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Box Office Recap: New releases beat out ‘Hunger Games’

It was widely predicted that this would be the weekend The Hunger Games would slip from the number one spot after four weeks at the top of the box office charts. The question was which movie would beat it out. Would it be ensemble romantic comedy Think Like a Man or The Lucky One, which stars Zac Efron as a Marine/internet stalker?

If you guessed Think Like a Man based on the above picture, you’d be correct. The adaptation of Steve Harvey’s relationship advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man grossed a surprising $33 million in its opening weekend, a great success considering its $12 million budget. The rom-com captured its target demographics, 62 percent of its audience was 30 or older and 63 percent was female.

I think this is the part where I’m supposed to compare Think Like a Man to the work of Tyler Perry and other “African-American themed films” or “urban comedies.” Let’s skip that noise.

The Lucky One, which is the seventh (that’s right, seventh) film adapted from a Nicolas Sparks novel came in second place with $22.8 million. Dear John is the only Sparks adaptation to make more in its opening weekend, grossing $30.5 million in February 2010. Now for this week’s edition of statistics that surprise no one: 76 percent of The Lucky One’s audience was female and 52 percent was less than 25 years old.

What’s interesting here is The Lucky One was released in 3,155 theaters while Think Like a Man saw only 2,015 screens. Furthermore, while the latter’s weekend earnings nearly tripled its budget, the former didn’t quite grab back the $25 million it cost to produce.

The Hunger Games toppled back to Earth, coming in third after 4 straight weeks at the top, the longest streak since Avatar’s seven weeks at #1. The adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ 2008 novel reigned in $14.5 million, bringing its cumulative domestic earnings to $357 million. It’s now in the top 20 domestic grossing films of all time.

Three top movies, three book adaptations. You might think your high school English teacher would be happy about this news. Trust me, he’s dying a little inside.

In fourth place was Disney’s latest nature documentary, Chimpanzee. Its $10 million gross is the largest opening weekend for a Disneynature film so far, beating out the $8.8 million Earth made in 2009. Disneynature will donate 20 cents per ticket sold during the film’s opening week (4/20-4/26) to the Jane Goodall Institute.

Also of note is the relative success of Magnolia Pictures’ Marley. The documentary about legendary musician Bob Marley has been “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes with a rating of 93 percent. Marley saw limited release, opening in just 42 theaters, yet earned more than a quarter million dollars.

In an interview with Deadline Hollywood, Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said Marley was #1 “in all but a handful of complexes and usually by multiples over the next highest film.”

Here are the results for this week’s top 10 at the box office:

Title/Weeks in release/Theater count, Studio/Three-day weekend total/Cume

1. Think Like a Man, 1/2,015, Sony, $33 million
2. The Lucky One, 1/3,155, Warner Bros., $22.8 million
3. The Hunger Games, 5/3,752, Lionsgate, $14.5 million, $357 million.
4. Chimpanzee, 1/1,563, Disney, $10.2 million.
5. The Three Stooges, 2/3,482, $9.2 million, $29.4 million.
6. The Cabin in the Woods, 2/2,811, Lionsgate/MGM, $7.8 million, $27 million.
7. American Reunion, 3/3,003, Universal, $5.2 million, $48.3 million.
8. Titanic 3D, 3/2,505, Paramount/Fox, $5 million, $42.8 million.
9. 21 Jump Street, 6/2,427, Sony/MGM, $4.6 million, $127.1 million.
10. Mirror Mirror, 4/2,930, Relativity, $4.1 million, $55.2 million.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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Box Office Preview: Two kinds of romance, chimps and Bob Marley

What’s new this week? Well, not much. In terms of wide releases we’ve got a romantic drama starring Zac Efron, a rom-com based on a Steve Harvey book, and a nature documentary from Disney. A critically acclaimed documentary about Bob Marley could break up the monotony. It won’t be in a huge number of theaters but it will be available through on demand television services. For you glass half-full types, at least we won’t be subjected to any sequels or 3D re-releases.


The Lucky One
This movie is exactly what you think it is. It’s an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel (you know, that guy who wrote “The Notebook”) starring Zac Efron. Reviews have been mixed, but tilt towards the not so good side. Even the nicer critics are quick to point out that there’s a formula at work here.

It’s rarely a good sign when you can figure out the entire plot of a movie from a trailer.

While serving in Iraq, U.S. Marine Logan Thibault finds a picture of a woman he has never met and decides it’s lucky. So lucky in fact that he credits it with keeping him alive. Sound familiar? Didn’t Channing Tatum star in this movie like two years ago?

Logan comes home determined to find the woman, Beth, and succeeds after just a bit of internet stalking. Right when things start to get romancey, boom, conflict. Beth discovers the picture and is understandably creeped out before things inevitably work out in the end. Moral of the story: stalking is OK as long as you look like Zac Efron.


Think Like a Man
Again, nothing new to see here. “Think Like a Man” has gotten mixed reviews and looks like any other romantic comedy with an ensemble cast. Although to its credit, the movie seems like it could be appealing regardless of gender. Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter sums it up nicely:

As executed by an appealing ensemble of smooth operators, this adaptation of the Steve Harvey advice book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man often hits its amusing marks, but with a weighty running time of two hours, it often feels more like a lecture than an intended romp.

My fellow TV junkies will see some familiar faces. Most prominent is Jerry Ferrara, also known as Turtle from “Entourage.” Also appearing are Michael Ealy and Meagan Good, who’ve had recurring roles in “Californication,” as Ben and Kali, respectively.

Hopefully Kevin Hart and Romany Malco, who had a hilarious exchange in “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” will get to interact again.

Last and least, R&B singer/Rihanna-beater Chris Brown has a role as well. Because nobody belongs in a romantic comedy more than a man convicted of felony assault. Hilarious!


Chimpanzee
Jane Goodall’s appearance on “The Daily Show” on Monday certainly made “Chimpanzee” sound intriguing. The nature-doc has received more good reviews than bad ones.The consensus seems to be that the spectacular raw footage outweighs the sometimes forced, cutesy narration. Above all this is a Disney movie, so even its primate stars can probably count to the average age of its target audience.


Marley
It’s probably just a coincidence that a documentary about Bob Marley is being released on 4/20, also known as the stoner’s Fourth of July. When I say “coincidence,” I mean brilliant marketing. I’m going to stop right there, I don’t want my discussion of a critically acclaimed film directed by Oscar-winner Kevin Macdonald to descend into pot jokes. But believe me, they’re up my sleeve.

The film’s official site describes it as “the definitive life story of the musician, revolutionary, and legend, from his early days to his rise to international superstardom.” “Marley” celebrates its subject’s life, the good parts and the bad. Melissa Anderson of The Village Voice called it “a rousing tribute to a mesmerizing performer that forgoes blind hero worship.”

Despite its Oscar-winning director and overwhelmingly positive reviews, “Marley” will see only limited release. The good news is the film will be available through various on-demand television services. VOD is the future of film. You won’t have to “get up, stand up” and go to the theater, you pay $10 total instead of $10 a piece, and you can pause the movie for bathroom breaks.

Happy holidays.

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