Think Kevin Hart, think box-office dollars.
The comic's new ensemble comedy "Think Like a Man Too" grossed $1.8 million from Thursday night showings that started at 7 p.m., according to an estimate by the film's distributor, Sony's Screen Gems.
That bodes well for the $24-million movie's opening weekend.
Director Tim Story's follow-up to 2012's hit "Think Like a Man" is expected to take in at least $30 million in ticket sales through Sunday in the U.S. and Canada.
Earlier this year, the buddy cop comedy "Ride Along" with Hart and Ice Cube kicked off with $1.06 million in its Thursday night launch that started at 8 p.m. It scored an impressive $49 million over the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend.
Hart's last movie, the rom-com remake "About Last Night," kicked off with $525,000 on its Thursday night debut.
Critics' reviews have been generally worse for the sequel than its predecessor, inspired by the Steve Harvey dating manual "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man." According to Rotten Tomatoes, about 22% of the reviews have been positive.
But bad reviews didn't appear to hurt "Ride Along." With a mere 18% "freshness" rating, that effort ended up with $134 million in ticket sales domestically.
Also opening this weekend is "Jersey Boys," a $40-million, Clint Eastwood-directed adaptation of the successful jukebox musical. It's expected to gross about $13 million through Sunday.
Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter: @rfaughnderCopyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times