Weekend Box Office (April 20 - 22, 2012)

by Gitesh Pandya and Sujit Chawla

THIS WEEKEND Proving for the umpteenth time that African American casts can bring in the big bucks, Sony's Think Like a Man exploded into the top spot at the box office while the romance of The Lucky One debuted solidly in second. Both films knocked 4-time champ The Hunger Games from the top slot.

Based on the bestselling book by Steve Harvey, Think Like a Man dominated the box office with a stellar $33.6M opening this weekend, according to final studio figures, for a powerful $16,693 average. Starring Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart and Taraji P. Henson (amongst others), the film managed to make back its entire production budget (approximately $12M) in its first day in theaters. The industry should no longer be surprised when a film starring a primarily African American cast proves successful at the box office, but instead should be asking why more of them aren't made. There is obviously a large audience ready to devour these films. Reviews were mixed but audiences dug what they saw, giving the film an A grade at CinemaScore. This was also the fourth number one film of the year for Sony, following Underworld: Awakening, The Vow and 21 Jump Street.

Debuting in second place was the latest film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel, The Lucky One which brought in $22.5M this weekend, for an average of $7,137. As expected, the film played mostly to young women, with an audience breakdown of 76% female, and 52% under the age of 25. Reviews were mostly poor, but people who are suckers for romance didn't care as the film garnered a CinemaScore grade of a B+.

Making it a book-to-film trifecta, following its four-week reign at the top - the first film since Avatar to do that - the spring juggernaut The Hunger Games continued to pull in solid business by sliding only 31% to $14.7M in its fifth round. The Lionsgate smash upped its cume to a staggering $357.1M allowing Katniss and pals to rise up to number 19 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of the $352.4M of last summer's 3D threequel Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The next films to fall to the icy stare of Katniss will be Jurassic Park ($357M), and then Jesus himself in The Passion of the Christ ($370.8M).

Disney's yearly Earth Day documentary Chimpanzee opened nicely at number four this weekend with $10.7M. The film opened higher than the Earth Day films from the past three years which included Earth in 2009 ($8.8M opening/$32M total), 2010's Oceans ($6M/$19.4M) and last year's African Cats ($6M/$15.4M). I fully expect next year for Disney to hit their pinnacle with a documentary on puppies and kittens putting the past behind them and living together in harmony.

The Three Stooges stumbled to fifth place dropping 43% to $9.8M giving Fox $29.9M after ten days. Look for a final gross in the $45M range for Larry, Moe and Curly (but not Shemp). Falling 46% in its sophomore round was the horror flick The Cabin in the Woods with $8M for a $27.2M ten-day cume for Lionsgate. Look for a finale in the $40M range. Universal's comedy fourquel American Reunion collected $5.5M, off 48%, and has lifted its tally to $48.5M, which is about what American Pie 2 made in its opening weekend nearly 11 years ago.

James Cameron's Titanic 3D fell a steep 58% to $5M and has collected $52.9M for Paramount during this run. Somehow I don't imagine Cameron or the studio feel too badly about the dip as the lifetime total now stands at $653.6M. Sony's hit comedy 21 Jump Street fared well again dropping only 28% to $4.8M for an impressive $127.2M take to date. The stylish fairy tale adventure Mirror Mirror declined by 36% grossing $4.4M for a $55.5M sum.

The top ten films grossed $118.9M which was up 4% from last when Rio stayed in the top spot with $26.3M; and up 39% from 2010 when How To Train Your Dragon reclaimed number one with $15.4M in its fifth frame.

Compared to projections, Think Like a Man, The Lucky One, and Chimpanzee all opened well ahead of my respective forecasts of $17M, $17M, and $7M.

Get earlier box office updates and analysis by following BoxOfficeGuru.com on Twitter.

For a review of The Hunger Games visit The Chief Report.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when The Five-Year Engagement, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, The Raven, and Safe all try and make a few dollars before the summer movie season kicks off with The Avengers on May 4th.

# Title Apr 20 - 22 Apr 13 - 15 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Think Like a Man $ 33,636,303 2,015 1 $ 16,693 $ 33,636,303 Sony
2 The Lucky One 22,518,358 3,155 1 7,137 22,518,358 Warner Bros.
3 The Hunger Games 14,666,007 21,096,824 -30.5 3,752 5 3,909 357,066,467 Lionsgate
4 Chimpanzee 10,673,748 1,563 1 6,829 10,673,748 Disney
5 The Three Stooges 9,764,214 17,010,125 -42.6 3,482 2 2,804 29,919,660 Fox
6 The Cabin in the Woods 8,016,075 14,743,614 -45.6 2,811 2 2,852 27,246,247 Lionsgate
7 American Reunion 5,474,565 10,473,810 -47.7 3,033 3 1,805 48,518,325 Universal
8 Titanic 3D 5,032,557 11,930,249 -57.8 2,515 3 2,001 52,860,574 Paramount
9 21 Jump Street 4,750,986 6,558,868 -27.6 2,427 6 1,958 127,217,167 Sony
10 Mirror Mirror 4,408,179 6,847,924 -35.6 2,938 4 1,500 55,499,932 Relativity
11 Wrath of the Titans 3,922,412 6,906,209 -43.2 2,502 4 1,568 77,232,955 Warner Bros.
12 Lockout 3,250,588 6,231,836 -47.8 2,333 2 1,393 11,219,620 Open Road
13 The Lorax 1,899,600 3,051,285 -37.7 1,583 8 1,200 207,152,865 Universal
14 Salmon Fishing in the Yemen 688,465 888,546 -22.5 446 7 1,544 7,077,214 CBS
15 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 609,781 721,427 -15.5 444 11 1,373 101,238,907 Warner Bros.
16 Bully 513,059 535,433 -4.2 263 4 1,951 1,537,670 Weinstein Co.
17 The Raid: Redemption 473,657 961,454 -50.7 548 5 864 3,494,568 Sony Classics
18 To The Arctic 270,228 50 1 5,405 270,228 Warner Bros.
19 Marley 262,004 45 1 5,822 262,004 Magnolia
20 October Baby 250,082 543,114 -54.0 310 5 807 4,984,316 Goldwyn
Top 5 $ 91,258,630 $ 75,254,622 21.3
Top 10 118,940,992 104,850,744 13.4
Top 20 131,080,868 110,372,116 18.8
Top 20 vs. 2011 131,080,868 131,222,389 -0.1

Last Updated: April 24, 2012 at 11:20AM ET

Watch Gitesh Pandya's weekly box office preview on CNN International airing live each Thursday at 7:40pm ET.