With its affable cast and broadly-appealing battle-of-the-sexes premise, Think Like a Man easily took the top spot at the box office this weekend ahead of The Lucky Oneand four-time champ The Hunger Games. In fourth place,Chimpanzee exceeded expectations and set a few minor records. Overall, the Top 12 earned an estimated $123.3 million this weekend, which is a very slight improvement over the same frame last year.
Think Like a Man opened to an estimated $33 million from just 2,015 theaters. The movie's $16,377 per-theater average is third-highest for a nationwide release so far this year behind The Hunger Games ($36,871) and The Lorax ($18,830) and significantly above huge hits like The Vow, Safe House and 21 Jump Street. Its opening was also better than nearly all comparable titles, including allTyler Perry movies except Madea Goes to Jail ($41 million). Finally, it topped 2009's Obsessed ($28.6 million) to become Screen Gems' highest opener ever targeting African-American audiences (overall, it's their second-best opening ever behind The Vow).
In hindsight, the initial success of Think Like a Manshouldn't be all that surprising. The marketing suggested that the movie had successfully developed an entertaining story built around Steve Harvey's popular self-help bookAct Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, which made it an enticing option for the millions of people who have already read the book (Lionsgate, the distributor of next month'sWhat to Expect When You're Expecting, is probably watching this movie's performance very closely). Since the book is clearly geared towards women, the movie's audience wound up overwhelmingly female (63 percent) and also skewed much older (62 percent over 30 years of age). Coming out of Friday's screenings, the movie had an "A" CinemaScore, which went up to an "A+" among men and those under the age of 25.
So far, Sony is having a pretty great year. The studio has released four number one movies, which is more than any other studio (Universal has three). Its Screen Gems label accounts for three of these, including Think Like a Man, The Vow ($124.3 million to date) and Underworld Awakening (the highest-grossing Underworld movie at home and abroad). 21 Jump Street is also a huge hit with $127 million and counting. The studio has so far earned $455 million, and should be close to the half-billion-dollar mark before the Summer movie season starts. Considering they have MIB 3, That's My Boy and The Amazing Spider-Man coming out in the next three months, the gravy train isn't likely to slow down anytime soon.
The Lucky One opened in second place with an estimated $22.8 million. That's the second-best start for a Nicholas Sparks movie behind 2010's Dear John ($30.5 million), and the movie did manage to sell more tickets than The Notebook. For star Zac Efron, The Lucky One was a bit off from 17 Again ($23.7 million), but was a massive improvement over Charlie St. Cloud ($12.4 million).
With the enduring popularity of The Notebook and the recent success of Dear John, The Lucky One was lucky to come out at a time when the Nicholas Sparks brand is as strong as ever. That's not to take away any credit from Efron, though, who was obviously the center of the marketing effort. The movie's strong start indicates that Charlie St. Cloud's disappointing performance was less about Efron and more about that movie's unappealing story. Put Efron in something with a clear premise like The Lucky One and his core audience will turn out. Unsurprisingly, his audience is overwhelmingly young (52 percent under the age of 25) and female (76 percent). That group awarded the movie an "A-" CinemaScore, though it dropped to a "B+" across all moviegoers.
Facing direct competition from The Lucky One, The Hunger Games miraculously had its lightest drop yet. The movie eased 32 percent to an estimated $14.5 million, which brings its total to $356.9 million (19th on the all-timelist). Through 31 days in theaters, The Hunger Games is only trailing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 by less than $500,000, and is currently on pace to close above that movie's $381 million total.
Even though it had to settle for fourth place, Chimpanzee got off to a great start for a documentary. In fact, its estimated $10.2 million was the best three-day start for a Disneynature movie, and also the best debut for a nature documentary ever. Among all documentaries, it ranked third behind Justin Bieber: Never Say Never ($29.5 million) and Fahrenheit 9/11 ($23.9 million). Audiences gave the movie a strong "A" CinemaScore, though that doesn't necessarily mean it will hold up that well after Earth Day.
The Three Stooges was probably hurt a bit by Chimpanzee's above-average performance—the Farrelly Brothers adaptation fell 46 percent to an estimated $9.2 million. To-date, the movie has earned $29.4 million.
The Cabin in the Woods dipped 47 percent to an estimated $7.75 million. That's a very strong hold for a horror comedy that received a terrible "C" CinemaScore last weekend, which seems to indicate that word-of-mouth wound up better than expected. Still, that hold is nowhere close to Insidious's gold standard 29 percent second weekend drop from last April. Through 10 days, the Joss Whedon production has earned just shy of $27 million.