Reboot earns $35 mil; B.O. still lags behind 2011 frame

Sony-MGM’s “21 Jump Street” scored a winning $35 million debut. But a lack of wide openers kept domestic box office down approximately 7% from the comparable 2011 frame, marking 2012′s first year-to-year dip.

While it’s all smiles at Sony, the weekend box office was short on breadth: Only three films — “21 Jump Street,” “The Lorax” and “John Carter” — grossed more than $5 million through Sunday. This time last year, there were eight.

Despite the dip, year-to-date domestic B.O. is outpacing last year by approximately 13%.

Overseas, Disney’s “John Carter” won bragging rights for its second consecutive frame, grossing an early estimated $40.7 million and pushing its two-week international tally to $126.1 million. At home, the film has taken $53.2 million, dropping 55% in its second frame with $13.5 million.

Universal’s “The Lorax,” meanwhile, bowed in Russia (the pic’s first major market) and earned $11.6 million this weekend, boosting its overseas cume to $14.1 million. “Lorax” collected $22.8 million in its third domestic outing, falling 41%. It has reaped $158.4 million Stateside.

Both holdovers had steeper drops than expected, while a lack of competition helped “Jump Street” overperform.

In limited release, Lionsgate’s Hispanic-targeted label Pantelion successfully launched Will Ferrell Spanish-lingo pic “Casa de mi padre,” which cracked the top 10 with an estimated $2.2 million from 382 locations.

Aside from core Latino playdates in Los Angeles and Texas, Lionsgate handpicked crossover markets for “Casa,” like Boston and Seattle, where Ferrell pics have consistently over-indexed.

Paramount Vantage’s “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” had a similar aggressive rollout at 254 locations but wasn’t as impressive, tallying an estimated $840,000. Even on a per-screen basis, “Casa” did better, averaging $5,759 vs. “Jeff’s” per-screen average of $3,307.

At just three locations, Sundance Selects’ French-language pic “The Kid With a Bike” grossed a total estimated $51,000 for a fine per-screen average of $17,000.

‘Street’ on fast track

With an easy-to-digest $42 million budget, “Jump Street,” which toplines Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, will have no trouble turning a profit for Sony. Added to the film’s domestic bow, “Street” collected solid day-and-date coin mostly from Australia and U.K., totaling an estimated $7 million.

The film’s Oz opening, at $4.3 million, accounted for 38% of the country’s total weekend box office and outstripped the local opening of 2009′s “The Hangover” by 16%. In Blighty, “Street” debuted with $2.5 million, ranking second for the weekend behind Par’s $3.1 million bow of “The Devil Inside.”

Though American comedies tend to play best in English-speaking territories, the real test will come when the pic begins to roll out elsewhere internationally. In comparison, Warner Bros.’ “Project X” has done well, particularly in France, with $14 million overseas.

Strong tracking for “Jump Street” prompted Sony to announce Friday it is closing a deal for a sequel treatment by Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall. The pair have story credits on the first “Jump Street,” with Bacall credited for writing the script.

“Opening a film like ‘Jump Street’ is just great fun,” said Sony distribution exec Rory Bruer. “Everyone has known how funny Jonah is, but I think people were really wowed by Tatum’s (comedic) performance.”

“Jump Street” marks the live-action feature debuts for helming pair Phil Lord and Chris Miller — the same team behind Sony Animation’s 2009 B.O. toon hit “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

As expected, “Jump Street” drew a mostly male crowd, though the film also had a sizable female contingency (at 47%). The R-rated pic also was split evenly between auds over and under 25, of which the latter crowd represents a more significant coup given the film’s restrictive rating and 1980s TV origins. “Jump Street” scored a meh B CinemaScore rating, with under-25 moviegoers giving the film an A.

‘Carter’ charters China biz

While “Jump Street” got off on the right foot B.O.-wise, Disney’s “John Carter” embarked on its first holdover frame with lackluster results.

The $250 million tentpole has reached nearly $180 million worldwide. But that’s still only a fraction of what “Carter” needs to make to become profitable, after exhibitors take their share of the B.O. and Disney’s pricey marketing spend is added to expenses.

The film’s 55% drop was larger than predictions of 45%-50%.

China contributed a solid opening for “Carter,” grossing $10.4 million and making it the second-best local bow ever for a Disney pic behind last year’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.” That’s promising news for “Carter,” and China will likely be one of its top territories.

Elsewhere at the overseas box office, Warner Bros.-New Line’s sturdy repeat player “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” crossed the $300 million global B.O. mark, with an international cume of $207 million.

Fox’s “This Means War,” currently playing in 58 markets, expanded this weekend into Brazil and Mexico, which contributed $1.7 million and $1.4 million, respectively. In total, “War” collected $9.1 million through Sunday, bringing the pic’s overseas tally up to a solid $69.4 million.

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