Weekend Box Office

Box Office Guru Wrapup: 21 Jump Street Shoots to #1 with $35M

by | March 19, 2012 | Comments

Odd couple Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill had North American moviegoers rolling in the aisles as their action-comedy remake 21 Jump Street debuted at number one with a terrific opening. No other film premiered in wide release and the overall marketplace fell below 2011 levels for the first time all year.

Sony scored a top spot debut with its undercover cop comedy 21 Jump Street which opened with an estimated $35M from 3,121 theaters for a muscular $11,214 average. It was the second biggest opening ever for an R-rated comedy outside of the prime summer season trailing only Jackass 3D which bowed to $50.4M in October 2010 helped by being a sequel and having extra ticket surcharges. It was the second impressive number one hit for Tatum in as many months following February’s PG-13 romance hit The Vow which bowed to $41.2M. The actor-producer is on his way to enjoying back-to-back $100M+ grossers this spring. The slimmed-down Hill stumbled in December anchoring The Sitter, but he earned plenty of respect recently with his performance and Oscar nomination for Moneyball starring opposite another box office hunk in Brad Pitt.

A loose update on the 1980s television series which launched Johnny Depp’s career, Jump Street attracted a broad audience as males made up 53% of the crowd while those under and over 25 were evenly split. Critics and audiences were divided, though, as reviews were remarkably positive while the CinemaScore grade was only a B. Plus Saturday sales were off 2% so the film’s legs may not be as good as reviews would suggest. And with the box office juggernaut The Hunger Games ready to strike on Friday in more than 4,000 theaters, the cop pic will have its work cut out for it next weekend. Produced for $42M, 21 Jump Street will still turn a nice profit regardless of its overseas performance and could prompt a sequel. In a year overflowing with action hits, it was the first live-action studio comedy to truly attract a large turnout.

Universal’s smash hit 3D toon The Lorax delivered strong results in its third weekend grossing an estimated $22.8M for second place. The Dr. Seuss pic faced no new competition for families and dropped by an acceptable 41% lifting the 17-day cume to a robust $158.4M which was enough to surpass the $154.5M final of 2008’s 2D animated crowdpleaser Horton Hears a Who which boasted better starpower with the voices of Jim Carrey and Steve Carell. Lorax is now running a healthy 35% ahead of Horton and is on its way to breaking the $200M domestic mark. Only three March releases have ever managed to cross the double-century barrier – Alice in Wonderland, How To Train Your Dragon, and 300.

Fans of the mega-budgeted sci-fi epic John Carter were hoping that good word-of-mouth would lead to a solid sophomore hold, but that wasn’t the case. Disney’s pricey investment suffered a 55% tumble to an estimated $13.5M giving the effects-driven 3D pic $53.2M after ten days. The drop was in line with past spring action vehicles like 300 (54%), 10,000 B.C. (53%), and Clash of the Titans (57%). Should Carter play out in a similar way it could end its domestic run a bit above the $80M mark which would be disappointing given the mammoth production cost of over $250M plus the lavish marketing push. Overseas, holdover markets saw significant declines as the weekend brought in an estimated $40.7M from 54 territories with bows in three new markets including China. That represented an overall drop of 42% from last weekend however holdover markets averaged larger declines than that. The Mars pic has now collected $126.1M internationally and $179.3M across the planet we refer to as Earth. Reaching a final global total of $375M will be very hard which is unfortunate for the studio since roughly that amount was spent to produce and market the film.

The rest of the top ten was filled with aging titles falling into the $2-4M range. With Channing and Jonah taking away young adults looking for wild fun, the found-footage hit Project X tumbled 64% in its third round to an estimated $4M for Warner Bros. Enjoying a surprisingly good hold was Eddie Murphy’s latest comedy flop A Thousand Words which declined by only 39% to an estimated $3.8M. Paying audiences liked the film better than critics who panned the Paramount release. With $12.1M in ten days, the final gross for Words will still end up at a dismal level with roughly $22M.

Close behind with an estimated $3.7M was the military actioner Act of Valor which fell 47% raising the total to an impressive $62.4M for Relativity. Universal’s CIA hit Safe House took in an estimated $2.8M, off 43%, giving the Denzel Washington movie $120.2M to date. Grossing an estimated $2.5M was another action hit, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, which slipped only 32% for a $95.1M haul for Warner Bros. The worldwide haul has now surpassed $300M.

Will Ferrell’s Spanish-language Mexsploitation comedy Casa De Mi Padre attracted solid business in its limited debut and found itself in ninth place for the weekend despite playing in just 382 theaters nationwide. The Lionsgate release averaged an encouraging $5,759 per location although Saturday saw no growth over Friday’s opening day tally. Reviews were not very positive but a decent number of moviegoers came out for something different.

Rounding out the top ten was the action-romance This Means War which dropped 43% to an estimated $2.1M. Fox has banked $50.5M to date.

In limited release, Jason Segal’s R-rated comedy Jeff Who Lives at Home was met with a dull response from audiences as the Paramount release collected just $840,000, according to estimates, from 254 theaters for a lackluster $3,307 average. Reviews were upbeat but moviegoers just didn’t see a reason to pay top dollar to see this one right away.

Elsewhere, CBS Films enjoyed a good expansion for its cross-cultural tale Salmon Fishing in the Yemen which widened from 18 to 62 locations in its second weekend grossing an estimated $455,000. Averaging a solid $7,339, the well-reviewed film upped its sum to $763,000. Also, critically-acclaimed Cannes Grand Jury Prize winner The Kid with a Bike platformed very well with an estimated $51,000 from only three arthouses for a superb $17,000 average for IFC Films.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $92.3M which was down 7% from last year when Limitless opened in the top spot with $18.9M; and down 17% from 2010 when Alice in Wonderland remained at number one in its third round with $34.2M.

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