Box office preview: Can 'Think Like a Man Too' top '22 Jump Street'?

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Image Credit: Matt Kennedy

Kevin Hart is back in the box office running this weekend with Think Like a Man Too. The star comedian had two early 2014 hits: one modest (About Last Night) and one a veritable smash (Ride Along). He’s his own bar for success.

Sony’s $12 million Think Like a Man opened in April 2012 to $33.6 million — a surprise only to some in the industry. Based on Steve Harvey’s popular self-help book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the Tim Story-directed comedy boasted an all-star cast including Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, and Taraji P. Henson and went on to gross $91.5 million domestically. A sequel was a no-brainer, and Story re-assembled most of his cast for this latest installment, which brings the couples to Las Vegas for a wedding and some hijinks.

The questions for the weekend are whether Hart’s increased visibility will help Too beat the first, how last weekend’s No. 1 pic 22 Jump Street might affect its debut, and where Clint Eastwood’s barely promoted jukebox musical Jersey Boys will factor into the mix.

Here’s how things might play out:

1. Think Like a Man Too — $35 million
Opening in 2,200 theaters this weekend, including early Thursday evening showings, this $24 million sequel might open to $35 million if fans of the original turn out. The cast has been feverishly promoting the film in traditional ways and through their personal social media accounts. For example:

The bad news for the sequel is reviews aren’t great. It’s currently tracking at a 24 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It’ll be interesting to see how this one does in the long run.

2. 22 Jump Street — $30 million
After its stunning $57 million debut last weekend, Sony’s brotastic sequel may be poised for a nearly 50 percent fall. The first film fell only 43.6 percent in weekend two, but that also benefited from a modest opening and continued word-of-mouth hype. Chances are many of those fans who found the first film after weeks in theaters made an effort to turn out for 22‘s opening weekend. And there’s always a chance it could take the No. 1 spot once more if Think Like a Man Too underperforms.

3. How to Train Your Dragon 2 — $27 million
DreamWorks Animation’s beloved sequel disappointed opening weekend with $49.5 million out of the gate. It will probably drop just shy of 50 percent in weekend two, similar to Kung Fu Panda 2‘s fall in 2011, which opened similarly and went on to gross $165.2 million domestically by the end of its run. But it could also best 22 Jump Street in week two, considering it’s the only animated option in theaters at the moment.

4. Jersey Boys — $12 million
Clint Eastwood’s adaptation of the Tony-winning musical opens in an aggressive 2,905 locations this weekend. Starring John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli, the film chronicles the rise and fall of The Four Seasons. Warner Bros.’ marketing has been light and reviews are mixed (60 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), so it wouldn’t be surprising if the $40 million pic opened in the low teens. Still, a modest opening isn’t necessarily a death knell since it will largely appeal to older adults who don’t typically rush out to catch the latest on opening weekend.

5. Maleficent — $10 million
This could be Maleficent‘s last weekend in the top five. After almost four weekends in theaters, Disney’s dark fairy tale has earned more than $443 million worldwide.

In the specialty box office world, A24’s bleak outback drama The Rover, starring Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce, expands nationwide after a NY/LA launch last weekend. Sony Classics is debuting its Paul Haggis-directed romance Third Person in 5 theaters. That stars Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, and James Franco. And, finally, Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur opens in two locations.

Check back in this weekend for estimates and analysis.

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