‘22 Jump Street’ slays ‘Dragon 2’ at box office


LOS ANGELES — The property value on Jump Street just increased significantly.

“22 Jump Street,” Sony’s R-rated follow-up to the successful 2012 buddy comedy “21 Jump Street,” topped the domestic box office with $60 million over the weekend, according to estimates from its distributor.

The film, which played to an evenly split male-versus-female audience, averaged a strong $18,520 per theater in wide release. 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 the film with MGM.

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. The end credits spoof Hollywood’s appetite for franchises, but why wouldn’t Sony want to bank on it? Bruer welcomed the idea: “I think audiences would definitely want to see these guys together again.”

The opening of “22 Jump Street” outperformed that of “21” by more than 65 percent. The original “Jump Street” opened at $36.3 million and went on to gross $138 million in the U.S. and Canada and more than $200 million globally. The sequel stands as one of the best openings for an R-rated comedy, second only to “The Hangover Part II” in 2011 with $85.9 million.

Audience members, 56 percent of whom were younger than 25, and critics were in agreement: The movie earned an A-minus from audience polling firm CinemaScore and an 83 percent positive rating from critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.

Like “22 Jump Street,” the other major sequel opening over the weekend, Fox and DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” had been projected to debut in the $55 million range. The 3-D computer-animated fantasy was given a minor edge because it was released in 900 more theaters and had the benefit of being the summer’s first major animated film.

But the young Viking named Hiccup and his dragon Toothless were defeated, landing at No. 2 at the box office. 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 rollouts ever for an animated film, “Dragon 2” took in an average of $11,810 per screen.

The film, which saw the return of Dean DeBlois as director, won over critics and received an A from CinemaScore. This installment follows Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his BFF dragon as they try to save the world from the power-obsessed Drago. The voice cast includes Cate Blanchett, Craig Ferguson and, coincidentally, Hill.

It outperformed the 2010 debut of the original, which opened to $43.7 million in the U.S. and Canada and ended its global run with $495 million.

The animated film, which cost $145 million, is on track to beat the original, with little animated competition to contend with this summer. “Dragon 2” will open in 20 international markets this weekend, including Russia — offering a respite to all the World Cup viewings.

Taking third place was Disney’s “Maleficent,” which brought in $19 million in its third weekend, bringing its total to $163.5 million in the U.S. and Canada.

That kept Tom Cruise’s 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 box office champ, Fox’s teen tear-jerker “The Fault in Our Stars,” took in $15.7 million — a drop of more than 65 percent in its second week. Don’t cry for the film too much, though. It has already recouped its $12-million price tag, and its U.S. and Canada box office total is at $81.7 million.