Many people were surprised when, way back, Disney announced that Adam Sandler would be headlining their big Christmas Day release, Bedtime Stories. Famous for his foul-mouthed, underachiever characters, Sandler did not seem ideally suited for a family-friendly Disney release. Nonetheless, it looks like the Mouse House has found a way to take his persona, and make it wholesome. Think Vin Diesel in The Pacifier. Some are turned off by the idea, but what do I see here? I see a very smart and very lucrative decision by Walt Disney Pictures, because while Adam Sandler loves to play the slacker in his movies, his movies do not slack when it comes to the box office. In fact, he may well be the most consistent box office performer of our time. Love him or hate him, the man knows how to choose his movies and please his audience. Take a look at this unlikely superstar’s remarkably great track record:
Early Days: 1994-1996Sandler was a regular on Saturday Night Live from 1990-1995, and like most other popular cast members, the next step was to try to transition into film. However, his first few efforts were nothing to brag about, as none of them even cleared $40 million. Still, despite the poor box office receipts, Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison found hugely success on TV, and they became career defining roles for Adam Sandler.
1994 Airheads – $5.7 million
1994 Mixed Nuts – $6.8 million
1995 Billy Madison – $25 million
1996 Happy Gilmore – $38 million
1996 Bulletproof – $21 million
Building His Star: 1998-2000A role opposite Drew Barrymore in 1998’s The Wedding Singer took Sandler’s career to new heights, as the romantic comedy raked in a solid $80 million. But it was the one-two punch of The Waterboy and Big Daddy that solidified Adam’s place in Hollywood. The comedies were both huge successes, and even with the slightly disappointing performance of Little Nicky, no one could deny that Sandler had become a legitimate box office draw.
1998 The Wedding Singer – $80 million
1998 The Waterboy – $161 million
1999 Big Daddy – $163 million
2000 Little Nicky – $39 million
Laughing All The Way To The Bank: 2002-NowEvery year for the past seven years, Sandler has released a $100 million earner, a feat that very few people can achieve. He has wisely chosen his scripts, starring in comedies that showcase his unique brand of deadbeat humor, buffoonery, and a little dash of heart. He has truly mastered the art of playing the slacker, and audiences, who love knowing what to expect from a star, respond to his consistent style. In between his smash hit comedies, Sandler has taken some chances with more dramatic fare. However, while reviews for Punch-Drunk Love (2002), Spanglish (2004), and Reign Over Me (2007) were much better than for his comedies, their box office didn’t match up. They earned $17 million, $42 million, and $19 million, respectively. Still, that shouldn’t take away from the fact that Sandler is, without a doubt, the box office king of comedy. Want to see consistency? Well, here’s a rundown of all of his comedies from 2002 onward:
2002 Mr. Deeds – $126 million
2003 Anger Management – $135 million
2004 50 First Dates – $120 million
2005 The Longest Yard – $158 million
2006 Click – $137 million
2007 I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry – $120 million
2008 You Don’t Mess With The Zohan – $100 million
2008 Bedtime Stories – ?????
The combination of Sandler’s massively successful career with Disney’s incredible promotional abilities, I’m expecting big things from Bedtime Stories. I’ll post my full prediction in this week’s Weekend Preview, but in the meantime: What do you think of Sandler’s success? Which is your favorite movie of his? And how do you think Bedtime Stories will perform? Let your voice be heard in the comments below.