21 Jump Street may be the only new release this weekend, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have competition.
By Kim Hollis
March 16, 2012
If you're in your 20s, you're probably not going to remember or even have an awareness that 21 Jump Street was once a pretty swell TV show that starred Johnny Depp. It aired on the (then brand-new) Fox network starting in 1987, and centered around a group of cops who were youthful looking enough that they were assigned undercover work in high schools and colleges. Although Depp had previously starred in the original Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), it was 21 Jump Street that splashed his face (and Richard Grieco's) across the pages of Tiger Beat magazine and the like. The show was was pretty darned good, with an ensemble that worked well together and an idea that drew in the all-valuable younger viewer. Typing all that sure does make me feel old.
Twenty-five years after the first show aired, we now have a reboot/reimagining of the film, starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. The film is put together by the guys who brought us Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but more important, they are also the guys who created Clone High, a short-lived but brilliant animated series about cloned historical figures and their attempts to get along with each other in high school. Although the commercials have been...so-so at best, reviews of the film and word-of-mouth are stellar, which for once might mean that the good jokes are in the movie rather than in the trailer.
As the only new release debuting this weekend, it would seem that the sky is the limit for 21 Jump Street, particularly because it's being marketed out the wazoo and also because people are telling their friends that it's, you know, good. There's just one fly in the ointment, and that fly is the 2012 March Madness Men's Basketball Tournament, a weekend of basketball that has the very targeted audience for 21 Jump Street glued in front of their television sets, watching to see if their brackets will survive or if they'll go straight into the garbage. This is probably the reason that Sony is trying to temper expectations for opening weekend, as they anticipate a three-day total in the mid-20s. Because of all the good buzz, I actually think it's going to have a slightly higher ceiling, though not through the roof or anything. $29 million seems like a pretty reasonable expectation, though a total in the low 30s wouldn't be altogether shocking, either.
That means the remainder of the chart is going to be made up of holdovers, starting with Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, which has been the top film for two weekends in a row. It will be joined by John Carter, which is likely to see a heady fall, Project X, and a bunch of movies that are working their way toward falling off the radar. We're really looking at the calm before the storm of next week's The Hunger Games, which is already tracking toward a three-digit opening and the potential to do something truly historic.