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The legacy of Adam Sandler's 'Happy Madison Productions'

My comedy is different every time I do it. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” – Adam Sandler

American comedian and filmmaker Adam Sandler is known for his comic roles in films like The Wedding Singer as well as critically acclaimed dramatic work in masterpieces like Punch-Drunk Love and Uncut Gems. Despite being the winner of nine Golden Raspberry Awards, Sandler’s films have earned more than $2 billion and have proved to be commercial triumphs. In 1999, the actor formed his own production company to enhance his portfolio and have better control over his projects.

Named ‘Happy Madison Productions’ after two of Sandler’s films, Billy Madison (1995) and Happy Gilmore (1996), the company’s first production was a Rob Schneider film: Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. The old man in the company’s logo is Sandler’s late father, who passed away in 2003. The parent company of the production studio is Happy Madison Inc, run by Sandler’s brother. After the unprecedented success of hit films like The Wedding Singer and The Waterboy in 1998, Sandler had enough financial resources to start his production company as both the films crossed $100 million in revenue at the box office. He partnered up with Hollywood veteran Jack Giarraputo and started Happy Madison Productions, a decision that would define his career.

Since its conception 21 years ago, Happy Madison has produced almost 50 films, but not all of them have starred Sandler. In fact, Rob Schneider has featured in around half of the productions and expressed his gratitude to the actor in an interview, stating: “He’s been nice enough to include me in his gigantic success story.” Apart from Schneider, the likes of David Spade, Kevin James and Chris Rock have starred in many of the films while Sandler appeared in small cameos. Some of the more popular works produced by Happy Madison are films like The House Bunny and The Longest Yard. Sandler’s latest film Hubie Halloween was also a Happy Madison production.

Even though most of the films produced by Sandler’s company have been instantly dismissed by critics, Happy Madison is a huge success when we consider the revenue it has generated. According to reports, in 2020, the company has made around $3.9 billion, and it continues to embark on ventures that are wildly successful from a financial perspective. It is also important to note that all of this success has happened in spite of making four films that are counted among the worst films ever made and having a 0% score from Rotten Tomatoes. One of these works, The Ridiculous 6, broke a record for being the most viewed film in Netflix’s history within the first 30 days of its release. This was part of a 2014 deal with Netflix, and owing to the high profitability of Happy Madison’s productions, Netflix signed a new deal with Sandler in 2020 that was worth around $275 million.

There is no logical explanation for Sandler’s ability to turn uninspired comedy movies into popular hits, but that’s what Happy Madison has continued to do over the years. Before he snubbed for the Academy Award for his brilliant performance in Uncut Gems, Sandler promised in an interview: “If I don’t get it, I’m going to fucking come back and do one again that is so bad on purpose just to make you all pay. That’s how I get them.” Maybe it is more of a comment on the voyeuristic habits of mainstream audiences who respond better to Grown Ups than Sandler’s vulnerable performance in Punch-Drunk Love. For now, it seems like that’s exactly what he is doing. It would be an understatement to say that Sandler is beating a dead horse, but the fact of the matter remains that the rotting carcass is still puking out money.