Apatow v. Ferrell v. Sandler v. Stiller: Who Owns Comedy’s Most Successful Production Company?

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See the photo above? See how friendly Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler look on the left? How chummy Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller appear to be on the right? Well, it’s all a LIE. The four comedians are currently engaged in a Hollywood-style bloodbath, fighting for millions, if not billions, of dollars from movies, TV shows, websites, and KIDS CHOICE AWARDS. Yes, the four men listed above all founded production companies, and they mean war. But who owns the most successful of the four? Is it Zoolander? Ron Burgundy? Little Nicky? A character from a Judd Apatow movie?!? Using the most sophisticated numbers-stuff formula someone who hasn’t taken a math class since 11th grade can handle, I have calculated the winner, based on film budgets and box office grosses, critic ratings, TV and web success, and various other figures.

Let’s meet the contestants, shall we?

Apatow Productions

Founder(s): Judd Apatow

Origin of Company Name: It’s the guy’s last name.

Gary Sanchez Productions

Founder(s): Will Ferrell and Adam McKay

Origin of Company Name: According to Wikipedia, “According to McKay, on the podcast WTF with Marc Maron, the name came from a fake name Ferrell put on his Blackberry. They decided this was a random enough name to give their company.” Sure!

Happy Madison Productions

Founder(s): Adam Sandler

Origin of Company Name: Combines the titles of the first two films Adam Sandler wrote, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore.

Red Hour Productions

Founder(s): Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld

Origin of Company Name: In the first season episode of the original Star Trek, “The Return of the Archons,” Kirk & Co. land on planet Beta III and are told by its inhabitants that the only time they’re not governed by the “lawgivers” is during the Red Hour, when they riot and have wild, kinky (off-screen) sex.

I. The Films (Worldwide Grosses, Rounded Figures from Box Office Mojo)

Apatow Productions

Gary Sanchez Productions

Happy Madison Productions

Note: didn’t include Reign Over Me, a drama; The Shortcut, a direct-to-DVD horror film; and Funny People, which was released on subsidiary Madison 23 Productions.

Red Hour Productions

Note: didn’t include The Ruins, a horror film.

II. The Upcoming Films (2011 and 2012)

Apatow Productions

Wanderlust (February 24, 2012)

Written by David Wain and Ken Marino, Wanderlust chronicles Paul Rudd losing his New York City job, a moving with his wife Jennifer Aniston to join a free-spirited community. With Justin Theroux and Lauren Ambrose.

The Five-Year Engagement (April 27, 2012)

Featuring everyone good ever (Jason Segel, Alison Brie, Emily Blunt, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pratt, Rhys Ifans, Brian Posehn, etc.), in a script written by Segel and Nicholas Stoller, Five-Year Engagement shows the highs and lows of a couple’s relationship, presumably over five years.

This Is Forty (December 21, 2012)

A spin-off from Knocked Up, focusing on Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s characters. With Melissa McCarthy, Megan Fox, John Lithgow, and Jason Segel.

Gary Sanchez Productions

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters (March 2, 2012)

Set 15 years after the Gingerbread House Tragedy, Hansel and Gretel (played by Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton, respectively) now hunt witches.

Southern Rivals (August 10, 2012)

Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell play rival politicians running against one another in South Carolina.

Bachelorette (2012)

Three best friends (Lizzy Caplan, Kirsten Dunst, and Isla Fisher) are asked to be bridesmaids for a woman (Casey Wilson) they use to call “Pigface” in high school. With James Marsden and Adam Scott.

Casa de Mi Padre (2012)

A full-length, in-Spanish telenova mockery starring Will Ferrell, Nick Offerman, and Gael García Bernal could either be one of the year’s funniest comedies, or absolutely awful.

Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (2012)

Tim (Heidecker) and Eric (Warehaim) get $1 billion to make a movie, with Zach Galifianakis, Will Ferrell, Jeff Goldblum, John C. Reilly, and Will Forte.

Happy Madison Productions

Jack & Jill (November 11, 2011)

Jack (played by Adam Sandler) has a happy life, with one exception: his obnoxious sister, Jill (also played by Adam Sandler). Comedy reaches its nadir.

I Hate You, Dad (June 15, 2012)

Adam Sandler moves in with his son (Andy Samberg), right before his kin is about to marry Leighton Meester. The film was partly written by David Wain and Ken Marino (with Happy Endings creator David Caspe), and also stars Susan Sarandon, James Caan, and Vanilla Ice.

Here Comes the Boom (July 29, 2012)

Kevin James becomes a mixed martial arts fighter.

Red Hour Productions

The Big Year (October 14, 2011)

Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson go bird watching, based on the hit book by Mark Obmascik.

Vamps (2011)

Modern-day vampires look for love in New York City, with Alicia Silverstone, Krysten Ritter, Justin Kirk, and Sigourney Weaver, in a screenplay written by Amy Heckerling, who also directed.

Gods Behaving Badly (2012)

Modern-day Greek gods interfere with love in New York City, with Alicia Silverstone, Christopher Walken, Nelsan Ellis, and Edie Falco.

III. The Awards (Wins Only)

Apatow Productions

Note: Walk Hard received Golden Globes nominations for “Best Original Song—Motion Picture” and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy” for John C. Reilly; and Pineapple Express received a Golden Globe nomination for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture—Comedy or Musical” for James Franco.

Gary Sanchez Productions

Happy Madison Productions

Note: Click received an Academy Award nomination for Best Achievement in Makeup.

Red Hour Productions

Note: Tropic Thunder received two Golden Globe nominations, for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Tom Cruise) and “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” (Robert Downey, Jr.), and an Academy Award, for “Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role,” again for Robert Downey, Jr.

IV. The Etc.

Apatow Productions

Although neither show was a commercial hit when they aired on NBC and Fox, or even lasted more than a single season, Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared are two of the most beloved (and greatest) cult sitcoms of the past 20 years. Freaks, in particular, not only launched the acting careers of Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and James Franco, among others; it also introduced the world to Judd Apatow and Paul Feig, who recently directed Bridesmaids. Apatow Production’s third foray into a TV series will be Girls, the upcoming HBO series created by Tiny Furniture’s Lena Dunham, set to premiere some time in 2012.

Gary Sanchez Productions

Gary Sanchez currently has two shows on TV: HBO’s Funny or Die Presents… and Eastbound & Down (which will begin its third and finale season in 2012), and another, Comedy Central’s Big Lake, that recently aired. None of the three are/were massive hits, but they all have their following, particularly the wonderful Eastbound, led by Danny McBride as Kenny Powers. But Sanchez’s biggest “Etc.” contribution is Funny or Die, the comedy video website founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. It receives more than 11 million hits per month.

Happy Madison Productions

Not unlike their going-for-the-lowbrow, achieving-the-lowest-brow film oeuvre, Happy Madison’s TV history is full of shows that mean to make you laugh without wondering why a man talking like a woman is funny. Rules of Engagement, starring Patrick Warburton and David Spade, has aired for five seasons, and soon returns for its sixth on CBS (it’s the pretty much the perfect encapsulation of a “CBS sitcom”). It’s certainly done better than the ill-fated The Gong Show with Dave Attell (eight episodes), and it’s too early to judge the legacy of Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time, which recently had a successful freshman season on Comedy Central. Then there’s Breaking In, a.k.a. the Christian Slater, post-American Idol program, which Fox originally canceled after seven episodes, before the network changed its mind, Family Guy-style, and it will now air season two in 2012.

Red Hour Productions

Well, it’s got the Hulu series Stiller and Meara, but otherwise, Red Hour has mostly dabbled in the film. Last year, though, it was announced Paramount Digital would collaborate with Red Hour to, among other projects, work on an animated Zoolander web series and “Billy Glimmer: Entertainer of the Century,” most successful singing impressionist-comedian in Las Vegas, who would played by Stiller.

Winner: Going into this article, I would have put my money on Happy Madison, mostly because it makes a shit ton of money—but not as much as I would have thought. Adam Sandler’s production company does do quite well at the box office, with an average of $115 million per movie, but it also spends the most per film, too, with $51 million. Using a sophisticated method of subtracting the budget from the box office gross, that’s good for +64. Gary Sanchez and Red Hour total +28 and +60. The winner: Apatow Productions, with +83. Apatow and Red Hour, a.k.a. Tropic Thunder, split the Awards category, because while the former has more awards, the latter has the biggest nomination of any of the four companies, for Robert Downey, Jr.’s role in Tropic Thunder. The winner for the “Etc.” category is also split, this time between Apatow (Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, which are both on TV again and do extremely well with DVD sales, and the upcoming Girls) and Gary Sanchez, because of Eastbound and comedy behemoth Funny or Die. Red Hour is only recently branching out to non-films, and Happy Madison’s track record isn’t critically or commercially successful enough to warrant the win, even if Rules of Engagement is the new According to Jim.

Meaning, the overall winner is: Apatow Productions (whose upcoming movies sound pretty awesome, too, assuming they’re all edited down by about 30 minutes).

Josh Kurp’s favorite films for each contestant: Superbad, The Foot Fist Way, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, and Tropic Thunder