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Scott Mendelson

Scott Mendelson

Posted: September 14, 2009 07:26 PM

Tyler Perry's newest film opens at number one (again) while new horror films flop. Weekend box office in review for 09/13/09


In this current decade, Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay, Steven Soderbergh, Peter Jackson, and Brett Ratner have all had four number one openings. Tim Burton, Bryan Singer, Sam Raimi, and Christopher Nolan have had three. Counting his first film on which he was the writer and producer but not officially the director (Diary Of A Mad Black Woman), Tyler Perry has had dominated five opening weekends just since February 2005. The only other director who can equal that is Gore Verbinski (The Mexican, The Ring, and Pirates of the Caribbean 1, 2, and 3). At this point, it's no longer exciting to discuss another Tyler Perry-dominated weekend. He is without a doubt the most consistent draw in film today. His film may never top $100 million, but they also never cost more than $20 million to make. He is a one-man cash cow and Lionsgate is darn lucky that he hasn't decided to start self-distributing. While Lionsgate may be the house that Jigsaw built, it is currently the house that Madea maintains. And as long as he enjoys the mutually beneficial relationship, Perry's films will continue to rake in the cash for the mini-major long after Tobin Bell has moved on.

For the record, Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself opened to $23 million, which is Perry's third biggest-opening weekend and the biggest opening for a film without Madea's name specifically in the title. I'm frankly surprised that someone somewhere didn't find a way to include the popular matriarch in the marquee, since the film (based on Perry's second play) is actually the first of Perry's works to feature Madea (and for those wanting to make the Kanye West incident into a racial thing, we should remember that Madea Simmons would have kicked his butt). The Tyler Perry franchise has famously had terrible weekend-to-total multipliers, with several in the 2.1x area. So expect this new one to follow suit and end its run with just under $50 million. The other openers ranged from slightly disappointing to outright flops. The animated post-apocalyptic fantasy 9 ended its five-day weekend with $15 million. The $33 million feature was an ambitious adaptation of director Shane Acker's Oscar-winning short, spearheaded by producers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (Nightwatch, Wanted). The PG-13 rated animated sci-fi fable will likely be a minor cult item in years to come, so the film will be a longterm investment for Focus.

The other two openers were both horror titles, and both more or less flopped. Sorority Row, a remake of a 1980s slasher picture, opened to just $5.5 million. This may just prove that Summit Entertainment is at a loss when it comes to marketing anything that is not a Twilight film or a star-driven project like Knowing. Lionsgate could have opened this to around $12 million with its R-rating intact, and Screen Gems likely would have chopped it down to a PG-13 and opened it to around $20 million. Warner Bros also failed to catch the usually profitable horror wave with Whiteout. Loosely adapted from a graphic novel by Greg Rucka, the 'something's killing people in the arctic' picture opened with just $4.9 million. This was sold completely on star Kate Beckensale's shoulders, but the picture had the conundrum of selling a star primarily known for her sex appeal (it's not like Sheldon, Leonard, Wolowitz, or Rajesh have seen Snow Angels) while advertising a film that kept the Underworld star bundled up for the entire picture. Oh, and the remake of Fritz Lang's Beyond a Reasonable Doubt opened on five screens to a whopping $17,364. Um, Anchor Bay, didn't they already more or less remake that picture as The Life Of David Gale?

As for the rest of the holdovers, Inglourious Basterds crossed the $100 million mark on Saturday and now sits with $103 million. District 9 is starting to fall a bit, dropping 50% in weekend five. But it's at $108 million and should crawl its way to $120 million. Like Crank and War before it, Lionsgate's Labor Day action picture Gamer dropped hard in weekend two (-65%), so the (hopefully low-budget) video game action picture should crawl to about $25 million before finding a second life as an impulse rental. At $58 million, The Final Destination is now the highest grossing in the series, as well as by far the worst of the nearly decade-long franchise. In terms of tickets sold, it will end up second to the original picture when all is said and done. And with just $21 million after two weekends and a second-weekend drop of 49%, All About Steve will have the irony of being one of Sandra Bullock's lowest-grossing star vehicles ever (ironic because it's the followup to a $161 million-grossing The Proposal, which bested her current record by about $40 million).

Julie & Julia, at $85 million, is getting closer to a first-release gross of $100 million than I expected. And GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra is at $144 million; it will cross $150 million and then be pulled instantly. In Warner Bros news, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince now sits just $1.5 million away from the $300 million mark. Again, expect it to cross said milestone and immediately vanish from theaters. The Hangover is now at $272 million. Amazingly, the $45 million-budgeting comedy is now the seventh-highest grossing film in Warner history (and the third-highest grossing Warner Bros film that isn't a Harry Potter picture). Amusingly enough, nine of the top-15 Warner Bros grossers are either a Harry Potter film or a Batman picture. Expect the boy who lived to further dominate the 'Dream Factory' when the last two films come out over the next two years.

That's all the news this weekend on the domestic front (elsewhere, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs became the third-highest grossing film of all time in overseas box office). Join us next weekend when another crowded slate brings us Steven Soderbergh's attempt at a fifth top-spot debut with the Matt Damon white-collar-crime-comedy The Informant!, while Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs brings the beloved book to life in a narrative that apparently rips off the first act of Meet the Robinsons. Also debuting in somewhat limited release (1800 screens) is the Jennifer Aniston/Aaron Eckhart vehicle Love Happens, which sounds far too close to the Hugh Grant/Julia Roberts comedy featured on The Simpsons - Love Is Nice. I'm personally looking forward to the gossipy punditry when said romantic comedy shockingly fails to do the business of Brad Pitt's Inglourious Basterds (you watch... idiots will draw carp accordingly). But the most closely watched debut will be Jennifer's Body, which will test both the all-by-herself star power of Megan Fox as well as the alleged bankability of writer Diablo Cody (she of Juno). I've got nothing against Fox (unlike so many others), but if I go, it'll be more for the sight of Amanda Seyfried in hot-nerd glasses.

Scott Mendelson

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