After the low-budget comedy American Pie snowballed into a blockbuster hit in 1999, Universal quickly boarded the sequel train, churning out American Pie 2 and American Wedding in two year intervals. Whether the formula was no longer profitable or they were just ready for a break, the trilogy concluded in 2003, inciting a string of direct-to-DVD movies capitalizing on the brand. In the years after, there were only faint rumors hinting at the possible, but not quite probable, return of the theatrical Pie flicks.
Thankfully, the rumors did turn out to be true, with the entire original cast assembling nine years later for this week's American Reunion. The film's marketing has been heavy on the nostalgia factor, but whether fans will turn out for a fourth venture will be determined at the box office. Can American Reunion live up to Pie's past or will it come out of the oven half-baked?
Based on numbers provided by Hollywood.com Box Office Analyst Paul Dergarabedian, American Reunion has an uphill battle to climb to face-off against its predecessors. The original American Pie, reportedly budgeted at $11 million, took home a total of $102 million in the US, $235 million worldwide, when it hit theaters back in '99. The movie struck a chord with audiences going on to become one of the highest grossing R-rated movies of all time. The 2001 sequel was an even bigger hit, taking in $145 million and a global gross of $288 million. But in 2003, the franchise took a dip with American Wedding — "dip" meaning it only grossed $104 million at home, $231 overseas. That's still a huge take for a reasonably budgeted movie (around $55 million thanks to cast paydays). American Reunion could be in the same boat, and with higher ticket prices, could go on to outgross Wedding.
The golden box office number a studio needs to hit for any particular release to be a success isn't a set value, so there's no telling what business would put Reunion in the black. The fact is, as a fourquel (and potential franchise restarter), topping its predecessors is a mark and come this weekend, the staying power of the American Pie brand will be put to the test. Those anxious for American Retirement, keep close watch.