For the first time in more than two years, a straight-up comedy is no. 1 at the box office. Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish’s Night School debuted with $28m in ticket sales, according to estimates on Sunday.
The race for the weekend top spot was, in the end, a laugher. Warner Bros.′ animated release Smallfoot, which cost about $80m to make, trailed in second with $23m.
More than most studios, Universal has stuck by comedy. This year, it also released the prom-night farce Blockers ($60.1m worldwide on a $21m budget) and the comic musical Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again ($390.1m worldwide on a $75m budget).
It’s the second straight no. 1 for Universal, which last week led ticket sales with the Amblin Entertainment-produced fantasy The House With a Clock in Its Walls. It earned $12.5m in its second weekend.
Night School, in which Hart plays a man who returns to his high school to get his GED certificate(Haddish plays his teacher), fared poorly with critics, earning a 30 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But the draw of Hart and Haddish was enough to supersede bad reviews. This is Hart’s 11th no. 1 film.