'Think Like a Man' Sleeper Hit & 'The Hunger Games' Trailing 'Jurassic Park' & Jesus Movie?

Think Like a Man Michael Ealy Taraji P. Henson
Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson, Think Like a Man

'Think Like a Man' sleeper hit

April 23 update: Think Like a Man, inspired by TV/radio comedian Steve Harvey's bestselling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, dethroned Gary Ross / Jennifer Lawrence's The Hunger Games at the North American box office this weekend. The Hunger Games, in fact, was down two spots, also trailing the Zac Efron / Taylor Schilling romantic drama The Lucky One, based on Nicholas Sparks' bestselling novel. All three films performed above expectations.

According to box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo, Think Like a Man took in a surprisingly strong $33.63 million – about 10 percent above early estimates released as late as Friday night – averaging a highly impressive $16,693 per-theater at 2,017 locations. It has become distributor Sony Pictures/ScreenGems' biggest hit targeted at black Americans, surpassing the Beyoncé Knowles' 2009 movie Obsessed, which earned $28.6 million (approx. $29.8 million today).

Sony had been (officially) predicting a $17 million opening weekend, though Boxofficemojo.com's Ray Subers was expecting $25+ million, and earlier this week Fandango had been reporting a huge demand for tickets for the film. In other words, Think Like a Man overperformed by a wide margin – though not quite as wide as those quoting Sony will claim.

If Think Like a Man did indeed cost about $12-$13 million as reported and if box office estimates are accurate, the film has already earned back its production cost (not including marketing / distribution expenses) and some extra change over the course of a single weekend at the domestic box office. (Remember, studios get about 50–55 percent of a movie's domestic gross.)

That's good news for Sony, especially considering that those types of niche movies tend to plummet on the second weekend (and ensuing weekends as well) and have near-zero box office appeal overseas.

Obsessed, for instance, took in $68.26 million in North America, but a paltry (reported) $5.56 million overseas. Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail earned $90.5 million domestically, but Box Office Mojo offers no international figures, which generally means the film wasn't released abroad (except, perhaps, on DVD). International distributors may have been reticent following the performance of Perry's Madea's Family Reunion, which collected $63.25 million in North America, but an absurdly tiny (reported) $50,939 abroad.

And much like Perry's comedies, Think Like a Man doesn't have many fans among North American film reviewers: the Steve Harvey-inspired comedy has a mediocre 52 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics.

Directed by Fantastic Four / Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer's Tim Story, Think Like a Man features Michael Ealy, Entourage's Jerry Ferrara, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Meagan Good, Gabrielle Union, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson (featured in Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself and The Family That Preys).

Overall, North American box office figures were down 5 percent compared to last year.

[Continues on next page. See link below.]

Michael Ealy / Taraji P. Henson / Think Like a Man photo: Alan Markfield / ScreenGems.

April 21 update: The Hunger Games is no longer the no. 1 movie at the North American box office. After four consecutive weekends on top, Gary Ross' movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins' novel was down two spots at no. 3 on Friday.

The new box office leader is Tim Story's comedy Think Like a Man, inspired by TV/radio comedian Steve Harvey's bestselling book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. At no. 2 was the Zac Efron / Taylor Schilling romantic drama The Lucky One, based on Nicholas Sparks' bestselling novel. Both films performed above expectations.

According to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo, Think Like a Man took in $12.2 million – about 10 percent above early estimates released last night – thus averaging a highly impressive $6,055 per-theater at 2,017 locations on Friday. Chances are the comedy will pass the $30 million mark this weekend. If so, it'll be distributor Sony Pictures/ScreenGems' biggest hit targeted to black Americans, surpassing the Beyoncé Knowles' 2009 vehicle Obsessed, which earned an inflation-adjusted (approx.) $29.8 million.

Now, Sony had been (officially) predicting a $17 million opening weekend, but Box Office Mojo's Ray Subers was expecting $25+ million, and earlier this week Fandango had been reporting a huge demand for tickets for the film. Even so, if Think Like a Man does reach $30 million, it will be overperforming quite a bit. Just not as much as those quoting Sony will claim.

I should add that Think Like a Man cost like a low-budget flick: about $12 million. In other words, if the film's budget and box office estimates are accurate, Think Like a Man will have earned back its production cost (not including marketing / distribution expenses) over the course of a single weekend at the domestic box office. (Remember, studios get about 50-55 percent of a movie's domestic gross.)

That's good news for Sony, especially considering that those types of niche comedies tend to plummet on the second weekend (and ensuing weekends as well) and have near-zero box office appeal overseas, where Hollywood studios have been earning most of their box office cash.

Like Tyler Perry's comedies, Think Like a Man doesn't have many fans among critics: Story's comedy has a mediocre 52 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. The mostly black/part-black cast includes Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Meagan Good, Gabrielle Union, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson (featured in Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself and The Family That Preys).

Jerry Ferrara / Gabrielle Union / Think Like a Man photo: Alan Markfield / ScreenGems.

Previous Post

The Hunger Games has lost the box office crown at the North American box office. After four weekends on top, Gary Ross' film version of Suzanne Collins' bestselling novel has been beaten by two new entries: Tim Story's comedy Think Like a Man, based on the bestselling book by TV/radio comedian Steve Harvey and whose target audience are US blacks, and the Zac Efron / Taylor Schilling romantic drama The Lucky One, based on a bestselling Nicholas Sparks novel and aimed at American / Canadian teenagers and young women, and their boyfriends and/or gal pals (regardless of ethnicity, apparently, though both leads are white).

As per early, rough estimates found at Deadline.com, Think Like a Man may reach $30 million at 2,017 theaters this weekend after taking in $11 million on Friday. Distributor Sony Pictures/ScreenGems had been (officially) predicting $17 million. Believe their “prediction” at your own risk. At Box Office Mojo, Ray Subers was expecting $25+ million, and earlier this week Fandango had been reporting a huge demand for tickets for the film.

Of course, it sounds so much nicer in news reports when your movie “overperforms.” It certainly beats the negative buzz of underperforming, or the blah-buzz for movies that merely meet their target.

Now, if Think Like a Man does reach $30 million, it will be overperforming, period. Just not as much as those quoting Sony will claim.

Worth mentioning: Think Like a Man cost like a low-budget flick: about $12 million. In other words, if budget and box office estimates are accurate, the film has earned back its production cost (not including marketing / distribution expenses) over the course of a single weekend at the domestic box office. (Remember, studios get about 50-55 percent of a movie's domestic gross.)

That's good news for Sony, especially considering that those types of niche comedies tend to plummet on the second weekend (and ensuing weekends as well) and have near-zero box office appeal overseas, where Hollywood studios have been earning most of their box office dough.

Much like the reviews for Tyler Perry's comedies, Think Like a Man doesn't have many fans among critics: Story's comedy has a mediocre 52 percent approval rating among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. The mostly black/part-black cast includes Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Regina Hall, Taraji P. Henson (featured in Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself and The Family That Preys), Kevin Hart, Meagan Good, and Gabrielle Union.

Michael Ealy / Think Like a Man photo: Alan Markfield / ScreenGems.

At no. 3 this weekend behind Think Like a Man and The Lucky One, Gary Ross' The Hunger Games is expected to collect about $13 million. Its Friday take was $4 million according to studio estimates found at Box Office Mojo. Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth star.

The Hunger Games' domestic cume stands at an estimated $346.4 million, which means the dystopian adventure drama is now the no. 20 movie ever at the domestic box office. That is, if you live on a planet where little things called “inflation” and “IMAX surcharges” don't exist.

On Box Office Mojo's all-time box office chart, The Hunger Games currently finds itself sandwiched between Michael Bay's Transformers: Dark of the Moon's $352 million and Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' $342 million. By Sunday evening, The Hunger Games will have surpassed Dark of the Moon, and will shortly be surpassing Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park.

However, in terms of estimated ticket sales – which happen to be the true measure of a film's popularity (in relation to the population of the country or region in question) – The Hunger Games is, huh, no. 123, slightly ahead of the high-brow Ben Stiller / Robert De Niro comedy Meet the Fockers and, once again, slightly behind the just-as-highbrow sci-fier / actioner Dark of the Moon.

Chiefly as a result of its domestic success, The Hunger Games is no. 82 on the all-time worldwide box office chart, ahead of The Empire Strikes Back and behind Despicable Me.

At no. 4 on Friday, DisneyNature's Chimpanzee may collect approximately $10.5 million by Sunday evening after raking in $3.53 million at 1,563 locations on Friday. For comparison's sake, Oceans and African Cats each grossed around $6 million on their debut weekends.

Rounding out the top five on Friday was Drew Goddard's The Cabin in the Woods, featuring a pre-Thor, pre-The Avengers Chris Hemsworth. The Cabin in the Woods scored $2.47 million, followed by Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly's The Three Stooges with $2.3 million. The comedy was listed last night as Friday's no. 5 movie, but it grossed a little less than early estimates indicated, whereas The Cabin in the Woods grossed a little more; hence, the switching around. The Three Stooges stars Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos.

Rounding out the top twelve on Friday were Seann William Scott / Jason Biggs' American Reunion with $1.7 million, James Cameron / Leonardo DiCaprio / Kate Winslet's Titanic 3D with $1.4 million, and Channing Tatum / Jonah Hill's 21 Jump Street with $1.37 million.

Also: Julia Roberts / Lily Collins / Armie Hammer's Mirror Mirror with $1.09 million, Sam Worthington / Ralph Fiennes' Wrath of the Titans with $1.03 million, and Guy Pearce / Maggie Grace's Lockout with $939,000.

See also: Zac Efron Has Good Box Office Year with The Lucky One.

Chimpanzee photo: Disney Enterprises.

April 24, '12, update: After grossing $1 million in North America on Monday, April 23, The Hunger Games has surpassed Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park to become the 18th biggest blockbuster ever at the U.S. and Canada box office.

On Box Office Mojo's all-time box office chart, The Hunger Games (cume: $358.07 million) currently finds itself sandwiched between Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ ($370.78 million) and Jurassic Park ($357.067 million), after having just surpassed Michael Bay / Shia LaBeouf's Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($352 million). By next Sunday, it should be no. 17, ahead of The Passion and slightly behind Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man 2.

The Gary Ross-directed dystopian adventure drama will likely end its run somewhere between Daniel Radcliffe / Ralph Fiennes' Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 ($381.01 million at no. 13) and Michael Bay's Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen ($402.11 million at no. 12).

Once again: in the case of The Hunger Games, its box office ranking would be accurate only if there were no such pesky little things as inflation and IMAX surcharges. In terms of ticket sales, The Hunger Games – and all of the aforementioned movies – are way down the list. How far down is impossible to tell for several reasons, among them:

  • To the best of my knowledge, historically no official data has been released regarding Hollywood movies' actual ticket sales.
  • Even inflation-adjusted charts don't factor in IMAX and 3D surcharges for each movie; those can be as high as 40 percent of the price of a movie ticket. In other words, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and the The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 were both released in 2011, when the average ticket price was $7.83. Let's pretend they both grossed $300 million. Had that been the case, Breaking Dawn 1 would have sold more tickets than Deathly Hallows 2; the former is in (cheaper) 2D, whereas the latter earned a sizable chunk of its gross from (costlier) 3D showings.
  • Cheaper children's matinees aren't factored in.
  • A number of major releases (up to the late '60s or so) were “roadshowed,” i.e., they opened at one or perhaps a handful of theaters at top prices – those aren't reflected (for each movie) in annual averages.

Despite those (serious) inadequacies, the inflation-adjusted domestic box office chart is an infinitely more reliable barometer of a film's popularity than the “official” chart quoted by pundits most everywhere.

On the adjusted chart, The Hunger Games is no. 110, having jumped 13 slots since Friday. It is now sandwiched between Spielberg / Tom Hanks' Saving Private Ryan ($358.19 million) and Mel Brooks / Gene Wilder's Young Frankenstein (357.41 million). A week from now, The Hunger Games will likely jump another eight slots, landing behind Tom Cruise's Top Gun.

Chiefly as a result of its domestic success, The Hunger Games is no. 73 on the all-time worldwide box office chart (not adjusted for inflation or currency fluctuations), ahead of the Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum and behind the Bradley Cooper / Zach Galifianakis comedy The Hangover Part II. The Hunger Games' worldwide total currently stands at $575.1 million.

On Monday, The Hunger Games was no. 3 at the domestic box office, behind Tim Story / Michael Ealy / Jerry Ferrara's Think Like a Man ($2.76 million) and Scott Hicks / Zac Efron / Taylor Schilling's The Lucky One ($1.44 million). Based on Suzanne Collins' novel, The Hunger Games features Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Alexander Ludwig, Donald Sutherland, and Wes Bentley.

Jennifer Lawrence / Liam Hemsworth / The Hunger Games photo: Murray Close / Lionsgate.

April 23

At no. 3 this weekend behind Tim Story / Michael Ealy / Jerry Ferrara's Think Like a Man and Scott Hicks / Zac Efron / Taylor Schilling's The Lucky One, Gary Ross' The Hunger Games grossed a better-than-expected $14.66 million (down 31 percent) in North America according to box office actuals found at Box Office Mojo. The dystopian adventure drama based on Suzanne Collins' novel features Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Alexander Ludwig, Donald Sutherland, and Wes Bentley.

The Hunger Games' domestic cume stands at $357.066 million, which places it as the 19th biggest box office hit ever in the U.S. and Canada. That is, if you live on a planet where little things called “inflation” and “IMAX surcharges” don't exist.

On Box Office Mojo's all-time box office chart, The Hunger Games currently finds itself sandwiched between Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park ($357.067 million) and Michael Bay / Shia LaBeouf's Transformers: Dark of the Moon ($352 million). By Monday evening, The Hunger Games will be the no. 18 movie, behind Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ ($370.78 million).

However, in terms of estimated ticket sales – the true measure of a film's popularity (in relation to the population of the country or region in question) – The Hunger Games is no. 112, having jumped 11 slots since Friday. It is now sandwiched between Joe Dante / Zach Galligan's Gremlins and Disney's multiple-released Peter Pan. A week from now, The Hunger Games will likely jump another ten slots, landing behind Tom Cruise's Top Gun. (I should add that the inflation-adjusted chart is just that; there's no adjustment in regard to, say, 3D or IMAX surcharges, or discounted ticket prices for children.)

Chiefly as a result of its domestic success, The Hunger Games is no. 74 on the all-time worldwide box office chart, ahead of The Smurfs and behind the Ben Stiller comedy Night at the Museum. The Hunger Games worldwide total stands at $572.7 million.

This weekend's no. 4 movie was DisneyNature's Chimpanzee, which raked in $10.67 million at 1,563 locations, averaging a a good $6,529 per theater. For comparison's sake, Oceans and African Cats each grossed approximately $6 million on their debut weekends.

At no. 5, Bobby Farrelly and Peter Farrelly's The Three Stooges, which surged 86 percent on Saturday, brought in $9.76 million (down 43 percent) – about $500,000 more than estimated on Sunday. The Three Stooges stars Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, and Chris Diamantopoulos. Domestic cume: $29.91 million. Cost: $30 million.

Next in line at no. 6 was Drew Goddard's The Cabin in the Woods, featuring a pre-Thor, pre-The Avengers Chris Hemsworth. The generally well-received horror thriller scored $8.01 million, down a less-than-usual (for a horror flick) 46 percent from its opening weekend. Domestic total: $27.24 million. The film's reported (but unconfirmed) budget is $30 million.

Rounding out the top twelve on Friday were the following: Seann William Scott / Jason Biggs' American Reunion with $5.47 million (down 48 percent; domestic cume: $48.3 million; international cume: $56 million), James Cameron / Leonardo DiCaprio / Kate Winslet's Titanic 3D with $5.03 million (down an alarming down 58 percent; domestic cume: $52.82 million; international cume: a whopping $225.4 million, nearly half of which from China), and Channing Tatum / Jonah Hill's 21 Jump Street with $4.75 million (down 28 percent; domestic cume: $127.06 million; international cume: $39.5 million).

Also: Julia Roberts / Lily Collins / Armie Hammer's Mirror Mirror with $4.4 million (down 36 percent; domestic cume: $55.2 million; international cume: $64 million up to April 15), Sam Worthington / Ralph Fiennes' Wrath of the Titans with $3.92 million (down 42 percent; domestic cume: $77.13 million; international cume: $201 million), and Guy Pearce / Maggie Grace's Lockout with $3.25 million (down 48 percent; domestic cume: $11.06 million).

Hedy Lamarr 'Samson and Delilah' Ahead of 'The Hunger Games'?

Hedy Lamarr can be seen later this month on Turner Classic Movies: I Take This Woman (1940) will be shown on Saturday, April 28, '12, and The Conspirators (1944) on Monday, April 30.

I Take This Woman was a troubled production that took so long to make – W.S. Van Dyke replaced Frank Borzage who had replaced original director Josef von Sternberg – that punsters called it “I Retake This Woman.” Spencer Tracy co-stars as a doctor who marries European refugee Lamarr.

Jean Negulesco's The Conspirators has several elements in common with Michael Curtiz's Casablanca, including an “exotic” World War II setting (in this case, Lisbon), conflicting loyalties, male lead Paul Henreid, and supporting players Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre. Curiously, at one point Lamarr had been considered for the Casablanca role that eventually went to Ingrid Bergman.

Neither I Take This Woman nor The Conspirators did much for Hedy Lamarr's Hollywood career. Lamarr's biggest box office hit was Cecil B. DeMille's Samson and Delilah (Victor Mature played Samson), which earned Paramount $11.5 million in domestic rentals in 1949/1950, or approximately $180 million in 2012 dollars* – which could theoretically represent a $360 million gross today, placing DeMille's epic ahead of Gary Ross / Jennifer Lawrence's The Hunger Games, Gore Verbinski / Johnny Depp's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Daniel Radcliffe's Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Michael Bay / Shia LaBeouf's Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and Robert Downey Jr's Iron Man. (Studios have usually gotten 50-55 percent of the gross of domestic releases.)

Lamarr's best film performance, however, may well have been in a now largely forgotten 1941 romantic comedy-drama with James Stewart, Clarence Brown's Come Live with Me.

Among Lamarr's other notable films are:

Lamarr stopped making movies in 1957. According to a handful of sources, she came out of retirement for a cameo in the little-seen Instant Karma (1990), though in that film she is seen only in a brief clip of one of her old movies. She is the chief topic of the documentary Calling Hedy Lamarr.

Ingrid Bergman owes much of her stardom to Hedy Lamarr. In addition to the aforementioned Casablanca (1942), Lamarr also turned down Gaslight (1944), which earned Bergman a Best Actress Academy Award, and Saratoga Trunk (1946), one of the biggest box office hits of Bergman's career.

* Estimate based on average annual ticket prices according to the National Association of Theater Owners. Note: the year 1950 doesn't have a published average listed; as a result, I used an approximation (50 cents) taking into account the published averages for 1949 (46 cents) and 1951 (53 cents).

Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane, Mirror Mirror photo: Relativity Media.

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1 Comment to 'Think Like a Man' Sleeper Hit & 'The Hunger Games' Trailing 'Jurassic Park' & Jesus Movie?

  1. Bill B.

    So wish there was/had been a way to track movie tickets sales over these many decades. Dollars mean little due to a number of reasons, mostly inflation. Ticket sales are the true definition of how many got up off the sofa and went out and paid to go see a movie regardless of the ticket price. Have more people purchased tickets to see Gone With the Wind as opposed to Star Wars, Avatar, Titanic, E.T, The Sound of Music, Jaws? However, the world is a changin'! With all of the many ways to view films these days, it is going to get more & more complex to truly judge viewership numbers, if it is even possible which I suspect it already isn't.