Adam Sandler: 15 years after ‘SNL’, he’s still top dog at the B.O. There’s usually a life expectancy for a “Saturday Night Live” alum at the box office, however, Adam Sandler is showing signs of beating that.

With his summer sleeper “Grown Ups,” about to chalk up $160 million, the comedian is seeing his best run at the B.O. in more than a decade.

The Los Angeles Times analyzes the comedy’s gross:

That’s four times its opening-weekend take, a very high multiple that indicates word of mouth on the film about high school friends who reunite in middle age has been unusually good.

Sandler hasn’t enjoyed a multiple that good on any of his trademark PG-13 comedies since 1998’s “The Waterboy” and 1999’s “Big Daddy,” both of which had box-office performances nearly identical to “Grown Ups.”

That’s amazing for a “SNL” alum who left the show 15 years ago in 1995. Typically due to waning tastes in comedy, and the emergence of fresh “SNL” talent on the screen, young male moviegoers turn their back on the titans. Recently, that hasn’t been the case as audiences turned their noses up to “MacGruber” starring current SNLers Will Forte and Kristen Wiig. The May comedy tanked making $8.5 million. A similar situation occurred with 2007’s “Hot Rod,” an Andy Samberg vehicle which only made $13.9 million at the August B.O.

It’s all a testament to Sandler’s strength as an actor, writer and producer. He knows the guffaws which moviegoers want. Like Stallone, who assembled, vintage action stars in this weekend’s No. 1 film, “The Expendables,” Sandler brought together his old “SNL” buddies Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and David Spade – making it more of a must-see film. Sony and Relativity Media, who financed “Grown Ups” spent from $70-$80 million on the film and it’s set to turn a decent profit.

Arguably, Chevy Chase’s hot streak at the B.O. lasted for 13 years after he departed the hit NBC sketch show in 1976. Chase hit his B.O. high with 1989’s “Christmas Vacation” ($71.3 million) before his grosses slid him into character actor work. Bill Murray also enjoyed a 13-year ride as a B.O. star after leaving “SNL” in 1980. 1993’s “Groundhog Day” ($70.9 million) was his last star comedy vehicle that did well before they crashed and he morphed into a highly coveted absurdist arthouse star which nabbed him an Oscar nom for 2003’s “Lost in Translation.”

It’s not that Chase and Murray fail to get work; rather they are a different type of star now. It’s highly unlikely that an $80 million-plus summer tentpole will be built solely around their image.

Actually, Eddie Murphy does outstrip Sandler in terms of former “SNL” cast members run at the B.O.: He continues to pump out hits, 26 years after leaving the show. 2007’s “Norbit” came close to reaching $100 million. While still a clown, Murphy had to change his comedy game to get his blockbuster status back, swapping hard R action films for family and urban features.

It’s often said that sometimes it’s a star’s ego that kills their career. Sandler has a reputation for being a down-to-earth guy, who keeps his friends at his side in a town full of sharks. He also remains a godfather of sorts to burgeoning comedians. After stand-up comedian Kevin James left the CBS sitcom “The King of Queens” in 2007, Sandler was key in propelling the actor as a marquee draw: Sandler produced James’ hits “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” and next summer’s comedy “The Zookeeper.”

What makes Sandler the anomaly? When he’s not putting on a serious face, like in last year’s “Funny People,” Sandler continues to rake in the bucks doing the same thing he did back when he made 1995’s “Billy Madison” – being enjoyably goofy.

Photo Credit: Universal


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One Comment

  • September 5, 2010 | Permalink |

    I love when he does drama though, like funny People and Punch-Drunk Love. Those just don’t make 100 million like him comedies.

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