Updated 9:50 a.m., March 17
"21 Jump Street" took around $13 million on Friday, putting the R-rated comedy on track to open to around $36 million, according to rival-studio estimates.
That is well ahead of Sony's conservative pre-release estimates, which said the movie would take somewhere in the mid-$20 million range. Box-office watchers outside the studio figured "Jump Street" would gross between $31 million and $35 million.
Meanwhile, Universal's animated family film "The Lorax" continued its strong run. While the movie will drop from No. 1 to No. 2 in America in its third weekend of release, it grossed an estimated $6.7 million on Friday and is looking at a $24.6 million weekend.
Disney's unfortunate "John Carter" took $4 million Friday, and is on track to gross around $13 million for the weekend -- enough to put it at No. 3 in North America.
Also worth noting: Lionsgate's "Casa De Mi Padre" pulled $764,000 on Friday, rival-studio estimates show. While that number may not look immediately impressive, the movie is a Spanish-language spoof that opened in only 382 locations. The Will Ferrell film is on track to gross a touch more than $2.4 million in its opening weekend -- enough to put it No. 9 in North America.
Back in 1987, the TV series "21 Jump Street" kicked Johnny Depp's acting career into high gear and gave the fledgling Fox Network an important boost.
Twenty-five years later, the big-screen version of the young-looking-cops-go-undercover-in-high-school show may not do all that for Sony, but it is poised to debut at No. 1 at the North American box office this weekend.
The Fox TV version took itself sort of seriously. Sony's R-rated film version doesn't.
The comedy stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as a pair of cops -- a sharp dork and a not-so-sharp jock -- who are young-looking enough to go undercover in a high school, where they break up a drug ring.
Sony expects the movie to open in the mid-$20 million range. Less conservative box-office watchers outside Sony say the movie will open higher than that -- between $31 million and $35 million.
That sounds about right. Either way, Sony's going to be happy. The film's production budget was around $42 million.
It doesn't seem to matter that Tatum is 31 and Hill is 28, the critics love the film. Rotten Tomatoes had it at 86 Thursday afternoon, Movie Review Intelligence had it at 74.6 and Metacritic had it at 70.
On top of that, tracking is strong, according to the polling firm NRG. The company says that 83 percent of frequent moviegoers are aware of the movie, and that 51 percent of men younger than 25 and 30 percent of those over report "definite" interest in seeing the film.
Those are all strong numbers, and since "21 Jump Street" is the only movie opening wide (3,121 locations) this weekend, there is little competition from other films.
Last week's No. 1 and No. 2 movies, Universal's PG-rated family film "The Lorax" and Disney's disappointing "John Carter," aren't likely to pull from "Jump Street's" audience. The first weekend of "March Madness," the college basketball championship tourney, could cut into its young male target demo, however.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who wrote and directed "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs," directed the movie. Neal H. Moritz produced.
Three other movies -- all rated R -- open in limited release this weekend.
Lionsgate's Spanish-language spoof "Casa De Mi Padre" stars Will Ferrell as Armando Alvarez, a man who has spent his life working on his father's ranch in Mexico. His life gets extra-weird when his brother, international businessman Raul (Diego Luna), shows up with his lovely girlfriend Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez). Armando falls for Sonia, Raul turns out to be corrupt and the feared drug lord Onza (Gael Garcia Bernal) becomes involved.
That movie opens at 382 locations.
Paramount Vantage's comedy "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" stars Jason Segel as an adult who still lives at home -- in the basement. Jason Segel, Ed Helms and Susan Sarandon star in the movie, which opens at 254 locations.
Finally, Anchor Bay opens its "Seeking Justice," an action-thriller starring Nicolas Cage, in 250 locations.
The movie is about a man who hires a vigilante group to get even with the people who assaulted his wife -- only to find they want something from him in return.