Box Office: '22 Jump Street' Opens to Stellar $5.5 Million Thursday Night

UPDATED: Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill reprise their roles in the Sony sequel; "How to Train Your Dragon 2" also prospers in its Thursday night debut, earning $2 million.

Sony and MGM's sequel 22 Jump Street, starring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill as two bumbling undercover police officers, grossed an outstanding $5.5 million as it began rolling out Thursday night in North America.

DreamWorks Animation and Fox's How to Train Your Dragon 2 also did pleasing business as it debuted Thursday night, earning $2 million, a strong number for a family title.

22 Jump Street is the highest-testing R-rated comedy in Sony's history and should zoom past $50 million over Father's Day weekend, putting it in a potentially close race with Dragon 2 for the No. 1 spot, although Dragon 2 has the advantage of being the summer's first animated family film (bullish box-office observers believe the two films could even gross between $55 million and $60 million).

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The Sony title did nearly double the Thursday-night business that Neighbors enjoyed in May ($2.5 million), although 22 Jump Street had the advantage of many schools and colleges being on summer break. Neighbors went on to gross nearly $50 million for the weekend.

Last weekend, 22 Jump Street debuted to an eye-popping $8.1 million in the U.K., compared to $2.5 million for 21 Jump Street, released in March 2012.

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (The Lego Movie) directed the original and the sequel, which sees the title characters go undercover at a local college. Moviegoers between the ages of 17 and 34 are the most ardent fans of Jump Street, both females and males.

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Released in March 2012, 21 Jump Street, the adaptation of the 1980s television series, debuted to $36.3 million on its way to grossing $201.6 million globally.

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Dragon 2 opens at a critical time for Jeffrey Katzenberg's DWA, which has suffered a string of box-office misfires, including its most recent film, Mr. Peabody & Sherman. Dean DeBlois returned to direct Dragon 2, which follows the heroic Viking Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his faithful dragon as they try to save the world from the power-hungry Drago. The voice cast also features Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, Craig Ferguson, America Ferrera and Jonah Hill.

The first Dragon opened to $43.7 million in March 2010 on its way to earning $494.9 million globally. Dragon 2 opens in 20 international markets this weekend, including Russia. The animated film hopes to benefit by providing counterprogramming to the World Cup, which gets underway in Brazil on Friday.

Fox's The Fault in Our Stars and Maleficent should both perform well in their second and third weeks, respectively. Fault, the cancer drama adapted from John Green's popular YA novel, earned $48 million in its domestic debut last weekend. The Angelina Jolie-starrer Maleficent opened May 30, earning $69.4 million domestically in its debut, and had a solid hold to earn $34.3 million in its second week.