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’22 Jump Street’ ‘Dragon 2’ Open Strong at Thursday Box Office

22 Jump Street” raked in a muscular $5.5 million and “How to Train Your Dragon 2” debuted to a sterling $2 million on Thursday night, in what is shaping up to be a battle of sequels at the weekend box office.

The sequel’s late numbers easily eclipse the $700,000 that the first “Jump Street” made in its midnight showings, as well as the $2.6 million Thursday debut of “Neighbors,” another recent R-rated comedy. The film began playing at 7 p.m. to audiences in 2,746 locations.

How to Train Your Dragon 2” begin screening at 8 p.m. Though lower than the figure for “22 Jump Street,” it’s a strong opening given that the animated film’s core audience is a younger one with earlier bedtimes.

Both “22 Jump Street” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2” are expected to debut north of $50 million, according to tracking. Some analysts are predicting openings closer to $60 million, although the studios are being more conservative.

Sony Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s “22 Jump Street” carries a $65 million budget. The first film opened to $36.3 million in 2012, ultimately grossing $138.4 million. The sequel finds the undercover cops played by Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill taking their act to college. It expands to 3,300 theaters this weekend.

DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2” cost $145 million to produce and has the distinction of being one of the few animated films released this summer, an enviable position for a family-focused production. It will expand to 4,235 locations and should emerge as the weekend’s box office champ. Twentieth Century Fox is distributing the picture as part of its pact with DreamWorks Animation.

Released in 2011, the first “Dragon” opened to $43.7 million, ultimately grossing $217.6 million domestically.

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