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Success of "Think Like a Man Too" shaking up Hollywood

The comedy sequel "Think Like a Man Too" has proven to be another hit for Sony Pictures, as the film landed in the top spot in its opening weekend, scoring $30 million at the box office, just edging out another sequel, "22 Jump Street," by an estimated $1 million. "Think" doubled the box office of the week's other high-profile release, director Clint Eastwood's "Jersey Boys." "Think," which stars Michael Ealy, Meagan Good and Kevin Hart, builds on the success of its predecessor, 2012's "Think Like a Man."

The Sequel Is Equal

"Think Like a Man" proved to be a surprise box office hit in 2012, opening in late April to the tune of $33 million. Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film went on to gross $96 million during its run. More importantly, it was extremely profitable for Sony and distributor Screen Gems, since the film's total budget was just $12 million, a small sum in the era of nine-figure blockbuster movie budgets.

While "Think Like a Man Too" doubled the original's budget at $24 million, it is still already profitable thanks to its strong opening weekend. The sequel is on track to finish close to the same final box office tally as the original, a rarity in the film industry. The sequel's performance is even more impressive considering that it is opening against tougher competition in the summer, as opposed to the late-spring opening date of the original.

The success of both movies shows that it is not necessary to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to score a major box office hit, particularly in an era when the home video market is often more profitable for a film.

Though the second "Think" film is not a hit with critics, audiences are delivering strong word-of-mouth for the sequel. An "A-" CinemaScore indicates that fans of the first film are returning for the second film and seem to be satisfied with the results. This points to an overall successful box office run that has the potential to extend this franchise.

Kevin Hart, Movie Star

Though Hart has long been a popular stand-up comedian, he has not enjoyed much success in films until 2014. After years of toiling away in small supporting roles and lead roles in box office flops such as "Soul Plane" and "Paper Soldiers," Hart scored a major hit with the comedy "Ride Along." The action comedy proved to be a huge success right out of the gate, grossing more than $41 million on its opening weekend. This is particularly impressive considering the film was released in January, usually not a month for major blockbuster movies.

Despite negative reviews, "Ride Along" cruised to a $153 million gross, setting the stage for Hart's continued success with "Think Like a Man Too." A sequel to "Ride Along" is already in the works, meaning that Hart may have two major movie franchises on his hands. With so few bankable African-American film stars in Hollywood, Hart is a much-needed breath of fresh air. There is no question that his presence in "Think" has buoyed its box office. It seems that the major studios are finally taking notice of this funnyman's immense talent.

Erasing the Color Barrier

Hollywood has consistently treated comedy or drama films starring African-American actors as niche films, relegating them to less desirable release dates and limiting their budgets to ensure profitability. Thanks to the success of movies such as "Think Like a Man Too," that perception is rapidly changing. Audiences of all ethnicities are responding well to these films, ensuring that the box office success is there if the movie connects with its audience in an entertaining, engaging way.

African-American directors such as Tyler Perry and Lee Daniels have created high-quality films in recent years that have earned critical accolades, loyal fans and strong profits. The fact that a movie such as "Think Like a Man Too" can open against strong competition in the middle of the summer and still succeed proves that moviegoers are ready and waiting for good films, regardless of who stars in them.

All signs point to a strong box office run for "Think Like a Man Too," as the movie is able to capitalize on the rising profile of Kevin Hart and an engaging story to entice film fans to line up at the theaters. It is not yet clear how this film's groundbreaking performance will affect Hollywood in the future, but it is making a positive impact in the present.

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