The studios have skewed their summer releases around the World Cup, which is taking a bite out of the box office. So this weekend's new releases are aimed at domestic audiences; two films are likely to do more than the usual amount of their business in the U.S.
The result was a mixed bag. Leading the pack was Tim Story's "Think Like a Man Too," with breakout star Kevin Hart. The movie is the first film with both an African-American director and lead cast to attain that ranking in the key May-July playtime since "Bad Boys 2" in 2003 (despite the strong play of similar films throughout the year). That's partly because the studios usually pencil in wide international appeal films during this time period.
The other new film, Clint Eastwood's "Jersey Boys," had a disappointing showing, with only a small Saturday uptick, to rank only #4. The period musical's core older audience -- prominent in the success of many recent films -- may have been distracted by other summertime activities.
With the lack of any big new films, overall grosses among the Top 10 plummeted from the same weekend last year by $140 million against last 2013's $232 million. The release calendar gets most of the blame. Next weekend the industry will heave sighs of relief as"Transformers: Age of Extinction" pops a huge number. No film since "Catching Fire" last November has opened to over $100 million. Can "Transformers" do it? (Variety review here.)
1. "Think Like a Man Too" (Sony) - Cinemascore: A-; Criticwire: C+; Metacritic: 37
$30,000,000 in 2,225 theaters; PSA (per screen average): $13,483,000; Cumulative: $30,000,000
Scoring the top spot but falling short of the first weekend for the original "Think" ($33.6 million) this replicated most of the elements of the first ensemble-cast comedy, but with Kevin Hart now front and center after his rise in popularity. This relatively small number for a top ranked film (it looks like it is the lowest for a prime summer release weekend at #1 since 2003) is playing on fewer screens that any prime summer #1 film since "Fahrenheit 9/11" in 2004. With most top films showing on 3-4,000 screens, the high PSA is more relevant than the actual gross.
This is another big grosser this month coming outside of the usual seasonal audience base, which should help remind the studios to think out of the box. African-American and female-centric films can be a success sometime other than King's Birthday, Easter or late August.
This Screen Gems production (generally the lower budget entity at Sony) cost about double the first film, somewhere in the mid-20s. Even earning most of its gross in the U.S., this already looks headed toward profit. That makes four hits out of the last five for Sony, which struggled last summer (the one not getting in the black, "Moms' Night Out," cost only $5 million). This has come from a variety of films, with only "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" costing hundreds of millions.
This is director Tim Story's sixth #1 film out of seven wide releases in his resume -- an impressive achievement. Though it falls short of "Ride Along" earlier this year (also with Hart -- that opened to $41 million, with a wider crossover audience), this confirms that he is one of the most reliable hitmakers in Hollywood today.
What comes next: Both the first "Think" and "Ride Along" fell nearly 50% their second weekends, so anything close to that will be a good sign.
2. "22 Jump Street" (Sony) Week 2 - Last weekend #1
$29,000,000 (-49%) in 3,306 theaters (unchanged); PSA: $8,772; Cumulative: $111,450,000
"21 Jump Street," which opened about a fourth below "22"'s initial weekend, dropped 44% its second weekend on its way to an eventual $138 million gross. With this only slightly bigger drop, and a gross already over $110 million, this looks to easily outpace the original's domestic take. And with a modest $50 million budget (impressively only slightly above the first film) and with most of foreign ahead (though likely to be lower than at home) this should be another Sony summer hit. Curious fact: star Jonah Hill's previous R-rated film, which co-starred Leonardo DiCaprio rather than Channing Tatum, managed to get to $117 million domestic (though much bigger overseas).
What comes next: This has a shot at maintaining its #2 position next weekend.