With its broadly-appealing premise, popular lead actors and well-executed marketing campaign, 21 Jump Street cruised in to first place at the box office this weekend ahead of two-time winner The Lorax. Meanwhile, John Carter crashed in its second outing, and Casa De Mi Padre cracked the Top 10 despite opening in less than 400 locations. With only one major new release, though, overall box office was down around four percent from last year, making this the first weekend of 2012 that declined year-over-year. 21 Jump Street opened to $36.3 million from 3,121 locations. That tops Jonah Hill's Superbad ($33.05 million) for highest opening ever for a comedy set in high school. Also, with the exception of Jackass 3-D, 21 Jump Street had the top opening for an R-rated comedy outside of the Summer (May-August).
The marketing for 21 Jump Street was a textbook example of how to sell a movie properly. Early and often, the trailers and commercials clearly laid out the premise, defined the main characters and unleashed a solid number of jokes. It didn't hurt that the movie starred likeable actors Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, and that it was actually pretty good—it generated lots of buzz from word-of-mouth screenings held around the country over the past few months, and it was also well-received by critics (87 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes).
The audience was 53 percent male, which is a fairly low number for an action comedy and suggests that Channing Tatum probably helped draw more women to the theater than would otherwise have attended. Half of the audience was under 25 years of age, and that group awarded the movie an "A" CinemaScore (though across all audience members the movie received a more lukewarm "B" score). Dr. Seuss' The Lorax fell 41 percent to $22.8 million in its third weekend. So far, the animated hit has earned $158.4 million, which is more than the final tally of Horton Hears a Who! ($154.5 million). Through 17 days, the movie is only trailing Despicable Me by around $3 million, and it looks like a foregone conclusion that The Lorax will wind up finishing with over $200 million.
Coming off its disappointing $30.2 million opening last weekend, there was still a chance that John Carter would hold up in the long-run and close above $100 million. That hope was all-but-extinguished this weekend, as the movie plummeted 55 percent to $13.5 million. It has now earned $53.2 million, which trails nearly all comparable titles including Prince of Persia and 10,000 B.C.. Project X succumbed to direct competition from 21 Jump Street this weekend—the found footage party comedy fell 64 percent to just over $4 million. Through 10 days, the movie has made $48.2 million.
With actuals reporting, <b>Act of Valor</b> moved back in to the Top Five for the fourth-straight weekend. The action flick fell 47 percent to $3.7 million for a strong total of $62.5 million. A Thousand Words eased 41 percent to an estimated $3.75 million. That's a much better drop than Silent House, which was off 68 percent to $2.1 million. The two movies have now made a paltry $12 million and $10.6 million, respectively.
Will Ferrell's Spanish-language action comedy Casa De Mi Padre debuted in ninth place with $2.3 million despite only playing at 382 locations. That's not a great start, but it's also a lot better than it could have been given the language barrier and the mild marketing push from Lionsgate/Pantelion. The audience was 51 percent male and 68 percent Hispanic, and Lionsgate is planning to add 25 to 30 new markets (50 or so theaters) in the coming weeks. Friends with Kids expanded to 640 theaters but fell 26 percent to an estimated $1.5 million. The romantic comedy has made $4.23 million through 10 days.
With $855,709 from 254 locations, Jeff, Who Lives at Home fell pretty firmly in to the underachiever category in its opening. For a solid comparison, the Duplass Brothers' last movie Cyrus earned $1.28 million from only 200 locations in its fourth weekend in theaters.
Nicolas Cage continued to drift further toward irrelevance this weekend. His latest action thriller, Seeking Justice, opened to just $249,465 from 231 locations for a terrible per-theater average of $1,080.