!

  7. William says:

    I love to witness when a career takes a quantum leap. That was the first thought I had before the credits were rolling. Good for her.And btw, I had black, white, asian and hispanics all around me doing one thing, …laughing.

  8. Jerry Mathew says:

    Another white Hollywood publication touting a white actor…what a shock….WOW!!!!…the minorities in Hollywood have no chance.

    • Bill says:

      Who other than the race baiters even notices an actor’s race when they choose to go see a film?

      I myself am Asian and never looked for Asians as people I wanted to identify with in movies, I identified with the hero, whatever their race.

      • Stephen says:

        Well said, Bill. I too am tired of the race baiters bitching and whining constantly about everyone else. I go see movies that I enjoy no matter who is in them. Good movies are Good movies no matter what. And bitchy little whiners can just keep on bitching and whining to each because we tired of hearing the same BS over and over. Again, thanks Bill for speaking the truth.

  9. Stella says:

    What a bunch of BS. The movie only went up 2% on Saturday. That means word of mouth was not that good. Nice try!

    • Cecelia says:

      Some people are not capable of being entertained because they think the film on the screen must speak directly to their lives and beliefs. Boring.

    • Whateva says:

      Not whiners and bitches dude. Freedom of speech means ppl can feel how they want. And he’s not lying. It’s a white ppl movie. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

  10. m3rcnate says:

    Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, AMY SCHUMER? sorry no not yet it’s a fucking rom-com…she is NOT A-list. On her way though if she can continue to be a draw at the box office in future movies.

    • David Benjamin says:

      Whoever said that Jennifer Lawrence was an A-list actor like Meryl Streep? That’s right..NO ONE! just you.

      • m3rcnate says:

        Lol butt hurt much? They are in the A-list because of box office draw, Jennifer Lawrence is pulling TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS A MOVIE (per her sci-fi movie with Chris Pratt) because she is a A-list star that gets fans/customers into movie theater seats. She draws high attention for every movie she is in, and she draws an audience. I never said they were the same level actress in talent or performance.
        .
        Don’t kid yourself either, Jennifer is a fantastic actress who has rightly won multiple awards for her performances, like Silver Linings Playbook. She is also a huge movie star per The Hunger Games and X-Men.

  11. No Talent Amy! says:

    “Trainwreck” is right. And that’s what she is.

    • David Benjamin says:

      I’m sure she gives a rat’s ass what your dumb ass thinks! I’m one of those people that think she’s hilarious

  12. P says:

    Idiotic article. Wiig, McCarthy, and Carrell were not A-listers in the movies you mentioned. They became bankable stars BECAUSE of those movies.

    • P says:

      Correction: McCarthy was a star in Spy. The other two were not at the time

      • David Benjamin says:

        And Trainwreck is a great start for Amy’s career . She could easily be the next Melissa McCarthy. I can easily see her hosting SNL..but that would never happen with her style of raunchy comedy.

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