Comic '21 Jump Street' leads box office

Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:54am EDT
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By Lisa Richwine

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A comic spin on 1980s television hit "21 Jump Street" nabbed the No. 1 slot on North American movie box office charts over the weekend, beating forecasts and knocking two-time winner "The Lorax" to second place.

"Jump Street" locked up an estimated $35.0 million in U.S. and Canadian ticket sales from Friday through Sunday, according to studio estimates compiled by Reuters. The performance prompted distributor Sony to order a sequel.

The movie stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as bumbling young cops who go undercover to bust a high-school drug ring. The TV show was a more serious teen drama that launched the career of Johnny Depp, who appeared in a cameo in the new film.

Critics liked the makeover, with 87 percent giving the movie a thumbs-up in reviews collected on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Audiences graded the film a "B" on average in polling by survey firm CinemaScore.

Going into the weekend, Sony had projected sales around $25 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters for "Jump Street." Sony's Columbia Pictures and MGM produced the film for about $42 million.

Advance screenings and an Internet marketing campaign helped build buzz ahead of the movie's debut, said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution for Sony Pictures.

"I think we were very successful in getting an opening like this with tremendous word-of-mouth," said Bruer, who confirmed the studio planned a sequel.

Males made up 53 percent of the movie's audience, with half of filmgoers under the age of 25 and half older than 25.   Continued...

Cast members Jonah Hill (L) and Channing Tatum pose at the premiere of "21 Jump Street" at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California March 13, 2012. The movie opens in the U.S. on March 16. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni