"Think Like a Man Too," raised the roof at multiplexes this weekend, carousing its way to $30 million domestically, according to studio estimates.
The Sony Pictures and Screen Gems sequel premiered on 2,225 screens and cost a modest $24 million to produce. It was able to capitalize on star Kevin Hart's rising profile as it held off challenges from "22 Jump Street" and "How to Train Your Dragon 2."
"It's not bad being number one," said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of worldwide distribution. "The girls versus the guys element and getting the perspective of both sexes is something that's always appealing to folks."
However, it could not match the $33.6 million debut of the first film in the series in what was altogether a ho-hum weekend at the U.S. box office.
Overall, the box office hit roughly $140 million, down 40% from the same period a year ago, when "World War Z" and "Monsters University" vied for moviegoers' attention.
"It's pretty lackluster overall, but especially looking at the same weekend last year," said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. "These were not good comparisons."
The weekend's other new release, "Jersey Boys," Clint Eastwood's adaptation of the venerable Broadway musical about the Four Seasons, hit a false note, debuting to a meager $13.5 million. The Warner Bros. release cost an economical $40 million to produce and premiered on 2,905 screens.
The studio believes the film will be able to bolster its modest initial grosses over the coming weeks by offering older crowds an alternative to Transformers and superheroes.
"It's the music and soul of an older audience and they do go to the movies, it just takes them awhile, but they will get there," said Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros.
"It's going to be a marathon," he added, noting the film had an A- CinemaScore rating and played particularly well to audiences 25 years and older. "It's going to have legs and play nicely."
In their second weeks of release, DreamWorks Animation's "Dragon 2" and Sony Pictures' "22 Jump Street" earned $25.3 million and $29 million respectively. The animated film has now earned $95 million domestically, while the undercover cop comedy passed $111 million stateside.
Overseas, "22 Jump Street" added an estimated $14.1 million this weekend from 30 territories, bringing its foreign total to $38.2 million.
"This is shaping up to be one of the biggest R-rated comedies of all time," said Bruer.
Many of the weekend's top releases were unable to hit their tracking numbers. Going into the weekend, analysts were expecting bigger figures from the top four films, predicting at least three pictures would hit or exceed $30 million -- a projection that did not come to pass.
In terms of holdovers, "Maleficent," Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" overhaul, captured fifth place with an estimated $13 million, bringing its domestic total to $186 million.
"The Fault in Our Stars," enhanced its capacious profit margins, adding $8.6 million to its take over the weekend. The $12 million production has now earned $98.7 million stateside after three weeks in multiplexes.
The first "Think Like a Man" closed out its run with $91.5 million stateside. The follow-up film, brings back director Tim Story, as well as cast members such as Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall and Jerry Ferrara, sending them to Las Vegas for a wedding ceremony that involve bachelor and bachelorette parties that take full advantage of all that Sin City has to offer.
Reviews have not been kind -- "Think Like a Man Too" currently holds a 22% "rotten" ranking on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics may have been immune to its charms, but the film played well with younger females, posting a demographic breakdown that was 37% male and 63% female, with 41% of the audience under the age of 30.
In limited release, Sony Pictures Classics debuted Paul Haggis' "Third Person," a sprawling look at three different relationships in as many cities, to $42,046 on five screens. Open Road's "Chef" continued to show strength in its seventh week of release, adding $1.8 million to its haul and bringing its domestic total to $16.9 million.
Next weekend brings the debut of "Transformers: Age of Extinction." After such a drab weekend at the box office, Hollywood undoubtedly hopes the robot sequel will be the proverbial tide that lifts all boats.
"There's excitement," said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. "['Transformers'] is putting every teenager around the planet into a fanboy frenzy."
Related storiesBox Office: 'Think Like a Man Too' Dominating With $34 Million OpeningSocial Media Buzz: Kevin Hart's 'Think Like a Man Too' Set for Top SpotClint Eastwood Offers History Lesson as 'Jersey Boys' Closes L.A. Film Festival 2014 Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media; Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLCCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun