The freshman week of the high-school action comedy 21 Jump Street leaped ahead of the competition as it earned an estimated $35 million in weekend ticket sales -- not a bad start for a film that was believed to have cost $40-45 million to produce. Moreover, it had several factors working against it. First of all, it was set in a high school, but, because of its R rating, many high-schoolers would have been unable to see it. Second, comedies in general have been struggling at the box office this year. Third, neither of the film's stars, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, is considered a big marquee name. And fourth -- it was competing against March Madness on TV. Helped by the fact that Friday fell during spring school vacation in most areas of the country, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax took in a solid $22.8 million in its third week to place second, according to the studio's estimates. (Additionally, it had earned $14 million between Monday and Thursday.) It has now grossed $156.6 million, about twice what it reportedly cost to produce. But Disney's megabudgeted John Carter showed no signs of recovering from its opening washout. It was down 57 percent to $13.5 million. (Overseas, however, it performed like the blockbuster it was intended to be -- earning $40.7 million, to bring its foreign total to $126.1 million.) Last weekend's other dud, the Eddie Murphy comedy A Thousand Words , also showed no sign of life, as it earned just $3.7 million for the weekend. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the strong debut of Will Ferrell's Casa de me Padre , a spoof of Mexican telenovelas (a kind of limited run soap opera), which took in $2.2 million, good enough for ninth place, despite playing in only 382 theaters -- not to mention the fact that it's subtitled and in mostly (very bad) Spanish. All of this represents a mere prelude to next week's opening of The Hunger Games , which is likely to earn on its own more than the entire box office did this weekend.
The top ten films for the weekend, according to studio estimates compiled by Box Office Mojo 1. 21 Jump Street, $35 million; 2. Dr. Seuss' the Lorax, $22.8 million; 3. John Carter, $13.5 million; 4. Project X, $4 million; 5. A Thousand Words, $3.8 million; 6. Act of Valor, $3.7 million; 7. Safe House, $2.8 million; 8. Journey 2 The Mysterious Island, $2.5 million; 9. Casa de mi Padre, $2.2 million; 10. This Means War, $2.1 million.