’21 Jump Street’ Arrests Box Office With $35 Million Debut

Big-screen adaptation of '80s TV show enjoyed the highest debut for a comedy set in high school.
By Ryan J. Downey

Jonah Hill in "21 Jump Street"
Photo: Columbia Pictures

"21 Jump Street" arrested audiences over the weekend to the tune of a cool $35 million at the box office. The action comedy, which was the only widely released new film in theaters and the only movie in the top five to enjoy mostly positive reviews, easily took the #1 spot. A great marketing campaign, two well-liked stars and a familiar premise derived from the late-'80s cop show all contributed to the movie's success, according to industry watchers.

"Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" was #2 with $22.8 million, officially passing "Horton Hears a Who!" with its $158.4 million-and-climbing haul. Disney's big-budget "John Carter" was #3, dropping 55 percent in its second weekend, earning $13.5 million for a total of $53.1 million. Found-footage party movie "Project X" was #4 on the box-office scorecard with $4 million for a $48.1 million total. Eddie Murphy's "A Thousand Words" rounded out the top five with just $3.7 million for a $12.1 million total. The box-office bomb carried a startling 0 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes' "Tomatometer" at press time, meaning not a single critic has reviewed the film positively.

Will Ferrell's "Casa de Mi Padre" and Jason Segel's "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" both opened in limited release to respectable (if not gangbuster) per-screen business. Ferrell's Spanish-language spaghetti-western comedy, which co-stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Genesis Rodriguez and Diego Luna, was #9 with $2.2 million. "Casa" was in 382 theaters, which was roughly 170 more than "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" (by comparison, "21 Jump Street" played at more than 3,000 theaters). "Jeff" is the latest movie from mumblecore veterans Mark and Jay Duplass, who directed "21 Jump Street" co-star Jonah Hill as the title character in "Cyrus."

"Jump Street" enjoyed the highest opening ever for a comedy set in high school, surpassing Hill's own "Superbad" ($33.05 million). The 28-year-old earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor thanks to his dramatic turn in "Moneyball," and co-star Channing Tatum's "The Vow" made well over $100 million earlier this year. "21 Jump Street" (in which the pair play cops who go undercover in a high school) has an 87 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. "Completely abandoning earnest teenagers-in-crisis melodrama in favor of crude, aggressive comedy, this '21 Jump Street' is an example of how formula-driven entertainment can succeed," wrote The New York Times' A.O. Scott.

"21 Jump Street" is a comedic take on the Fox crime drama that ran from 1987 to 1991. The movie's opening was stronger than many television adaptations, beating flicks like "The Dukes of Hazzard" ($30.7 million) and "The A-Team" ($25.7 million). On Saturday, Variety reported that Sony is pursuing a sequel with both stars returning."Jump Street" also stars Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Brie Larson and Rob Riggle and features music from Devo frontman and "Yo Gabba Gabba!" co-star Mark Mothersbaugh.

"The Hunger Games" is expected to dominate the box office this weekend.

Check out everything we've got on "21 Jump Street."

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