Jump Street Hides Quiet Box Office
By John Hamann
March 18, 2012
With The Hunger Games now only a weekend away, studios shied away from opening big films this frame, as the novel-based tentpole is tracking to open above $100 million next weekend. That means that this weekend, we get early Hunger Games counter-programming in 21 Jump Street, the re-imagining of the '80s TV show redone as a comedy starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. While Jump Street may have jumped this weekend and The Lorax continued to over-perform, the top three films hid a bottom seven that barely earned $20 million. With that knowledge, you can bet on The Hunger Games to be even bigger (hungrier?) next weekend.
The number one film of the weekend is Sony's 21 Jump Street, as Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum went back to school and likely created a franchise. This take on the classic TV show worked for audiences – and surprisingly also for critics – as the $42 million Sony release banked $35 million from its first three days. Released to 3,121 venues, Jump Street had a venue average of $11,214. After opening to $13.1 million on Friday night, Jump Street earned a weekend multiplier of 2.7, which means it played well – and older, due to the R-rating – all weekend. Considering the budget, the R-rating, and converting the TV drama into a big screen comedy, Sony has to be thrilled with the result. It was also a scheduling coup for Sony, as comedy had gone soft at the box office, with the closest competition earning less than $5 million. It should serve as effective counter-programming against the youth-oriented Hunger Games next weekend.
Why did Jump Street work? The cast on this one certainly helped, as Hill has certainly been highlighted in the media since his Oscar nomination for Moneyball, one of the films that deserved the big prize at last month's Oscar ceremony. And with Tatum coming off of the success of The Vow, Jump Street likely had both male and female viewers rooting for it. Critics were also big fans of Jump Street, calling it the funniest film so far this year, and anointing it with 131 positive reviews out of a possible 151 at RottenTomatoes. It earned an 87% fresh rating, and becomes the only film in the top ten with positive reviews. Jump Street is reminiscent of Starsky and Hutch, the Todd Phillips comedy starring Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. That film opened to $28.1 million in March of 2004, but got buried under the second weekend of The Passion of the Christ and never really recovered, finishing with $88.2 million. Jump Street has a much better shot at $100 million, but will have to play through The Hunger Games in weekend two and Wrath of the Titans in weekend three.
Considering Hill hasn't even hit 30 years old yet, this guy has a stellar resume. Hill is from the school of Judd Apatow, as he had small parts in The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up before breaking out in Superbad ($33.1 million opening, $121 million finish). Since then, Hill has appeared in hits like Horton Hears a Who, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, How to Train Your Dragon, Get Him to The Greek, Megamind, and Moneyball, which opened to $19.5 million and brought in $75.6 million stateside. Next up for Hill is Neighborhood Watch, a film from a script by Seth Rogen, co-starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. A good film you may have not seen with Jonah Hill is The Invention of Lying with Ricky Gervais. Hill plays a suicidal young man and is hilarious in a very odd way. Check it out.