Putting the Brothers Back in Bromance Films

Single-Minded: Think Like a Man shows that romantic comedies can attract a black male audience.

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Alan Markfield/Screen Gems Productions, Inc.

Modern bromance movies are usually missing one thing, and that's the brothers. After peaking at the box office in the late 1990s and early 2000s with films like The Best Man, The Wood and the aptly named The Brothers, romantic comedies featuring an ensemble cast of black male leads were largely replaced by movies centered on black men in drag.

Hold on to your girdle, though, because all that might be about to change. Surprisingly, it took a book marketed to women to make a movie marketed to men.

Steve Harvey's best-selling relationship guide Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man blew up on the big screen last weekend retitled as Think Like a Man, pulling in nearly $33 million at the box office and knocking that other page-turner-turned-popcorn seller, The Hunger Games, from its three-week-long top spot.

So are you a Zeke, a Jeremy, a Michael or a Dominic?

Because what's even more exciting than the fact that a black rom-com bested the reigning box office champion is that more than half the seats in the theater were filled by men. According to the Hollywood Reporter, "Males turned out in force, making up 63 percent of [Think Like a Man's] audience."

Starring Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Kevin Hart, Terrence Jenkins and Romany Malco, the film begins on the basketball court and the games continue from there. Instead of appealing solely to the book's built-in female audience by chronicling the relationship-related suffering of the film's talented chorus of women -- Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall, Meagan Good and Gabrielle Union -- the movie shifts its focus to the men. A bold move that actually pays off, according to several men who write frequently about relationships.

"It's surprising that a movie based on a book that so many men resented is now really successful [as a movie] because men came out to see it," says Jozen Cummings, a frequent contributor to The Root and creator of the relationship blog Until I Get Married, which chronicles his dating life in New York City.

Professional matchmaker and relationship coach Paul Carrick Brunson, whose new series, Lovetown, USA, premieres on OWN this summer, is also interested in the shifting perception of what makes men tick when it comes to ticket sales.

"The fact that men turned out in droves to watch a romantic comedy is a good illustration that we're not these nonemotional Neanderthals we're normally painted as," explains Brunson, who hasn't seen the film yet (wife, baby, TV show) but who plans to soon. "I've heard directly from men that Think Like a Man was a good movie and that Kevin Hart 'was funny as hell.' "

True, Hart, who plays the newly divorced-and-loving-it Cedric, steals nearly every scene he's in with too-good one-liners like when he explains the three rings of marriage: "the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering." Funny as he is, though, Hart's comedy is only half the storyline. There is lots of romance to be had in Think Like a Man, and the men in the audience had to sit through those scenes, too. The question is, are men just as interested in soaking in some relationship advice from the screen as women are?

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