By Brian Fuson | Thompson on Hollywood April 22, 2012 at 1:00PM
For the first time in five weeks Lionsgate's “The Hunger Games” did not land the top spot at the box office in North America. Screen Gems' ensemble comedy “Think Like A Man” stole that crown with a better than expected debut estimated at $33 million--with the lowest theater count of the top three films (2,015), averaging a stellar $16,377 per theater.
The year has been a good one for the specialty label as the finish marked the third time Screen Gems had a film open at number one, and the fourth for Sony.
Heading into the weekend, most observers predicted that “Think Like A Man" and Warner Bros.’ “The Lucky One” would take in around $20 million each, but both films exceeded those marks. “Lucky One,” a romantic drama starring Zac Efron, arrived with an estimated $22.8 million to place second.
Even the weekend’s third new wide release topped expectations as Disney’s “Chimpanzee” swung into the fourth slot with an estimated $10.2 million, while most projections had the film debuting with $8 million or less.
But even with the frame’s better than anticipated individual performances, the weekend overall couldn’t push past the comparable session last year when the animated “Rio” was the top film with $26.3 million, as the total boxoffice for all films was $129 million, down 5% from a year earlier.
The PG-13 rated “Think Like A Man” was based on the bestselling relationship self-help advice book by comedian Steve Harvey, “Act Like A Lady, Think Like a Man.” The story is about four interconnected and diverse men whose love lives are shaken up when the women that they are with start reading Steve Harvey’s book and put it into practice. The result was "well beyond our wildest dreams," said Rory Bruer, President of Worldwide Distribution for Sony.
The $13-million urban comedy from director Tim Story stars Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, and Taraji P. Henson. The film is already into profit on its first weekend at the boxoffice, a rare accomplishment. "Think Like A Man” appealed mostly to African-Americans age 18-49, and females comprised 63% of the audience, while 62% were 30 years of age and over. The film generated an A CinemaScore from moviegoers, and a low 50% positive grade from critics, but moviegoers buy the tickets so “Think Like A Man” should have some nice legs down the road.
$25-million “Lucky One” (PG-13) was also based on a book, the novel by Nicholas Sparks. The Scott Hicks romantic drama is about a Marine Iraq War veteran (Zac Efron) who attributes surviving his three tours of duty to a photograph he carried of a woman (Taylor Schilling) he doesn’t know. It's Efron’s best opening since 2009’s “17 Again,” which debuted with $23.7 million. Efron’s previous two films, “New Year’s Eve” and “Charlie St. Cloud,” opened with less than $15 million each.
While Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow's “Lucky One” earned a B+ CinemaScore, the film scored high with its core femme demographic (76% of moviegoers) and those under 18, who gave it a solid A-, besting the critic’s low 21% fresh rating at RottenTomatoes.com. Jeff Goldstein, Executive VP and General Sales Manager for Warner Bros. Goldstein said Efron was far and away the main reason for attending, as 57% of moviegoers attested.
Disney’s G-rated documentary “Chimpanzee” follows a three-year old chimpanzee who is separated from his mother and family group and is raised by a full-grown male. The film earned a strong A from CinemaScore as well as a sterling 77% fresh rating from the critics, which should bode well for the film’s long-term prospects. Tim Allen narrates the film, which was directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield.
“Hunger Games” dropped into the third spot with an estimated $14.5 million, taking its cume to a mammoth $356.9 million after five weekends in North America. It's now the 19th box office performer of all-time.