By Brian Fuson | Thompson on Hollywood March 18, 2012 at 12:55PM
Sony’s “21 Jump Street” took a seat at the head of the class at the North American box office as the re-imagined buddy-comedy racked up a hefty $35 million on its first weekend in theaters. The debut for the Jonah Hill-Channing Tatum bromance, which was inspired by the 1980s television series that launched Johnny Depp’s career, was towards the high end of pre-release tracking. The opening for “Jump Street” was the biggest debut weekend for a non-summer, non-sequel R-rated comedy, topping the $32.7 million generated by Warner Bros.’ “Due Date” in 2010.
Columbia Pictures and MGM co-produced the $42-million R-rated picture. “Jump Street” scored a moderate CinemaScore of “B,” but combined with a solid 87% fresh rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, that should be enough to propel Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's film into the black.
The audience skewed slightly male (53%) and reached a broad age group with a 50/50 split between those older, who presumably knew the TV series, and younger than 25. “It was definitely beyond our expectations,” said Rory Bruer, President of worldwide distribution for Sony. “The movie had everything going for it, including an incredible chemistry between Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, great reviews and great exits."
The debut proved to be the biggest to date for Hill in a film where he was one of the leads, topping Sony’s “Superbad” with $33.1 million, which went on to gross $121.5 million. Hill’s last film was the ill-fated “The Sitter” which opened to $9.9 million and topped out at $30.4 million; preceded by a dramatic supporting turn in “Moneyball” for which Hill was nominated for an Oscar (total: $75.6 million); and “Get Him to the Greek” with a $17.6 million debut and a $61 million cume.
For Tatum it marked his third best opening, behind Paramount’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” with $54.7 million ($150.2 million cume), and Sony’s “The Vow’s” $41.2 million debut. “Vow” has collected $121.1 million so far and was still ranked in the top 12 this weekend. Needless to say Tatum is having a good year, with more ("G.I. Joe: Retaliation" and "Magic Mike") still to come.
Universal’s “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” continued to pull in solid numbers as the CG animated feature placed second with an estimated $22.8 million, down a modest 41% in its third frame, while advancing its cume to a stellar $158.4 million. With “Lorax” doing so well at the boxoffice, Universal and Illumination Entertainment will be tackling another Seuss title in the near future, the classic “Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat,” but this time it will be in the 3-D CG-animated format, as opposed to the live-action treatment the last time that title was adapted (disappointingly) to film.
Disney’s “John Carter” dropped into the third spot this weekend. With an estimated gross of $13.5 million and a drop of a steep 55% from its opening, the big budget sci-fi actioner has picked up an estimated $53.2 million after 10 days in release in North America. This is not a strong hold for a movie that opened soft and cost $250 million. Some forecasts for the domestic total are as low as $85 million. (There could be fall-out for Disney's current management.)
Making an appearance in the top 10 this weekend was Lionsgates’ “Casa De Mi Padre,” with an estimated $2.2 million from 382 theaters, averaging a modest $5,759 per theater. The comedy spoof, starring Will Ferrell, is about a Mexican ranch family that gets caught up in a drug war. The picture, developed by Ferrell’s Gary Sanchez Productions and financed by Nala Films for around $6 million, is released by Lionsgate's Pantelion Films, a partnership between Lionsgate and Televisa.
Overall, the boxoffice in North America was down nearly 6% from the comparable frame in 2010, marking the first down weekend of 2012, as compared with last year. The estimated total for all films this weekend was $108 million, and was $114.8 million last year. Contributing to that drop, the comparable session a year ago had three new wide releases hit the market, which helped, and this weekend’s NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament drew away some potential moviegoers as well.