Ironically, Adam Sandler’s biggest box office successes are not from a series based on the actor’s expanding Happy Madison Sandlerverse films.
Adam Sandler has appeared in a number of financially successful films over the years, but his most successful franchise, the Hotel Transylvania films, is not a Sandlerverse property. Since its inception in 2012 with the critically panned yet financially profitable Hotel Transylvania, the Hotel Transylvania franchise has grown to be the most lucrative property on blockbuster comedy star/occasional indie darling Adam Sandler’s lengthy screen resume.
Sandler is no stranger to family-friendly satire, with both the Grown-Ups and Bedtime Stories franchises doing well at the box office (even though 2015’s Pixels flopped miserably). However, the actor is best known for his Sandlerverse films, which feature a cast of familiar actors, an outlandish sound, scatological humor, and a fictional universe.
Despite the fact that the Hotel Transylvania trilogies have amassed over a billion in box office earnings, they are not true Sandlerverse films. The Sandlerverse’s films vary in tone from the surreal to the grounded, but still very silly and occasionally crude Drew Barrymore rom-coms The Wedding Singer, 50 First Dates, and Blended. All of them, however, feature recurring characters, roles for Sandler’s real-life friends, and a distinct sweet-but-gross sense of humor not found in the Hotel Transylvania films (which do feature small roles for David Spade and Kevin James, but not the rest of Sandler’s consistent production posse). However, given that Sandler has often been accused of behaving robotically in his latest Sandlerverse films, it’s understandable that this more ambitious animated franchise has received a warm reception in comparison to his lower-effort comedies.
The Sandlerverse’s financial success and critical reception have been mixed, with Happy Gilmore being a critically acclaimed cult classic but recent addition Hubie Halloween being widely derided by critics. In this respect, Hotel Transylvania is comparable, as the first film received mixed reviews but performed well at the box office, while the subsequent sequels received mixed reviews but consistently satisfied viewers. Although the visually imaginative animation in the Hotel Transylvania series may explain why it has outperformed the Sandlerverse’s cinematic outings financially, there is another explanation for the family films’ enduring success.
Sandler’s Sanderlverse films are widely agreed to have degraded in quality around the mid-’00s, with many fans claiming that the actor’s post-50 First Dates fared poorly in comparison to his earlier efforts. By comparison, the Hotel Transylvania series’ lush, fast-paced animation, silly genre parodies, and overall inventiveness seem to have reignited the aging Sandler. Sandler has been accused of phoning in his performances in romcoms with interchangeable jokes in recent years, from Blended to Just Go With It to Murder Mystery, but despite rumors that he sleepwalks through these lesser Netflix outings, he has lit up for more interesting fare such as Uncut Gems, Top Five, and the Hotel Transylvania franchise. According to the box office, whatever piques Sandler’s curiosity elicits a strong response from his fans.