Once again, Think Like A Man was number one at the box office this weekend. The flick, based on the insulting self-help book by comedian Steve Harvey, only cost about $12 million to make, yet has already earned $60 million. What's interesting is that some folks didn't see this coming. Grady Smith, who writes the "Inside Movies" blog for Entertainment Weekly's website, predicted that The Five-Year Engagement would win the box office with $20 million. The Jason Segel/Emily Blunt flick only made $11.2 mil, putting it at fifth place, behind Pirates! Band of Misfits, The Lucky One, and The Hunger Games.
Lately we've been talking about the dearth of black characters on TV and in movies, and it seems like that could be related to the secret to TLAM's success. The movie has a predominantly black cast (there are two white guys in the crew of friends), and the characters are, for the most part, positive, normal (though very attractive, shoutout to my new boyfriend Michael Ealy) representations of black people. In the TLAM universe, black people are not the one homeless guy on the street or the token sassy neighbor. They've got jobs, a little drama, a sense of humor, the desire to be in love. If we're in a representational desert when it comes to people of color, TLAM is an oasis. In addition, the movie is not about being black. No preachy speeches or mind-numbing discussions about race. It's a silly, fun bit of entertainment, a date movie, a movie a bunch of ladies can see together. It's about relationships, about the stupid things men do, the struggles women face in while dating. A subject with broad appeal (no pun intended), told with an ensemble cast so that there's something for everyone to relate to. Movie experts should not be surprised that audiences are into it, are giving it great word of mouth and that some folks are tweeting that they want to see it again.
Still, like Grady Smith, like Jeremy Kirk of film School Rejects predicted Five Year Engagement would be an "Apatow monster" and win the box office. Doug Norrie of Cinema Blend also thought The Five Year Engagment would do big business over the weekend, and Amy Kaufman of the LA Times called Think Like A Man's weekend box office a "surprise." Seems like two things were at play here: First, movie experts — like Hollywood itself! — underestimate just how much black people like seeing black people on screen. Second, from the joyless trailer to the meh chemistry of the couple to the title, The Five-Year Engagement came off as a yawn. Postponing your wedding for years because life gets in the way? Who cares? What's the problem? Where's the tension? Snoozeville compared to telling a woman to think like a man.
Box office preview: Will 'The Five-Year Engagement' earn as much as 'Bridesmaids'? [EW]
Box office report: 'Think Like A Man' wins again with $18 million [EW]
Box Office: 'Think Like a Man' is surprise No. 1 again [Updated] [Company Towm/LAT]