First tracking for 22 Jump Street arrived online Thursday, and early indicators point to an opening north of $55 million for the anticipated sequel starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.
Audience surveys indicate higher interest from women under 25 than is typical for R-rated laughers. Chalk that up to Tatum's presence and the widely praised chemistry between his and Hill's Jenko and Schmidt characters in the loose 2012 adaptation. That flick opened to a healthy $36.3 million in March before legging out to $138.5 million domestically. Overall interest from men and women is also significantly ahead of Hill's previous summer comedy, This is the End, at the same point before release.
Twitter activity is particularly impressive with over 113,000 tweets in the last week, trending five times stronger than Neighbors (which broke out to a $49 million opening earlier this month). The exponential difference can partly be explained by Jump's nature as a sequel and its popularity with Twitter's core teenage/young adult crowd.
Nevertheless, there's clearly huge demand for the June 13 release. 22 Jump has generated more than 57,000 anticipating votes from the Flixster community--24 percent more than The Hangover Part III tallied by the time it opened to $41.7 million last year (excluding $11.8 million from its full Thursday opening).
Another factor in play is the return of Phil Lord and Chris Miller as the directing team. The duo, having helmed the first movie, are fresh off their crossover success with February's The LEGO Movie. The animated blockbuster has earned $255 million domestically.
The box office explosion of R-rated comedies in recent years suggests that 22 Jump Street, as the headlining comedy of 2014, is next in line for big business. An argument can be made that this is the most widely anticipated of its niche since The Hangover Part II, which earned a record $86 million three-day opening over Memorial Day weekend in 2011. It's still too early to peg the Jump sequel that high, but Sony is wisely striking while this new found franchise iron is hot.
Between Hill's successful balancing act of commercial and artistic success (coming off his second Oscar nomination), Tatum's increasing popularity as a leading man, and the directing team's winning streak with both audiences and critics, 22 Jump Street has everything it needs to continue building fervent buzz over the next few weeks.
Also opening on June 13 is the anticipated DreamWorks sequel, How to Train Your Dragon 2. The two films have little crossover audience, which should translate to a very busy weekend at the box office come mid-June.
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