It had to happen. After four weeks of dominance, The Hunger Games finally didn’t finish first at the box office.
Instead, the relationship comedy Think Like a Man took the crown as it debuted to an impressive $33 million this weekend. Based on comedian Steve Harvey’s bestselling advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the PG-13 film performed much better than expected. (Although I predicted the movie would win the weekend, I thought it would do so with a moderate $19 million.)
Think Like a Man was produced for just $13 million by Sony-owned Screen Gems, which was also behind two other pictures that premiered at No. 1 this year: The Vow and Underworld Awakening. The studio’s marketing campaign targeted African American audiences via appearances on Harvey’s morning show, screenings at historically black universities, and special promotions on networks like BET.
The effort clearly paid off. For instance, Think Like a Man, which was directed by Tim Story (Fantastic Four), opened stronger than all of Tyler Perry’s movies except Madea Goes to Jail. And like Perry’s films, the movie skewed toward adult women, with 63 percent of the audience being female and 62 percent at least 30 years old. It received an excellent “A” rating from CinemaScore audiences.
In second was the PG-13 romance The Lucky One with $22.8 million. That’s a return to form for star Zac Efron, as the movie performed more like 17 Again ($23.7 million) than Charlie St. Cloud ($12.4 million).
It’s also a solid showing for author Nicholas Sparks — the only Sparks adaptation that opened stronger was 2010’s Dear John ($30.5 million). Despite unfavorable reviews, the $25 million movie earned a respectable “B+” grade from CinemaScore participants. Young women represented the majority of the film’s audience, with 76 percent of ticket buyers being female and 52 percent under the age of 25.
Chimpanzee, Disney’s fourth annual Earth Day nature documentary, captured a solid $10.2 million — enough for fourth place. That’s the biggest opening weekend among the four Disneynature pictures, beating Earth, Oceans, and last year’s African Cats. (However, it’s not an entirely fair comparison since Earth opened on a Wednesday.) As was the case with Think Like a Man and The Lucky One, the movie drew a predominately female crowd — women made up 68 percent of the audience. And CinemaScore moviegoers gave Chimpanzee an overall “A” rating.
On a curious note, 5 percent of CinemaScore participants said a main reason for attending the film was its “lead actor.” Were they referring to the film’s two lead apes? Or narrator Tim Allen? Even stranger, 1 percent listed “lead actress” as their reason for buying a ticket — and that 1 percent gave the movie a harsh “B-” grade. Clearly those individuals were upset by the documentary’s lack of actresses.
Among holdovers, The Hunger Games slipped just 31 percent — its smallest decline yet — for $14.5 million, pushing its domestic tally to $356.9 million. The sci-fi thriller crossed $350 million on Saturday, reaching the milestone in 30 days. Only seven other movies have ever passed that mark in less time. And in fifth place, the PG-rated comedy The Three Stooges dropped 46 percent for $9.2 million.
In limited release, the critically acclaimed music documentary Marley debuted to $260,000 at 42 locations for a sturdy per-theater average of $6,190. And the Lawrence Kasdan comedy Darling Companion, starring Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline, picked up $46,300 at four locations.
1. Think Like a Man — $33.0 mil
2. The Lucky One — $22.8 mil
3. The Hunger Games — $14.5 mil
4. Chimpanzee — $10.2 mil
5. The Three Stooges — $9.2 mil