Box Office: 'Think Like a Man' is surprise No. 1 again [Updated]
Four new films hit theaters this weekend, but moviegoers were still thinking about "Think Like a Man."
In a surprise win, the ensemble comedy topped the box office for the second consecutive weekend, collecting $18 million and bringing its 10-day total to $60.9 million, according to an estimate from distributor Sony Pictures. Heading into the weekend, the Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy "The Five-Year Engagement" was expected to be No. 1. Instead, the movie debuted with a disappointing $11.2 million — far under industry projections of at least $18 million, and below even Universal Pictures' modest $13-million prediction.
Three other debuts also failed to make serious dents at the box office. "The Pirates! Band of Misfits," a 3-D stop-motion animated picture, started with a slightly better $11.4 million — though it cost about $30 million more to produce than "Engagement." The Jason Statham action flick "Safe," meanwhile, grossed an unimpressive $7.7 million, roughly as much as the lackluster $7.3-million opening of the John Cusack horror film "The Raven."
As a result of the weak performance of the slew of new films, ticket sales were down 30% compared with the same three-day period last year, when "Fast Five" debuted with a massive $86.2 million.
"The Five-Year Engagement" marks the second-worst opening ever for writer-director Nicholas Stoller, who teamed with star Jason Segel to pen the relationship comedy. The pair have successfully collaborated together before on projects such as 2008's "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and last year's solid hit "The Muppets."
Outside of March's "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" — a low-budget film that never played in more than 500 theaters — Segel has proved to be a reliable box-office draw in recent years. The 32-year-old actor is best known for playing overgrown man-children in movies such as "Marshall" and 2009's "I Love You, Man," and was one of the main reasons moviegoers said they showed up to see "Engagement" this weekend. However, moviegoers — like the critics — were ultimately not enamored with the picture, assigning it an average grade of B-, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Not surprisingly, the film appealed to a 64% female audience — but the crowd was a bit older than is typical for an Apatow film, as 57% were over the age of 30.
The movie, also starring Emily Blunt, follows a couple whose engagement is derailed for half a decade due to career ambitions. Universal and Relativity Media spent about $30 million to make the film.
"The Pirates! Band of Misfits" is the latest production from England's Aardman Animations that has failed to resonate in a major way with American audiences. Known for creating films such as "Wallace & Gromit" and "Chicken Run," Aardman's most recent production, last winter's "Arthur Christmas, only grossed $46 million domestically, though it raked in $100 million abroad. "Pirates" should follow that same trajectory, as it has already collected $63.7 million from 49 foreign countries.
In the United States and Canada this weekend, the movie attracted a 76% family audience, who gave the well-reviewed film an average grade of B. The movie, featuring the voice of Hugh Grant as a pirate trying to become buccaneer of the year, had a budget of about $55 million.
"Safe," which stars Statham as a former cop on a mission to save a girl from international gangs, appealed mostly to older men this weekend. The opening for "Safe" was a bit lower than that of the typical Statham film: Last year, the action star's "Killer Elite" started off with $9 million, while "The Mechanic" debuted with $11 million. Audiences who saw his most recent film liked it a tad more than any of the weekend's other new releases, giving it a B+ on CinemaScore.
Lionsgate, which is releasing the film in the United States and Canada on behalf of film finance company IM Global, only paid for the film's prints and advertising costs.
"The Raven" received the most dismal critical reviews of any film hitting theaters this weekend — earning only a paltry 22% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Moviegoers — 59% of whom were age 25 and older — were more kind, giving the film an average grade of B.
The movie stars Cusack as 19th century author Edgar Allen Poe, who ends up having to face reenactments of the scary stories he penned. The film was made for $26 million by production and financing company Intrepid Pictures but was later acquired by Relativity for about $4 million.
The movie's opening weekend is not great news for Cusack, who has had a mixed track record at the box office in recent years. The 45-year-old actor was part of a phenomenal hit with Roland Emmerich's disaster epic "2012" two years ago, but has had less success with films such as 2007’s “Martian Child” and 2005’s “Must Love Dogs.”
[Updated, 12:13 P.M., April 29: In limited debut, the dark comedy "Bernie" scored the best per-theater average of the year for a specialty release. The film, directed by Richard Linklater and starring Jack Black as an undertaker who commits a crime but is still popular in his Texas community, grossed $90,438 over the weekend. Playing in three theaters, that amounted to a strong location average of $30,146. The movie, which is being released by Millennium Entertainment, debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival last June and earned largely positive critical reviews.
Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office, with international results when available, according to studio estimates:
2. "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" (Sony): Opened with $11.4 million. $5.5 million overseas in 49 foreign markets. International total: $63.6 million.
3. "The Lucky One" (Warner Bros./Village Roadshow): $11.3 million on its second weekend, down 50%. Domestic total: $39.9 million. $4.8 million overseas in 20 foreign markets. International total: $10 million.
4. "The Hunger Games" (Lionsgate): $11.3 million on its sixth weekend, down 23%. Domestic total: $372.5 million. $7.4 million overseas in 60 foreign markets. International total: $228.5 million.
5. "The Five-Year Engagement" (Universal/Relativity): Opened with $11.2 million.
6. "Safe" (Lionsgate/IM Global): Opened with $7.7 million.
7. "The Raven" (Relativity/Intrepid): Opened with $7.3 million.
8. "Chimpanzee" (Disney): $5.5 million on its second weekend, down 49%. Domestic total: $19.2 million.
9. "The Three Stooges" (Fox): $5.4 million on its third weekend, down 45%. Domestic total: $37.1 million.
10. "The Cabin in the Woods" (Lionsgate): $4.5 million on its third weekend, down 44%. Domestic total: $34.7 million.]
— Amy Kaufman
Photo: A scene from "Think Like a Man." Credit: Sony Pictures