After two straight weeks of "The Lorax" dominating the box office, it looks like action-comedy "21 Jump Street" should finally take over as the number one draw in the U.S this weekend. With no other wide releases, "21 Jump Street" should ride the popularity of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum to appeal to the younger adult demographic, the key to success for R-rated comedies like "Superbad" and "Knocked Up." Will Ferrell's "Casa De Mi Padre" is also opening this weekend, though with very discouraging buzz and a minimal 350-theater release it will have a hard time squeezing into the top ten.
If we can put aside the disastrous "The Sitter" from last year, Jonah Hill has been in a steady stream of popular releases in a variety of genres, and now he even has an Oscar nomination for "Moneyball" on his resume. But even though it was nice to see that Hill has a little range, he's at his best when he's playing wacky characters in adult-geared mainstream comedies, making him the perfect fit to headline a big screen version of "21 Jump Street."
On the other side of the marketing posters is Channing Tatum, who is having a pretty good year already after "The Vow" became somewhat of a box office phenomenon. While Hill should be able to bring in the male audiences that remember him from "Superbad," Tatum's popularity with female moviegoers makes this one more than just a guy flick.
Not only does "21 Jump Street" seem to have the right two guys atop the cast, early critical buzz has also been surprisingly good and adult audiences might be swayed into thinking that this one is more than your average high school comedy. With an easy to sell high concept and no real competition, "21 Jump Street" seems to have the momentum to easily top the box office and possibly even put together one of the biggest R-rated openings of the year.
With only "21 Jump Street" opening in wide release, the door should be open for "The Lorax" to put together yet another big weekend. "The Lorax" is already past $130 million domestically and continues to resonate with family audiences, even outdueling "John Carter" last weekend despite an aggressive marketing campaign from Disney. "The Lorax" should finish in the $20 million range this weekend as it steamrolls towards the $200 million domestic benchmark.
After a rough opening weekend, "John Carter" at least has the advantage of no direct new competition, but that probably won't be enough for it to turn around what has been a very disappointing first week in theaters. With a $250 million production budget, "John Carter" cost more than "The Lorax," "The Vow" and "Safe House" combined, yet it has seen a fraction of the ticket sales of any of the three. "John Carter" is at least putting up some solid foreign totals, though it has a long way to go before it can be anything but a commercial bust.
While "21 Jump Street" should take a huge chunk of the adult demographic, Will Ferrell's comedy "Casa De Mi Padre" might find a little success in a limited release, but it looks like its commercial potential is extremely limited. Considering that most Ferrell comedies open in the 3,000-theater range, a 350-venue launch isn't exactly a vote of confidence from distributor Lionsgate, setting the stage for a very brief theatrical run. Landing in the bottom portion of the top ten or just off is probably all that "Casa De Mi Padre" can hope for this weekend.
Next weekend, we'll see if the massively popular book series "The Hunger Games" can translate to the big screen, as Lionsgate gets set to launch its prospective action franchise starring Jennifer Lawrence. The month will wrap the following weekend with the launching of Snow White revision "Mirror, Mirror" and big-budget sequel "Wrath of the Titans."
RTT Box Office Predictions for 3/16/12 - 3/18/12 (In Millions):
1. 21 Jump Street (Sony/Columbia): $38
2. The Lorax (Universal): $21
3. John Carter (Disney): $14.5
4. Project X (Warner Brothers): $6
5. Act of Valor (Relativity): $3.5
6. Silent House (Open Road Films): $3.3
7. A Thousand Words (Paramount): $2.9
8. Safe House (Universal): $2.8
9. The Vow (Sony/Screen Gems): $2.3
10. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (Warner Brothers): $1.8
by RTT Staff Writer
For comments and feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org