By Amy Kaufman
1:27 PM EDT, April 18, 2013
LAS VEGAS -- Here, in the place where his comedy franchise "The Hangover" began four years ago, Todd Phillips seems particularly at home.
While the filmmaker wasn't nearly as inebriated as the protagonists of his raunchy film series, he admitted he was drunk on his second bottle of wine as he sat promoting his film in the bowels of the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Wednesday.
It had been only an hour before that when Phillips jumped on stage to show movie theater owners the latest trailer for "The Hangover Part III," freely using expletives and urging the crowd to loosen up.
"Way to turn a ... movie presentation into the Detroit auto show," he kidded after the Warner Bros. presentation.
With just over a month until his film's Memorial Day weekend release, Phillips insisted he's not anxious about topping the massive success of the last two films, which grossed a collective total of more than $1 billion worldwide.
"If you look at the third movies of comedy trilogies -- 'Rush Hour,' 'Meet the Parents,' 'Austin Powers' -- honest to God, those movies tend to drop in their third film," Phillips said. "They lose 20% of their audience. So we're aware of that."
There's more at stake this time around, however: Phillips said his latest film cost $103 million to produce -- up from $72 million for the second picture. "Everyone got paid," he said. "And that's life."
Plus, the movie is opening against another massively popular franchise -- "Fast & Furious 6," which also appeals to the "Hangover" audience of young male moviegoers. Still, the filmmaker remained confident that his third installment will be able to hold its own against Universal's action flick.
"I think people will go to the movies twice in five days," he said. "Ninety-nine percent of the people in the world don't think about it and just say, 'Hey, I'm gonna go see this Vin Diesel movie tonight and Sunday let's go check out 'Hangover III.' I think there's enough out there for both. Whatevs."
However the film ends up faring, Phillips promises there will be no more "Hangover" installments.
"We're moved on," he said. "I think it's going to be one of the greatest comedy trilogies ever. I think in 10 years people will look back and understand why the second one was genius." (Though the second film grossed an impressive $581.5 million globally in 2011, it was panned by critics.)
Meanwhile, Phillips said his life has changed dramatically since the original's 2009 release: He flew to Vegas on a private jet, courtesy of Warner Bros., now counts "Hangover" star Bradley Cooper as one of his best friends, and even gets offered free drugs.
"People are always putting drugs in my pocket. You meet people and you come home and you have cocaine in your pocket," he said. "I'm like, 'I have to get on a plane.' But I'm very careful, and I don't do drugs."
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