The property value on Jump Street just increased significantly.
"22 Jump Street," Sony's R-rated followup to the successful 2012 buddy comedy "21 Jump Street," topped the domestic box office with a whopping $60 million over the weekend, according estimates from its distributor.
The film, which played an even split among male and female audiences, averaged roughly $18,520 in its 3,306 theaters. It looks to be helping Sony reverse last summer's bad fortunes brought on by flops "White House Down" and "After Earth."
"When you have stars like Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum who have such great chemistry together, it just pays off in a big way," said Rory Bruer, distribution head at Sony, which co-produced with MGM.
The end credits spoof Hollywood's appetite for franchises, but why wouldn't Sony want to bank on it? Bruer certainly welcomed the idea: "I think audiences would definitely want to see these guys together again."
"22's" entrance outperformed the original "21 Jump Steet" opening by more than 65%. The predecessor opened to $36.3 million and went on to gross $138 domestically and a global total of more than $200 million. It also stands as one of the best openings for an R-rated comedy, with only 2011's "The Hangover Part II" ahead of it with $85.9 million.
The $50-million production features Tatum and Hill reprising their roles as underachieving police officers who are sent undercover — this time at a local college.
Audiences, 56% of which were younger than 25, and critics seem to be in agreement: The movie earned an A- CinemaScore and an 83% on Rotten Tomatoes.
It was one of two major sequels opening over the weekend, along with Fox and DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon 2." Early projections had the two films debuting in the $55 million range, with the 3-D computer-animated fantasy given a minor edge because it was released in 900 more theaters and had the benefit of being the summer's first major animated release.
But the young Viking named Hiccup and his dragon Toothless were narrowly defeated in the battle, putting them at No. 2 The family film opened to $50 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to estimates from its distributor.
"Any time you have a PG animated film and you go against a hard R film, that's a pretty good place to be because they are really different audiences," said Chris Aronson, head of domestic distribution for 20th Century Fox. "There was a lot of chatter pre-release about us being neck-and-neck with '22 Jump Street,' but, frankly, we knew they were going to be ahead of us."
Playing in 4,253 theaters, one of the largest roll-outs ever for an animated film, "Dragon 2" took in about $11,810 at each of them.
The film, which saw the return of Dean DeBlois as director, won over critics and received an A CinemaScore. This installment follows Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his BFF dragon as they try to save the world from the power-obsessed Drago — with the voice cast also consisting of Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson and, coincidentally, Hill.
It outperformed the 2010 domestic debut of the original — which opened to $43.7 million and ended its global run with $495 million, with $218 million of that from the U.S. and Canada.
The animated film, which cost $145 million, is on track to stay on higher ground, with little animated competition to contend with this summer. It will open in 20 international markets this weekend, including Russia — offering a respite to all the World Cup viewings.
Taking the third-place spot was Disney's "Maleficent," which brought in $19 million in its third weekend, bringing its total to $163.5 million domestically.
That kept Tom Cruise's trouble actioner "Edge of Tomorrow" further at bay in the No. 4 spot in its second week. The Warner Bros. film took in $16.1 million, bringing its North American total to $56.6 million.
Last week's tear-jerking victor, Fox's teen drama "The Fault in Our Stars," dropped more than 65% in its second week, leaving it to round out the top 5. After a stellar first-weekend debut, the film, an adaptation of the popular John Green novel, took in $15.7 million. Don't cry for the film too much, it's already recouped its $12-million price tag -- with its domestic box office total at $81.7 million.