Posted by Media Outrage on April 23rd, 2012
Think Like A Man did the damn thing in box office numbers opening weekend to the tune of $33 million! The comedy was showed on a little bit more than 2000 screens which makes its outcome even more impressive.
It was an ‘everybody wins’ weekend at the box office as all three openers outperformed even the most optimistic expectations. The number one film of the weekend was not The Hunger Games but rather Think Like A Man. The all-star romantic comedy based off of Steve Harvey’s best-selling relationship self-help book grossed a somewhat surprising $33 million on just over 2000 screens. The Screen Gems film was notable in that the small studio made a real effort to market the African-American-centric rom-com both to black males and white audiences (Vulture has a detailed article about the marketing campaign). Racial demographics aren’t available yet, but the film played 63 percent female and 62 percent over 30. For what it’s worth, it earned an A from Cinemascore, including an A+ from audiences under 25. Even more impressive is that the film achieved a near -3x, including a token increase on Saturday (from $12 million to $13 million). The film has a ton of ‘would probably be a bigger star in a color-blind society’ actors, including Gabrielle Union, Meagan Good, Michael Ealy, Steve Harvey, and Taraji P. Henson. But the secret weapon may have been comedian Kevin Hart, who powered his stand-up concert film, Laugh At My Pain to $7 million last September despite playing on less than 300 screens. Pay no attention to this large opening folks, nothing to see about an under-served audience demographic delivering near-blockbuster numbers on a $13 million budget. Just move along and keep putting Anthony Mackie in fourth-billed supporting roles.
There will be lots of talk comparing this film to the Tyler Perry cannon, but know this: If the estimates hold up, Tim Story’s decidedly secular romantic comedy will have opened higher than every Perry feature save the $41 million debut of Madea Goes To Jail. In fact, aside from that Perry release, I can’t think of another African American comedy or drama that opened as high as this one perhaps ever. How well the film holds up over the long haul is an open question, and arguably *that’s* where the attempt at cross-racial outreach come into play. If Screen Gems can convince white audiences that this isn’t so much a ‘black film’ as much as it’s a Valentine’s Day-type ensemble piece that happens to star actors of color, it may have strong legs as its sampled by general moviegoers of all races for the next month (What To Expect When You’re Expecting debuts May 18th). Tim Story’s 2002 Barbershop parlayed a $20 million debut into a $75 million total while Screen Gems opened Obsessed to $28 million and finished with $68 million just over three years ago this weekend. A multiplier right in-between those two will net a $100 million domestic total for the $13 million picture. Next weekend will tell the tale. The African American moviegoing demographic is a consistently starved one, so there is obviously big profit to be made with mainstream popcorn entertainment that just happens to star actors of color. We’ll see whether Hollywood takes notice *this time* or whether its success is written off yet again as a fluke while they greenlight John Carter 2: The Quickening.
Sony Pictures is in shock that its Screen Gems sleeper Think Like A Man based on the bestselling book by TV/radio comedian Steve Harvey and starring new comedy star Kevin Hart is North America’s #1 movie. But also by its gross through Sunday looking like double what execs predicted. And Saturday’s number was up +9% from Friday’s figure. The weekend total may finish as high as $33M. And yet this urban comedy — like it or not, that’s what the movie industry calls this genre — was playing in only 2,017 locations. It was aimed squarely at African-Americans ages 13 to 49 but then wound up crossing over big-time with all audiences regardless of race and sex. Opening weekend demos show that the campaign attracted an audience mix of 37% males and 63% females: 38% were under 30, and 62% were 30 and over. Pic earned an ‘A’ CinemaScore from audiences: ‘A+’ Males, ‘A’ Females, ‘A+’ under age 25, ‘A’ every other category. Big online ticket seller Fandango called this contest early when it reported thatThink Like A Man was its top-selling movie grabbing a healthy 42% of Thursday’s sales. “The movie had a negative cost between $12M-$13M so we’re thrilled,” a Sony exec emails me. “Any weekend where you make back the negative cost in the first weekend is a good weekend in our books.”
I’m amused how everybody is getting in line now to tell me all the execs and talent responsible for the huge success of this movie. But, first, let’s not forget that Jeff Blake’s ace marketing and distribution team can sell virtually anything. And no doubt Clint Culpepper is on a hot streak: this is Screen Gems’ third #1 film of the year, and Sony Pictures’ fourth #1 in 2012. Besides Harvey, comedian Kevin Hart deserve credit for turning out his rabid fanbase by endlessly promoting the pic and dominating the social media conversation about it. Hart is still a fairly fresh film star: his 2011 standup comedy film Laugh At My Pain shocked the industry by making Top 10 numbers despite playing in very few theaters. Harvey’s and Hart’s and the cast’s popularity allowed Sony to take advantage of some 40+M social connections on Facebook and Twitter. And then there’s Tim Story (Barbershop, Fantastic Four 1and 2) who directed the film. “How many prominent African American film comedy directors are there after all who have helmed a mainstream breakout hit?” one insider gushed to me. And then there’s African American producer Will Packer, whose small budget-big rewards hits include Takers, Obsessed,and Stomp The Yard. Besides Harvey, screenwriting credit went to David A. Newman and Keith Merryman.
Knowing that the story skewed towards women, the studio’s marketing strived to position the movie from a male point of view while not turning off the female audience. The trailer debuted with New Year’s Eve, and it also ran with The Vow, Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds, and Red Tails. The usual high-profile sports games were employed, as well as a ’Behind The NBA’ promotion featuring Kevin Hart, Charles Barkley, Ernie Johnson, and Kevin Smith. The film took advantage of a lot of radio cross-promotion, including screening programs and flyaway promotions. It also took over Harvey’s morning show during the first week of April with the actresses on one day, and the actors the following day. Sony also reached out to radio DJs from top urban markets, inviting them to the press junket and hosting a special cast dinner with the biggest African American bloggers and websites. Studio also had a big presence on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities, and hosted special fraternity screenings in select markets. Other urban media outlets across TV, radio, print, and outdoor were saturated by Sony. BET created full blocks of programming dedicated to Think Like A Man, and all special programming attracting African American viewers were utilized including the BET Honors, the NAACP Image Awards, and America’s Next Top Model.
Mediaoutrage- We’re glad to see that audiences pushed to the theaters in droves to support the African-American comedy and we hope to see many more grace our theaters after this kind of success. They better stop fronting on the power of the black dollar! It’s a shame how they only play black films on a reduced amount of screens compared to films with a majority white cast. This racism must stop.
The cast thanks YOU below for your support in making Think Like A Man the number one movie in the country.