Once the king of the R-rated comedy, Judd Apatow could use a hit — and Universal is hoping that it will be this weekend's "Get Him to the Greek."
For the better part of the last decade, Apatow was the most prolific producer/director of R-rated summer comedies in Hollywood, seemingly able to get a greenlight for just about anything he touched.
And amid an output volume that included no less than 10 films between 2005-2008, his batting average was solid, with films he produced during that span collectively grossing more than $1.5 billion worldwide.
Then, on the heels of two monster hits, 2007's "Superbad" and "Knocked Up," came the slide. The same year, "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" and "Drillbit Taylor" bit the dust. Only 2008's "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" showed the old Apatow spark.
His summer roll practically ground to a halt last year with the underperformance of the two summer comedies that bore his signature, "Year One" and "Funny People."
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With Universal’s “Get Him to the Greek” premiering Friday, Apatow will seek to emerge from a box-office slump.
The odds look pretty good.
Budgeted at $40 million, the film casts British comedian Russell Brand as Aldous Snow, the volatile, day-seizing English rocker he played in “Sarah Marshall.” Also back is “Sarah Marshall” director Nick Stoller and film co-writer Jason Segel. Launching at 2,695 theaters Friday with solid reviews and decent tracking, the R-rated summer comedy is well-reviewed (74 percent fresh) and projected to open to around $15 million this weekend.
Then, ironically for one of the busiest men in the movies, it's a bit of a dry spell, with only two movies definitely set for the next two years, both in pre-production: "Wanderlust" with Jennifer Aniston and "40-Year-Old Virgin's" Paul Rudd, directed and written by "Role Model's" David Wain, and a still-untitled Kristin Wiig project, directed by "Knocked Up" and "Dewey Cox's" Paul Feig.
The good news is that he still has one thing in his favor: the audience.
“The Apatow brand continues to have plenty of resonance,” said Vinnie Bruzzese, who heads movie research for OTX Research. "Particularly with his very dedicated fanbase.”
A success with "Get Him to the Greek" would go a long way toward keeping that resonance alive.