Why Think Like A Man Was A Surprise Success at the Box Office

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What do you know? It took rom-com Think Like a Man to knock Hunger Games off its four week throne. Based on Steve Harvey’s New York Times best-seller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, the film far surpassed its $17 million projections and raked in $33 million opening weekend, topping The Lucky One and Hunger Games respectively. The never-ending quest for love is real.

Although rom-coms are popular in the sense that many of them become household names, they aren’t always respected. Yet we can’t resist the good and the awfully bad love movies that make us laugh and say, “Awwww. How cute.” But who would have thought a dating movie with a predominantly black cast would be the one to give Hunger Games a run for its money? Here are five reasons Think Like a Man knocked it out of the park.

1. Oprah co-signed the book.

If Mother Oprah puts her name to anything (except her OWN Network, of course), it’s a hit. Being on Oprah’s show opened Harvey up to a whole new demographic. With that one nod from the Queen herself, the success of the book and its adaptation was inevitable.

2. Women love dating advice, even when it comes from questionable sources.

According to the L.A. Times, “Moviegoers who saw Think Like a Man — a largely female crowd, 62 percent of whom were 30 or older — loved the film, assigning it an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore.” Of course women flocked to theaters in droves: There’s a certain fascination with listening to advice doled out by men on to find love, which is why self-help relationship books are one of the top selling genres. Tell a woman sexist advice on how to get and keep a man, even if you’ve been married three times yourself, cha-ching!

3. The cast transcends the story.

Although the movie may have followed the same formulaic script we’ve seen time and time again (i.e. Jumping the Broom, which grossed $37 million overall) the all-star cast carried the film. From Essence.com writer Demetria Lucas, “TLAM also impressed me by getting good actresses out of the roles they’ve been typecast for. [Meagan] Good’s been a sexpot/bad-girl hybrid so often that fans started to believe that’s who she was in real life. And while she plays that role well (hence all the casting), TLAM shows her as a well-intentioned good girl who’s been getting it wrong (similar to Paula Patton in Jumping the Broom). [Gabrielle] Union and [Taraji P.] Henson, who both can get bogged down playing feisty, tough-as-nails characters, get a chance to relax a little and show some much welcomed vulnerability.”

Can we please talk about the eye candy, anyone, anyone? For the ladies, there was Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Terrence Jenkins, Kevin Hart and Romany Malco. Then, there’s Taraji P. Henson, La La Anthony, Regina Hall, Gabrielle Union and Meagan Good to drool over for two hours. Yeah, Meagan Good. Need I say more?

4. Kevin Hart is having a moment. A hilarious one.

People love to laugh. Mix that in with relationship drama? Yeah, buddy. Kevin Hart is without a doubt the breakout star. He carries the movie with his effortless comedic abilities. When watching the early screening of the film, my own non-scientific study says about 80 percent of the movie had people literally clutching their stomachs from laughing so hard. From Michael Phillips of the L.A. Times: “The movie may be the very definition of contrivance, coming as it does from the blithely sexist relationship guide Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man co-written by radio host and comedian Steve Harvey. Considering its source, though, one of the more unpromising comedies of the year has turned out to be pretty funny.”

5. The marketing leading up to the film was bananas.

Harvey’s book was published in January of 2009. That’s nearly three and a half years leading up to the Think Like a Man. It’s sort of like the Beyonce reign. When Bey is about to release new music everything in the entire universe is about Bey, so much so that her music is ingrained in your head. The message of Harvey’s book is etched into people’s brains at this point. As NPR critic Bob Mondello put it: “There’s a promotional impulse driving Think Like a Man. It’s a little more blatant here, with everyone holding up Steve Harvey’s book for the camera at one point or another — including Steve Harvey. All that winking makes it sort of a two-hour infomercial, but a decently amusing one.” Precisely.

[Photo: Sony]

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