Sequels ruled the cineplex this weekend as young cops and a young dragon duked it out at the box office.
22 Jump Street, the follow-up to the 2012 comedy, scored a surprise win at theaters with $60 million, according to studio estimates from box office crunchers Rentrak.
The debut exceeded the projections of analysts, who expected a neck-and-neck race between Street and the animated comedy How to Train Your Dragon 2. Both were expected to collect about $50 million.
But audiences were in the mood for a laugh. Neighbors marked the last broad comedy of summer, and that came out more than a month ago. Since then, moviegoers got a steady diet of action and drama, from the X-Men sequel to Godzilla to Maleficent.
And Street hit the funny bone of critics and fans, earning an 83% approval rating from critics, says Rotten Tomatoes. According to Cinemascore, audiences have it a collective A-minus.
Dragon was no slouch, taking $50 million and second place. And it could have legs, thanks to reviews and word of mouth. About 92% of critics gave that movie a thumbs-up, while audiences gave it a straight A.
Both films also ended the two-week run of original films ruling the box office. Along with Maleficent, the teen drama Fault in Our Stars topped theaters. Still, analysts say, studios did sequels right this time.
"Hollywood may be mostly out of ideas," says Reagan Sulewski, analyst for Box Office Prophets. "But the ideas they're reusing, at least this weekend, are pretty strong."
Maleficent was third with $19 million, followed by the Tom Cruise action film Edge of Tomorrow with $16.2 million.
Stars rounded out the top five with $15.7 million.
Final figures are due Monday.