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Jonas Brothers come up short at the box office

The pop group’s 3D movie didn’t meet expectations ? what could this mean for the boys’ future?

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Screaming, crying, jumping on chairs…such were the hysterical hallmarks of the Jonas Brothers’ ”surprise” appearances at opening-weekend showings of their Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. But Monday, once the box office was tallied, the real shock set in: Records weren’t shattered; expectations were.

Beat out by the $16.2 million take of Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail, the Brothers came in second with a somewhat disappointing $12.5 million. ”The biggest problem that anyone faces in the concert-movie business is there are no models,” admits Chuck Viane, president of domestic distribution at Disney, which released the film. ”So we were flying a little bit blind.”

Or at least with rose-colored 3-D glasses. The only model to follow was Miley Cyrus’3-D offering last year, Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert, which bowed to a stunning $31 million on 683 screens. Disney went for broke and put The 3D Concert Experience on almost twice as many screens — 1,271 locations in all.

Turns out that scope was unrealistic. Cyrus’ bigger bow was billed as a one-week-only release that came on the heels of a headline-making, sold-out concert tour. Given this, it’s fair to point out that the Jonases did score the second-highest-grossing concert-movie opening of all time (behind Miley, natch).

Their true mettle will be tested this fall with a Disney Channel sitcom and, more important, their summer follow-up to 2008’s breakout album, A Little Bit Longer, which they’re in the studio (hopefully) perfecting. ”The Jonas Brothers are a real band that then segued into movies and TV,” says S-Curve Records’ Steve Greenberg, who discovered both the Jonases and Hanson. ”The question of what one movie does in one random weekend is not really what their career is about.”

True, but that means their next record could be a make-or-break moment. ”It depends on how good the material is over the next year or so, if they have any real longevity or not,” says Michael McCoy, program director at pop station WNCI in Columbus, Ohio. ”You could look back at this in six months and say, ‘It was just another step in their plan for world domination.”’ Or? ”’Maybe it was the beginning of the end.”’ — With additional reporting by Jeremy Medina, Nicole Sperling, and Simon Vozick-Levinson