`Think Like a Man Too' Gives Sony a Second Straight Crown

“Think Like a Man Too,” a comedy starring Kevin Hart, collected $29.2 million in its opening weekend in theaters to give Sony Corp. (6758) a second No. 1 debut in as many weeks.

The sequel to the 2012 film outdrew “Jersey Boys,” a Clint Eastwood movie about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons that also opened in wide release, Rentrak Corp. (RENT) said in a statement today. The previous weekend’s winner, Sony’s “22 Jump Street,” took in $27.5 million to place second in U.S. and Canadian theaters, while “Jersey Boys” garnered $13.3 million to place fourth for Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s Warner Bros.

“Think Like a Man Too” was buoyed by the box-office power of Hart, who turned a successful comedy routine into starring roles on the big screen. Universal Pictures’ “Ride Along,” in which Hart starred opposite Ice Cube, stayed atop theaters for three weekends this year. Smart scheduling has given Sony two winners from low-budget productions and lifted the studio, which has struggled to match the profitability of competitors.

“Given star Kevin Hart’s ever-increasing box office stature, Sony obviously felt confident enough to make it a summer release,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak, said in an interview. “Kevin Hart is the personification of a box office insurance policy.”

“Think Like a Man Too,” produced for $24 million, according to Box Office Mojo, was projected to receive $34 million in its debut, the forecast of BoxOffice.com. The original movie, also starring Hart, generated $33.6 million in its April 2012 opening and went on to gross $91.5 million domestically.

Summer ‘Antidote’

The new PG-13 comedy again features Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good and Regina Hall, and picks up with the same couples and their friends. This time, they visit Las Vegas for a wedding, where their misadventures and misdemeanors put the big day at risk.

“The ensemble cast along with Hart proved to be a considerable draw and, as a comedy, offered an antidote to the typical summer blockbuster fare,” said Dergarabedian.

While the film didn’t do it for critics, with only a 23 percent positive rating on Rottentomatoes.com, 79 percent of audiences liked it, according to the review aggregator.

“Hart hits such adrenaline-fueled extremes, it’s exhausting,” Betsy Sharkey wrote in the Los Angeles Times. “If you can look past the cliches and the comic’s high wattage and high-pitched screeching, there are some interesting things going on.”

Sony Sequels

“Think Like a Man Too” follows “22 Jump Street,” a cop comedy with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum that opened at No. 1 in its debut and has generated $109.9 million domestically since its release on June 13, according to Rentrak.

“We certainly had pictures that had a lot of love attached to them the first time around,” Rory Bruer, Sony’s president of worldwide distribution, said in an interview. “What was important in the sequels to these films was to get the story right.”

Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai last week reiterated he has no plans to separate Sony’s entertainment business as part of a restructuring. The Japanese company has fallen 6.1 percent to 1,715 yen so far this year.

“Despite calls for Sony to spin off its entertainment business the studio is having a nice run this summer with some modestly budgeted movies,” Paul Sweeney, senior media analyst at Bloomberg Industries, said in an interview.

Jersey Boys

Eastwood’s “Jersey Boys,” based on the hit Broadway musical, was projected to generate $12 million in its opening.

Charting the rise of the doo-wop-influenced Four Seasons, the movie tells the story of the Italian-American New Jersey band that produced such hits as “Sherry” and “Walk Like a Man,” through the narrative voice of each member of the group.

The picture, which also features Christopher Walken, received mixed reviews, garnering a 54 percent positive rating on Rottentomatoes.com.

“The whole thing looks and sounds so canned -- from the conspicuousness of a set that’s been vacuumed of the dirt of real life to the goofily contrived setup,” wrote Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. “It’s disappointing that Mr. Eastwood, a director who can convey extraordinary depths of feeling in his work, didn’t do more with this material.”

Among returning movies, “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” from DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. (DWA) and 21st Century Fox Inc., collected $24.7 million to place third in its second weekend.

‘Tough Weekend’

Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s “Maleficent,” the live-action retelling of its animated classic “Sleeping Beauty” starring Angelina Jolie, took $12.9 million to place fifth. The movie has grossed $185.9 million domestically since its release.

Weekend revenue for the top 10 films fell 41 percent to $135.8 million from the year-earlier period, Rentrak said. Domestic box-office sales year to date are $4.94 billion, an increase of 0.5 percent from the same period in 2013.

“This was a very tough weekend with regard to comparisons to last year’s same weekend, when ‘Monsters University’ and ‘World War Z’ opened,” said Rentrak’s Dergarabedian, referring to the 2013 films released by Walt Disney and Viacom Inc. (VIAB)’s Paramount Pictures.

The following table has U.S. movie box-office figures provided by studios to Rentrak. The amounts are based on gross ticket sales for June 20 to June 22.

                      Rev.  Pct.             Avg./   Total
Movie                (mln)  Chg. Theaters  Theater   (mln)  Wks
===============================================================
1 Think Like A Man   $29.2   --   2,225     $13,142    $29.2  1
2 22 Jump Street      27.5  -52   3,306       8,306    109.9  2
3 Dragon 2            24.7  -50   4,268       5,792     94.6  2
4 Jersey Boys         13.3   --   2,905       4,585     13.3  1
5 Maleficent          12.9  -30   3,450       3,742    185.9  4
6 Edge Of Tomorrow     9.8  -41   3,212       3,057     74.0  3
7 Fault In Our Stars   8.6  -42   3,340       2,565     98.7  3
8 X-Men: Future Past   6.2  -37   2,681       2,294    216.7  5
9 Godzilla             1.9  -43   1,365       1,383    195.0  6
10 Chef                1.7  -22     961       1,778     16.8  7

Top 10 Films Grosses

   This Week     Year Ago      Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $135.8        $228.6       -41

Year-to-date Revenue

     2014          2013
      YTD           YTD        Pct.
     (mln)         (mln)       Chg.
===================================
    $4,943        $4,917      +0.5

Source: Rentrak Corp.

To contact the reporters on this story: Anousha Sakoui in London at asakoui@bloomberg.net; Devin Banerjee in New York at dbanerjee2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net Ben Livesey, Rob Golum

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