"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.
"22 Jump Street's" late numbers easily eclipses 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 $36.3M 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. 20th 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.
Related stories'How to Train Your Dragon 2â² Tops '22 Jump Street' in Weekend Pre-SalesBox Office: 'How to Train Your Dragon,' 'Jump Street' Sequels to Jockey for No. 1Phil Lord on '22 Jump Street's' Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill: 'Like Watching a Mountain Lion and a Baby Become Friends' 2014 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLCCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun