Book vs Book vs Book – Hunger Games Eviscerated, by Steve Harvey and Nichol
By John Hamann
April 22, 2012
And I thought the printed word was dead. After uber-bestseller The Hunger Games dominated the box office for four consecutive weekends (the longest streak since Avatar), it is only appropriate that two other bestsellers – a romance from Nicholas Sparks and a self-help book from Steve Harvey – dethroned the champ. Also, an important lesson was learned again at the box office: White males aged 18-35 aren't the only demographic that go to movies.
Our number one film of the weekend, despite being out to only 2,015 venues, is Think Like A Man. The Screen Gems release earned a massive, and completely unexpected $33 million, and had a fantastic venue average of $16,377, due to that small screen count. The masters of the small budget/big return, Screen Gems has done it again with Think Like A Man, spending only $12 million to make a film, and finding real dollar profit, likely after only seven days of release. A movie like Think Like A Man doesn't have the huge costs that a film like The Hunger Games did. Marketing was targeted and direct (cheap), and a tight venue count (likely urban centers) enabled those marketers to focus their efforts. The marketing worked very well, as Screen Gems is going to quickly realize a tidy profit from Steve Harvey and Think Like A Man – likely at least a $75 million domestic gross against that tiny, $12 million budget.
For those not in the know, this is a romantic comedy from director Tim Story, who broke into the scene in a big way with Barbershop, the $12 million comedy/drama that took in $75 million (and kept MGM in business for a few more months) in 2002. Story went on to direct some massive turds, including Taxi with Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah, and those excruciatingly bad Fantastic Four movies (which earned a combined half-billion worldwide). Tim Story thankfully moved back in his history to Think Like A Man, the movie based on Steve Harvey's non-fiction self-help book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy and Commitment. Despite that title, this was a 2009 bestseller, and the book was used in the film as a plot device, as the characters read the self-help book and use Harvey's advice in their relationships.
The real star of the show, though, is Screen Gems, a studio that is always known for tight budgets with decent (but not excessive) grosses. Most recently, Screen Gems found success with The Vow, the Rachel McAdams/Channing Tatum romance that cost the studio $30 million to make before returning $124.3 million in domestic ticket sales. The list goes on forever, but includes titles like Easy A, a film that cost $8 million to make and earned $58.4 million at the domestic box office; The Exorcism of Emily Rose, a Laura Linney/Tom Wilkinson horror drama that cost $19 million and made $75 million; and Dear John, the Amanda Seyfried/Channing Tatum romance that cost $25 million and made $80 million. This list goes on forever, as Screen Gems made hay with the cheap horror phase that Hollywood went through in the early 2000s. Think Like a Man is just another profitable title the studio can add to their resume.