Before assuming this is going to earn over $40 million, though, it's worth remembering that this Summer's late Thursday numbers have accounted for a disproportionately high percentage of the overall weekend (just last weekend, 22 Jump Street's Thursday number accounted for nearly 10 percent of the weekend gross, which is very high for a comedy). Still, this gross does suggest that Think Like a Man Too should be in line for at least $30 million this weekend.
Forecast: Comedy sequel Think Like a Man Too should take first place at the box office this weekend, while Clint Eastwood's Jersey Boys could wind up outside of the Top 5.
Overall business is going to lag significantly behind the same weekend last year, when Monsters University and World War Z faced off against strong holdover Man of Steel. Those three movies combined for $190 million, which is more than all movies in release will earn this weekend.
Opening at 2,225 locations, Think Like a Man Too arrives around two years after the first Think Like a Man, which was very loosely based on Steve Harvey's best-selling book "Think Like a Man, Act Like a Woman." The battle-of-the-sexes comedy opened to a very strong $33.6 million, and wound up closing north of $91 million. While it was a non-starter overseas (less than $5 million), the domestic haul alone was enough to justify a sequel for this modestly-budgeted comedy.
The main cast of Think Like a Man returns for the sequel, which finds the various couples traveling to Las Vegas for a bachelor/bachelorette weekend. While Vegas has appeared on screen quite a bit in recent years, it's still an appealing prospect to see likeable characters cut loose in sin city. The move to Vegas may also help expand the movie's audience a bit, as the first outing skewed heavily female (63 percent).
The cast has been out promoting the movie aggressively over the past few weeks. Front-and-center is Kevin Hart, who has seen his star rise significantly in the last few years (the movie's trailers and commercials are also focused more around him this time around). Last year, Hart's stand-up movie Let Me Explain earned $32.2 million, which ranks fourth all-time for a stand-up movie. Buddy cop comedy Ride Along then opened to a January record $41.5 million on its way to $134.2 million, making it one of the biggest hits of 2014 so far.
Still, Hart isn't invincible: he couldn't save December's Grudge Match, and February's About Last Night fell short of $50 million. About Last Night is particularly noteworthy because it shared two other cast members with Think Like a Man (Michael Ealy, Regina Hall) and had a similar battle-of-the-sexes vibe.
For now, though, it's worth assuming that About Last Night was an exception: it did have a restrictive "R" rating, and probably opened a bit too close to Ride Along. According to Fandango, Think Like a Man Too is poised to do quite a bit better. As of Thursday morning, it was outselling Ride Along and the original Think Like a Man, which suggests a $40 million debut could be within reach.
If it does wind up over $40 million, that will be the second $40-million-opener of 2014 for director Tim Story (the other being Ride Along). That happened last year for James Wan (The Conjuring, Insidious Chapter 2) and this year for Phil Lord and (The LEGO Movie, 22 Jump Street).
Playing at 2,905 theaters, Jersey Boys is poised to wind up in a distant fourth place (at best). Based on the popular Broadway musical of the same name, the Clint Eastwood-directed movie tells the story of the founding of the band The Four Seasons, which is best-known for songs like "December, 1963," "Sherry," "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," and many more.
The movie's two main selling points—Clint Eastwood, and the Broadway connection—don't have particularly impressive track records at the box office. Eastwood's last six movies in which he does not appear on camera (so excluding Gran Torino) have all failed to earn more than $38 million at the domestic box office.
Meanwhile, for every successful Broadway adaptation (Chicago, Les Miserables) there are a handful of flops (Rock of Ages, Rent, The Producers). All of those flops were popular on stage, but failed to connect with moviegoers upon release. Without any on-camera star power and with a fairly subdued marketing effort, it's likely that Jersey Boys joins the ranks of Broadway disappointments.
One consolation, at least, is that the Jersey Boys is going to have a primarily older audience, which doesn't typically rush out on opening weekend. Even with lukewarm reviews (a bit below 60 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), this should still hold up well over the next month.
Forecast (June 20-22)
1. Think Like a Man Too - $37.5 million
2. How to Train Your Dragon 2 - $29.2 million (-41%)
3. 22 Jump Street - $26.3 million (-54%)
4. Maleficent - $11.3 million (-39%)
5. Jersey Boys - $11 million
6. Edge of Tomorrow - $10.1 million (-39%)
Bar for Success
Think Like a Man Too doesn't need to match its predecessor, but it should be getting close ($30-million-plus). Anything over $15 million would be a win for Jersey Boys.
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• Last Weekend's Report: 'Jump Street' Sequel Scores, 'Dragon' Disappoints
• Last Weekend's Forecast: 'Dragon,' 'Jump Street' Set for Sequel Showdown This Weekend
• Summer 2014 Forecast