March Madness hits the North American box office as three new releases hit the multiplexes hoping to take down the reigning Dr. Suess toon. Tyler Perry returns with his latest comedic drama Meet the Browns, Owen Wilson makes a return of his own in the comedy Drillbit Taylor, and Joshua Jackson jets off to Japan for his horror flick Shutter. The Good Friday holiday will help boost weekend numbers since the majority of students and many adults have the day off. But the start of the NCAA college basketball tournament will keep many male moviegoers and sports fans glued to their flat-screens watching the endless string of games all day everyday over the weekend. Fox meanwhile will try to repeat at number one with its animated hit Horton Hears A Who which could become the top-grossing film of 2008 after only ten days.

Shooting for his fourth $20M+ opener, filmmaker Tyler Perry goes hunting for elephants at the box office with his latest work Meet the Browns. The PG-13 pic stars Angela Bassett as a Chicago single mother down on her luck who travels down to Georgia after the death of her father to meet the family she never knew. Starpower will come primarily from Bassett and from Perry himself who in addition to writing and directing brings the wildly popular Madea character back to the big screen after a two-year absence. The role is small but the marketing has made it known that the outlandish law-breaking matriarch is back for some laughs. Former basketball star Rick Fox also has a major role and could be useful in drawing hoops fans.

Perry has been a dependable box office sensation for over three years now drawing in sizable African American moviegoers with stories that skew a bit female. There’s no reason to believe that Browns will fail to reach the heights of his last film Why Did I Get Married? which opened to $21.4M in October. Good Friday and Easter should help boost the numbers too. Hollywood routinely underestimates Perry’s power so expect a sizzling average here. Hitting his top debut, $30M for Madea’s Family Reunion, may not be in the works, but a strong second place showing is a virtual guarantee. Lionsgate will open Meet the Browns in 2,006 theaters and may find itself with around $23M this weekend.


Rick Fox and Angela Bassett in Meet the Browns

Owen Wilson takes up the title role of Paramount’s new high school comedy Drillbit Taylor playing a homeless soldier of fortune who takes an assignment to protect a trio of teenage nerds. The actor’s biggest commercial hits have come from pairings with other big-name actors like Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller. Here he flies solo as the only star and historically that that has led to small grosses. Younger teens will make up the primary crowd so the PG-13 rating may give pause to parents of kids in the high single digits. A slight male skew is also likely. There’s ample competition so a large debut is not likely, plus Wilson’s main draw comes with adults not twelve-year-olds. The Friday holiday will get things started well, but word-of-mouth will have to take it the rest of the way. Reviews have not been too bright and March Madness will take many boys out of the picture this weekend. Debuting in about 2,700 theaters, Drillbit Taylor could punch up about $12M this weekend.


Owen Wilson in Drillbit Taylor

Another spooky Asian fright film gets the photocopy treatment by the idea-starved American horror industry in Fox’s Shutter. The PG-13 chiller stars Joshua Jackson as a photographer who discovers creepy images of a dead woman in his snapshots. The insatiable horror audience is the target here and the rating will make sure that younger teens up for a scare will be able to buy a ticket. Jackson is far removed from his Dawson’s Creek days and lacks the drawing power he once had. Plus the studio’s marketing push has not been very forceful so awareness is low. Don’t look for this one to open like The Eye or One Missed Call which both bowed in the $12-13M range. The only factors working for it are the 85 minute running time and the fact that there have been no horror films released since the Jessica Alba‘s thriller from the first weekend of February. Snapping into around 2,700 locations, Shutter could gross about $8M this weekend.


Shutter

Fox has no intentions of giving up its hold on the number one spot. The studio’s Seuss hit Horton Hears A Who looks unlikely to be defeated by the newcomers and should take advantage of the Good Friday school holiday to post a better-than-usual sophomore hold. Ice Age dropped by 35% in its second frame in 2002 while its Fox sibling Robots fell by 42% in 2005. Both were March openers but neither had the Easter holiday helping the sophomore session. The well-liked Horton might drop by 30% to about $31M and boost its ten-day total to a robust $91M.

10,000 BC should stabilize after its 53% plunge last weekend. A fall of 45% seems likely giving Warner Bros. $9M for the weekend and $76M after 17 days. A similar decline could await Never Back Down putting it at $4.5M for a ten-day sum of $16M for Summit. Martin Lawrence hasn’t exactly been setting the box office on fire with his latest comedy College Road Trip. The Disney title might drop by 30% to roughly $5.5M and lift its cume to $33M.

LAST YEAR: A six-pack of new releases cleaned house in the top ten led by the animated actioner TMNT which still had turtle power with a $24.3M debut. Warner Bros. went on to bank $54.1M with the toon which had weak legs. The studio followed in second with its Spartan blockbuster 300 which collected $19.9M in its third fight. Modern-day action was at the center of Mark Wahlberg‘s Shooter which opened in third with $14.5M on its way to a solid $47M for Paramount. Disney’s Wild Hogs followed with $13.9M. New Line’s The Last Mimzy bowed in fifth with $10M while the horror sequel The Hills Have Eyes 2 debuted close behind with $9.7M. Final grosses reached $21.5M and $20.8M, respectively. Adam Sandler‘s dramatic turn in Reign Over Me led to a $7.5M launch before a $19.7M finish. Lionsgate suffered the worst opening among the new titles with just $3.5M for the swimming drama Pride which ended with a $7.1M take.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

This week, the prolific Tyler Perry reels off Meet the Browns, his latest examination of African American family life. With that in mind, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at other black directors who’ve followed their own paths to bring personal stories to the screen.

Though critics have yet to fully warm to Perry’s films (his best reviewed effort, Why Did I Get Married?, is at 47 percent on the Tomatometer), there’s no disputing their commercial success. Filling a void that’s been left empty by Hollywood (and much of the overall entertainment targeted at African Americans), Perry’s movies have hit a nerve with black moviegoers. “I know my audience, and they’re not people that the studios know anything about,” Perry has said.


Tyler Perry on the set of Madea’s Family Reunion

He’s not the first black director to attempt to fill that space. As early as the 1910s, African American filmmakers were working to document their experience — or, at the very least, to recast traditional genres with black faces. In 1915, George and Noble Johnson founded the Lincoln Motion Picture Co. in order to cater to the “race” market; later, such pioneers as Oscar Micheaux and Spencer Williams made films in a variety of genres that played to enthusiastic black audiences — and were virtually ignored by whites. (Many race films were screened at “midnight rambles” — so called because segregated cinemas would show movies for blacks at midnight.) In the 1970s, the blaxploitation era ushered in a cast of larger-than-life black action heroes, as well as a sharp crop of black directors.

However, there were a number of young black filmmakers who weren’t interested in following Hollywood archetypes. One was Charles Burnett, who, as a student at UCLA, sought to channel the humanism of Europeans like Jean Renoir and the Italian neorealists into a portrait of blue-collar inner-city life. The result was Killer of Sheep (Certified Fresh at 97 percent), a stunningly beautiful, occasionally funny, and at times achingly sad landmark in the history of independent cinema. The film follows the daily lives of some Watts residents, most notably Stan (Henry G. Sanders) and his wife (Kaycee Moore) and children. Stan works in a slaughterhouse, a job that has taken a toll; he’s constantly looking for something more, and his family finds him cold and distant. Burnett shot the film on a shoestring budget over the course of two years, using non-professional actors; the film was briefly released in 1977, but the rich, evocative soundtrack (featuring Paul Robeson, Louis Armstrong, Etta James, and Earth, Wind, and Fire, among others) became a liability when the rights could not be cleared. (In 2007, the legal issues had been straightened out, and the film received a limited theatrical release.)

Killer of Sheep is very thinly plotted, and probably won’t appeal to those who demand a strong narrative structure. But it has no shortage of striking images: scenes of children at play, of domestic joy and longing, of the poetry of faces, of everyday trials and tribulations. (In one memorable moment, Stan and a friend carry a car motor down a steep flight of stairs and put it in the back of a pickup — and watch it fly out the back as they drive away.) In its own quiet way, Killer of Sheep embodies the disillusionment many felt after the heady promise of the civil rights era. (It’s hard not to get a chill at the scenes of sheep being led to slaughter juxtaposed with those of everyday ghetto life.) John Beifuss of the Memphis Commercial Appeal calls it “a time capsule of 1970s style and attitude that remains utterly timeless in its respect for its characters and its recognition of the despair, passion, boredom, playfulness and cruelty nurtured not just by life in the ghetto but by life itself.”




Of course, the black experience is not confined to the ghetto. It may be an obvious point, but as more African Americans picked up cameras, they began to document life from a number of different perspectives. Case in point: Spike Lee‘s debut feature She’s Gotta Have It, a witty tale of romance set in a more middle class milieu. Shot on a bare-bones budget, Gotta is the story of fiercely independent Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns), who finds herself courted by three very different men: Greer (John Canada Terrell), a narcissistic model; Mars Blackman (Lee), a wacky, childish bike messenger; and Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), a decent, well-meaning guy who also has some control issues. Nola has little problem remaining unattached to these guys, until they become embittered with each other — and demand that she make a choice.

Lee would go on to make greater films (like the nearly perfect Do the Right Thing, 100 percent), as well as movies that delved more deeply into the complexities of the black experience (Get on the Bus [88 percent], for one). But while She’s Gotta Have It may be Lee’s most playful film, it doesn’t shy away from potent, tough questions about identity, class, and the rules of romance. With this early effort, Lee was already on his way to becoming one of American cinema’s most inquisitive, probing filmmakers. “Lee’s first feature posed him as a mid-’80s rival to Woody Allen, nearly equaling him in the psychological authenticity of his characters and perhaps bettering him in grace and virtuosity and sheer creative glee,” wrote Peter Keough of The Chicago Reader.



The 1990s saw an influx of African American filmmaking talent gain commercial and critical success in Hollywood. Some, like John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood, 98 percent) and the Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society, 86 percent), sought to bring a clear eye to the struggles of inner city African Americans, investing their films with incendiary power and bleak grandeur. If those films feel like a gut-punch, George Tillman, Jr‘s Soul Food (Certified Fresh at 80 percent) is more like a comforting hug. But it’s no less significant, in that it proved (if proof was needed) that African American-themed films could follow their own rules — and become huge hits in the process. Soul Food is the story of a family that gathers at the home of Mama Joe (Irma P. Hall) every Sunday for tasty food and honest talk. But when Joe takes ill, the family bonds are ruptured; Joe’s three daughters, workaholic Teri (Vanessa Williams), stay-at-home Mom Maxine (Vivica A. Fox), and sweet newlywed Bird (Nia Long) find themselves in the midst of personal crises that sometimes spill over into the family’s affairs. Maxine and Teri have always been rivals, and Teri and her husband are drifting apart; meanwhile, Bird worries that her new husband Lem (Mekhi Phifer), newly released from the joint, won’t be able to find a job (or fully connect with her tight-knit clan). The story is narrated by Maxine’s young son Ahmad (a wonderful Brandon Hammond), who takes it upon himself to bring everyone together, just like his grandma used to.

If Soul Food‘s plot veers into soap opera territory at times, and if the characters are generally archetypal, the actors invest in their characters such weight that we like these people, despite their faults (it should come as little surprise that the movie inspired a TV spinoff). Soul Food has more than a little to say about the importance of maintaining tradition and familial ties, and the shots of sumptuous dishes are savory enough to qualify as a character in their own right. Peter Stack of the San Francisco Chronicle called Soul Food “a warm, funny, touching African American family drama, the kind of bittersweet melodrama that critics tend to relegate as crowd-pleasing corn. We could use more when it’s this well done.”



In addition, check out the Tinseltown-skewering Hollywood Shuffle (87 percent) the teenage antics of House Party (95 percent), the period intrigue of Eve’s Bayou (79 percent) and the ribald talk of Barbershop (84 percent) for more fine work from talented African American directors.

One of the best films of last year comes to DVD this week (Gone Baby Gone, written and directed by Ben Affleck, starring brother Casey Affleck), but there are tons more to pick from — a NASA documentary, praised by critics (In the Shadow of the Moon), a crime thriller about cops and family (We Own the Night), and (sigh) a new Tyler Perry movie (Why Did I Get Married?). You be the judge!


Gone Baby Gone

Tomatometer: 93%

Casey Affleck stars as Patrick Kenzie, a private investigator hired to search Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood for clues in the abduction of a young girl. Based on Dennis Lehane’s novel and adapted by Ben Affleck and Aaron Stockard, Gone Baby Gone has been hailed by critics for its noirish tension, complex questions of morality, and its realistic immersion into the culture of working class Boston. In his directorial debut, Ben Affleck has crafted one of 2007’s best films; more impressively, he’s done what more established directors before him could not — he’s transformed younger brother Casey Affleck into a leading man. Amy Ryan’s mesmerizing turn as the missing girl’s deadbeat mother is nominated for an Oscar — how do you like them apples? Insightful featurettes and a commentary track with Affleck and Stockard round out this excellent release.

 

In the Shadow of the Moon

Tomatometer: 94%

One intimate, wondrous documentary about NASA’s Apollo program is one giant leap for DVD this week for the Discovery Channel set. If you find yourself flipping through the television for science programs, you’ll marvel at the sight of rockets blasting off in close-up and other archival footage used to poignant effect. Former lunar astronauts like Buzz Aldrin offer their own warm recollections of space travel which remind us of the enormous impact made when man first stepped foot on the moon.

 

Kurt Cobain About a Son

Tomatometer: 74%

Documentarian AJ Schnack crafts a haunting portrait of late Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain — his childhood, his discovery of music, and his tragic rise to fame — without relying on footage or photographs of the grunge legend. Culling from over 25 hours of interviews taped by music journalist Michael Azerrad for his book Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana, the film employs the disembodied voice of Cobain himself to paint a picture of the man within the poster boy for Gen-X anomie. Instead of supplementing his film with songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Schnack offers a soundtrack of Cobain influences like The Melvins, Half Japanese, Iggy Pop and Leadbelly.


 

We Own the Night


Tomatometer: 54%

Nightclub manager Bobby Green (Joaquin Phoenix) is torn between loyalties when his policeman brother (Mark Wahlberg) and father (Robert Duvall) get involved in a deadly anti-crime crusade in 1980s New York. Writer-director James Gray sprinkles in car chases and shoot-outs, but keeps his eyes trained on character drama in this gritty, violent crime thriller. A handful of behind-the-scenes featurettes flesh out the bonus menu, and Eva Mendes also steams up the screen as Green’s hot-blooded girlfriend, Amada.

Romance & Cigarettes


Tomatometer: 52%

If you’ve been waiting for years for John Turturro‘s Romance & Cigarettes (which was originally supposed to hit theaters back in 2005), wait no longer! The star-studded musical — a romantic comedy about iron worker Nick Murder (James Gandolfini) choosing between his wife (Susan Sarandon) and his mistress (Kate Winslet) — is written and directed by the kooky character actor, who came up with the idea while shooting the Coen brothers’ Barton Fink. Along for the ride are thesps Steve Buscemi, Mandy Moore, Eddie Izzard, Mary-Louise Parker, and Christopher Walken, who hoof their way through genre-spanning tunes from Cyndi Lauper to Engelbert Humperdinck.

Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?


Tomatometer: 48%

Even if you’re not a fan of actor/director/playwright Tyler Perry‘s work, you may take some solace knowing one thing: his latest comedy-drama is completely devoid of his iconic family matriarch, Madea. Tackling the topics of marriage and fidelity, Perry directs himself and a cast of stars (Sharon Leal! Janet Jackson! Jill Scott!) in a tale of a group of married friends confronting each other while on a Colorado getaway.

No Reservations


Tomatometer: 39%

Mix one part no-nonsense master chef (Catherine Zeta-Jones) with a dash of a newly orphaned niece (resident cutie pie Abigail Breslin); toss in a rascally brash, easygoing sous chef (Aaron Eckhart) and let stand. Serve well chilled to unimpressed film critics.

The Martian Child


Tomatometer: 28%

Continuing a series of roles as widowed father figures dealing with children (see: Grace is Gone), John Cusack stars as a science-fiction writer with creative block who takes in a young boy who thinks he is an alien. Adapted from the autobiographical novel by David Gerrold (the man who wrote the classic Star Trek episode The Trouble with Tribbles, for what it’s worth), The Martian Child nevertheless garnered mostly scorn from critics for being call-your-dentist saccharine and unbearably sentimental.

So there you have it. Choose wisely, and ’til next week, happy renting!

Tyler Perry — writer, director, and star of films such as Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? and Madea Goes to Jail — is going boldly where hallowed names like Shatner, Nimoy, and Montalban have gone before.

We’re talking about Star Trek, of course — specifically, Star Trek XI, the J.J. Abrams-directed franchise reboot making its way to theaters on December 25. The UGO Movieblog reports that Perry has already filmed his role in Trek XI — and that it’s a character of some importance. Spoilers are involved, so if you want to know the whole scoop, you’ll have to read the full story; for now, suffice it to say the storyline involves a piece of older Trek lore.

Perry may not seem like the most obvious choice for a Trek cameo, but his forays into theater, film, television, and books have earned him a sizeable following — and the distinction of being one of the most bankable talents in show business — so in terms of building crossover appeal, this could be a pretty crafty move by everyone involved. To read more, click on the link below!

Source: UGO Movieblog

This weekend For the first time this decade, a new release seems set to take over the number one spot during the busy Thanksgiving holiday weekend at the North American box office. Studios are cramming a six-pack of new titles into multiplexes nationwide hoping the recent famine in the marketplace will be replaced by a feast. The films lack major stars, but they do however have clearly-defined audiences which will hopefully allow them to survive and expand the overall pie.

Disney leads the way with the fantasy extravaganza Enchanted for young girls while Fox counters with the much more violent action offering Hitman aimed at young men. MGM goes for a scare with the horror film The Mist, Sony targets African American moviegoers with This Christmas, and August Rush from Warner Bros. will try to tap into family audiences. Meanwhile, Miramax goes after older adults and upscale crowds with its acclaimed thriller No Country For Old Men which widens into national release after two weeks of sold out shows in limited play.

Once upon a time, Disney regularly opened a new family film at number one over Thanksgiving weekend. After a long absence, the Mouse House is now poised to take its rightful place on the turkey throne with its fairy tale adventure pic Enchanted which finds an animated princess thrust upon the real world where people do not live happily ever after. The PG-rated film will appeal to the millions of young girls and mothers who have become devotees of Disney’s lucrative army of princesses. Getting in boys may be a bit tough, but the female following should be more than enough to propel this massive release into the top spot at the holiday box office.

Not since 1999’s Toy Story 2 has Disney, or any other studio for that matter, opened a new film at number one over this holiday frame. Holdovers have consistently ruled since 2000, mostly big guns that debuted on the weekend before the holiday to get an early jump on the cash. But from 1994 through 1999, Disney enjoyed an unprecedented streak ruling the Thanksgiving box office every year with an iron fist. Now that magic is back, thanks in part to a surprisingly weak line-up of November titles coming from Hollywood’s magic factories. With the widest release by far of any new film, no holdovers to stand in its way, and a holiday frame that welcomes family entertainment, Enchanted looks to become the queen bee. Opening in an ultrawide 3,632 theaters, the fantasy film may charm its way to about $30M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and $43M during the extended Wednesday-to-Sunday span.


Amy Adams in Enchanted

Fox hopes that young men from coast to coast will stamp their necks with barcodes and hit the megaplexes to see its new action thriller Hitman. Based on the popular video game, the R-rated film about a genetically-engineered superassassin has its eyes set squarely on male audiences done with cartoon Vikings and ready for some guns and ammo. The studio’s marketing has been superb with slickly-edited television spots featuring operatic tunes that really sell the picture to the target audience. Unfortunately there are no marquee names in the cast to help bring in business. Direct competition from Beowulf will also curtail grosses a bit. With a strong marketing push exciting the core crowd, look for a solid and respectable opening. Hitman invades 2,401 venues and might capture $13M over the weekend and $19M over five days.


Timothy Olyphant in Hitman

Some folks may be in search of a scare this weekend so MGM is rolling out the fright flick The Mist, a film adaptation of a Stephen King story. The R-rated pic comes from director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption) and stars Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, and Andre Braugher. The actors add little starpower so Mist‘s commercial prospects will instead have to rely on King’s name and the popularity of the horror genre. With the pre-Halloween gorefests now eroding away, competition should not come from fellow thrillers. Instead movies like Hitman and Beowulf will be factors as both will play to older teens and twentysomethings. Historically, horror films have rarely found success over Thanksgiving weekend since audiences tend to flock to happy tales. Attacking 2,423 theaters, The Mist may scare up about $10M over the Friday-to-Sunday period and roughly $14M across the five-day span.


Thomas Jane and co. in The Mist

The true meaning of family is explored once again in the holiday drama This Christmas from Sony. The PG-13 story about different generations of the Whitfield clan reuniting for the holidays stars Delroy Lindo, Regina King, Mekhi Phifer, and pop singer Chris Brown. The studio is aiming primarily for African American adults. With American Gangster going into its fourth frame and most other films neglecting this particular audience, Christmas should have clear sailing as it heads into the multiplexes. But starpower is lacking. Gangster and Why Did I Get Married? both did stellar business thanks in part to A-list drawing power from Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry, respectively. This Christmas opens in 1,802 playdates, with a widening to 1,858 on Friday, and could be in for a three-day bow of $8M and a five-day tally of $11M.


This Christmas

Likely to have a tough time finding ticket buyers this weekend is the new PG-rated drama August Rush which brings together an oddly assembled cast including Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howard, and Robin Williams. The Warner Bros. tale about a young music prodigy in search of his parents will no doubt have its work cut out for it trying to convince parents to not spend their time and money on Disney fairy tales, talking bees, Santa’s siblings, and wonder emporiums. Competition is too strong for this one and overall excitement is quite low. August Rush opens Wednesday in 2,280 theaters and expands to 2,310 on Friday. Look for a three-day debut of $5M and a five-day tally of $7M.


Freddie Highmore and Robin Williams in August Rush

With few options for older adults looking for serious fare over the long weekend, Miramax is rolling out its critical darling No Country For Old Men from the Coen brothers into nationwide release. Expanding from 148 to 860 locations, the R-rated thriller starring Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, and Tommy Lee Jones will try to target those folks that have already watched Denzel and Russell go head-to-head and are looking for more shoot-em-up action from veteran filmmakers and actors. Hot buzz has been spreading over its two weeks in limited release so awareness is now high enough to take the pic wider. Last weekend’s scorching $20,782 average will probably get sliced in half and some people will opt for happier films over Thanksgiving. But direct competition is not too fierce and word-of-mouth is on its side. Look for No Country For Old Men to take in about $7M over three days and $10M over five.


Josh Brolin in No Country for Old men

Last weekend’s champ Beowulf would normally see a sizable sophomore drop especially with Hitman stealing away young men. But thanks to the holiday cushion, the decline should not be as bad. A 30% fall may result giving Paramount a Friday-to-Sunday take of around $19M which would push the cume to $60M after ten days. Studio stablemate Bee Movie will join the century club by Friday and should remain a solid option for families. Look for a 20% dip to roughly $11M and a boost in the total to $111M.

A 25% drop might be in the works for American Gangster which may tap into patient adults that have heard the buzz, but just haven’t made a trip to the theaters yet. Universal could take in about $9.5M over three days and raise its sum to $116M. Christmas films routinely see their three-day grosses climb over the turkey frame when compared to the previous weekend thanks to the cheery holiday mood of ticket buyers. That could come as good news to Warner Bros. which might see its Vince Vaughn offering Fred Claus edge up by 10% to around $13M. Cume would hit $54M.

LAST YEAR Despite five new films opening in wide release over the turkey frame, moviegoers continued to spend their money on the same films as the top two spots remained unchanged. Sophomores Happy Feet and Casino Royale led the session with $37M and $30.8M, respectively, over three days. The penguin toon dipped only 11% while the rejuvenated Bond flick dropped by just 25% giving the pair a towering combined gross of $193M after ten days. Denzel Washington won the bronze with his new sci-fi actioner Deja Vu which bowed to $20.6M while the Christmas comedy Deck the Halls followed in fourth with a debut of $12M. Final grosses reached $64M and $35.1M. Borat rounded out the top five with $10.3M in its fourth weekend. Other new releases stumbled. MGM’s political drama Bobby expanded nationally and took in only $4.9M on its way to a weak $11.2M. Warner Bros. debuted its sci-fi drama The Fountain to the tune of $3.8M and New Line saw just $3.2M for its Jack Black pet project Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. The pics ended their runs quickly with a measly $10.1M and $8.3M, respectively.

author: Gitesh Pandya www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Some critics have turned up their noses at his films, but there’s no denying Tyler Perry‘s commercial track record at the box office — a winning streak that Lionsgate has just rewarded with a new two-picture deal.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lionsgate has acquired the rights to Perry’s next two films (titled The Family That Preys Together and Madea Goes to Jail) for an undisclosed sum. Keeping with tradition, Perry will write, direct, and star in both movies. From the article:

“Madea Goes to Jail”…is an adaptation of Perry’s play about a series of events that occur after Madea spends a night in jail. Both films are scheduled to begin production in the spring.

” ‘The Family That Preys Together’ and ‘Madea Goes to Jail’ are going to deliver everything audiences have come to expect from a Tyler Perry production: humor, uplift and unlimited heart and soul,” said Michael Paseornek, president of film production at Lionsgate.

Perry’s most recent release, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?, opened at Number One with a $21.4 million gross last month.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Jigsaw’s twisted games return for another late-October round of torture fun with Saw IV which should allow the lucrative franchise to claim the biggest horror opening of the year for the second straight time. The R-rated gorefest follows last year’s Saw III which bowed to $33.6M this very weekend setting a new debut record for the series. Jigsaw’s death in that installment did not stop a fourth flick from being produced since the most popular horror movie villains never truly die anyway. Although III set a new opening weekend record for the Lionsgate series, it did not match Saw II‘s overall $87M gross and instead finished a bit behind with $80.2M. Still, with small budgets (Saw III was produced for $12M) this cash cow continues to churn out profits and shows no sign of stopping.

The audience for Saw IV is clearly defined and new fans are not likely to be generated. Competition will come primarily from last weekend’s number one opener 30 Days of Night which will suffer a sharp fall this weekend. Otherwise, there is not much to distract genre fans on the weekend before the pumpkin holiday. The marketing has been on par with previous films, but as the franchise ages it risks losing fans who may have had enough with three helpings already. Plus this year has seen a wide assortment of horror films crash and burn which has led to some fright fatigue. Another factor could be the World Series which last year only affected Saw III‘s Friday bow but this year will cut into both Saturday and Sunday business. Many young adults may opt for the torture that the Red Sox are inflicting on the Rockies instead. Saw IV opens on Friday in 3,183 locations and could take in about $29M over three days.


Saw IV

Steve Carell provides some laughs to those not interested in Halloween horror. Following the relatively disappointing $100.3M gross for his $175M budgeted comedy Evan Almighty, the funnyman returns in the dramedy Dan in Real Life playing a depressed widower who falls for his brother’s girlfriend during a family reunion weekend. Juliette Binoche and Dane Cook co-star. The PG-13 film is not a full-fledged comedy so it won’t attract the entire Carell fan base that has grown rapidly over the years thanks to The 40-Year-Old Virgin and the hit sitcom The Office. Also Buena Vista is not releasing the film too wide so the numbers will be kept to a manageable level. Dan should skew mostly to an adult audience so a cluttered marketplace filled with options for mature moviegoers will be a factor too. A poor title won’t help either. Though reviews have been generally positive for this lovable loser tale, a large number of moviegoers might just wait for the DVD on this one. Dan in Real Life stumbles into more than 1,700 theaters on Friday and could collect about $9M.


Steve Carell in Dan in Real Life

Last weekend vampires ruled the box office with 30 Days of Night, but this time a steep fall is guaranteed. Horror pics always drop hard on the second weekend and add in the arrival of Saw which will steal away the same audience, and a 55% decline could result. That would give Sony about $7M for the frame and a decent ten-day total of $27M. Tyler Perry‘s hit comedy Why Did I Get Married? has little in the way of new competition to deal with which means another good hold is likely. The Lionsgate pic may slide by 40% to around $7M as well and boost its 17-day total to $48M.


30 Days of Night

The Game Plan has been the fall season’s top grosser and Disney once again has no threats opening against it. The Rock‘s durable hit should dip by 30% to roughly $6M for a cume to date of $76M. George Clooney’s well-reviewed legal drama Michael Clayton will face some competition for adults from Steve Carell this weekend, but a solid hold does seem likely. A 30% drop would put the Warner Bros. title at $4.5M for the session and lift the sum to $28M.

LAST YEAR: Like clockwork, Saw III came in and dominated the pre-Halloween box office with a franchise-best $33.6M debut grossing more than the rest of the top five combined. The Jigsaw pic eroded fast and ended up trailing Saw II‘s total tally and finished with $80.2M. Holding tight in second place was Martin Scorsese‘s crime saga The Departed with $9.8M in its fourth assignment and the lowest drop in the top ten. The magician drama The Prestige followed closely in third with $9.6M. The war drama Flags of Our Fathers ranked fourth with $6.3M while the animated hit Open Season placed fifth with $5.9M. Opening to dismal results outside the top ten was the Tim Robbins drama Catch A Fire with only $2M on its way to a horrible $4.3M. Platforming in only seven sites was the ensemble drama Babel which went on to gross $34.3M and win the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

Competition, or a lack of it, will be the deciding factor at the North American box office this weekend for the half-dozen new releases that studios are packing into already overcrowded multiplexes. Leading the way is the horror film 30 Days of Night followed by the sports comedy The Comebacks which both will be targeting the teens and young adults that Hollywood has been ignoring in recent weeks. Mature adults who already have a wide selection of serious dramas to choose from will be served up three more – Reese Witherspoon‘s Rendition, Ben Affleck‘s Gone Baby Gone, and Halle Berry‘s Things We Lost in the Fire. With far too many films aiming for the same finite audience segment, some are sure to eat into the potential of others.

Sony will monopolize the horror crowd looking for a scare before Halloween with its gorefest 30 Days of Night which tells of vampires that attack a small town in northern Alaska during its annual sunless period. The R-rated film prominently informs moviegoers in its marketing that it is based on a graphic novel hoping to tap into a little bit of the excitement generated by 300 last spring. The first eight months of this year were brutal to R-rated horror films with none reaching number one and high-profile franchise flicks like Hostel II, 28 Weeks Later, and The Hills Have Eyes 2 all failing to reach $10M on opening weekend. But the Halloween remake over Labor Day weekend changed all that and was followed three weeks later by another top spot debut from horror-action hybrid Resident Evil: Extinction. But those have died out so 30 Days stands as the only creepfest at a time when scary movies are in demand. Attacking 2,700 theaters, 30 Days of Night should easily top the charts and could bite into around $19M over the weekend.


30 Days of Night

Fox spoofs the world of sports films with its new comedy The Comebacks which will target adolescents either too young for 30 Days or uninterested in scary movies. With so many mature stories hogging up screens, the market can certainly use a dose of immature humor right about now. The Comebacks is the first viable PG-13 comedy aimed at teens since fellow sports comedy Balls of Fury launched at the end of August. After a mid-week debut, that pic bowed to $11.4M over three days and Comebacks will play to many of the same folks. And with seventeen R-rated films opening wide over the last eight weeks, there has been little to celebrate for the under-17 crowd. Sure The Comebacks looks dumb, but dumb can sell. Add in a trim running time of under 90 minutes and commercial prospects are not bad. This is disposable entertainment for 14-year-olds. It will draw attention upfront, and be forgotten two weeks from now. Thanks to a lack of direct competition, The Comebacks could debut with about $11M from 2,800 sites.


The Comebacks

Leading the charge for the 30-plus crowd this weekend is Reese Witherspoon who headlines the political thriller Rendition from New Line. The R-rated drama finds the Oscar winner playing a woman whose Egyptian-born husband is captured by the CIA after being suspected of being a terrorist. Jake Gyllenhaal and Meryl Streep add to the cast. Rendition follows The Kingdom and In the Valley of Elah as military-themed films this fall with connections to the Middle East. Audiences will want only so much of this content. Witherspoon will have her starpower put to the test since she is the only major commercial star here and she is outside of her safety zone of romantic comedies. The film will play to mature adults and will have to compete not only with this weekend’s other new dramas, but also with an assortment of holdovers already playing to the same audience. Reviews have been mixed which will also make things difficult. Debuting in roughly 2,200 locations, Rendition may capture about $9M over the Friday-to-Sunday period.


Reese Witherspoon and Peter Sarsgaard in Rendition

Ben Affleck makes his directorial debut with the crime thriller Gone Baby Gone which stars his brother Casey in the lead role. The Miramax release also stars Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, and Michelle Monaghan and carries a R rating. Reviews have been good which will come as a shocker to those that look at this movie as nothing more than Daredevil getting to hop into the director’s chair. Reese, Joaquin, George, Cate, and Halle will all be cutting into the adult pie which can only expand by a certain amount. The marketing push has been highlighting the film as being from the author of Mystic River in hopes of finding those who loved that other Boston-set fall crime drama. An invite to the top five may not arrive for Ben. Opening in approximately 1,500 theaters, Gone Baby Gone could collect about $6M this weekend.


Freeman, Affleck and Monaghan in Gone Baby Gone
Yet another new option for adults looking for serious fare is the Halle BerryBenicio Del Toro starrer Things We Lost in the Fire. The Paramount release about a widow who seeks comfort from her dead husband’s drug-addicted friend will play to a mature audience and skew more female. The R-rated film has generated some good early reviews and both leads have Oscars on their shelves, but it will not be enough to compete with the other films targeting the same crowd. Berry showed in April that she can only open a picture so much when her thriller Perfect Stranger bowed to a $4,211 average even though A-lister Bruce Willis co-starred. With a not-so-wide release in about 1,000 theaters this weekend, Things We Lost in the Fire might debut with around $3M.


Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro in Things We Lost in the Fire

Freestyle Releasing has booked the few remaining empty screens out there for its teen thriller Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour. As one of the only PG-rated suspense pics ever made, the film will try to attract younger teenagers not interested in sports-themed comedies. With only 1,100 theaters, a quiet marketing campaign, no stars, and zero buzz, a weak debut of about $1M could result.


Sarah Landon and the Paranormal Hour

After a potent number one debut, Tyler Perry‘s hit comedy Why Did I Get Married? should suffer a big fall in its second weekend if history is any indicator. Sophomore drops for the filmmaker’s previous offerings include 50% for Diary of a Mad Black Woman, 58% for Madea’s Family Reunion, and 57% for Daddy’s Little Girls. Lionsgate should see a 50% fall to about $10M this weekend giving the ensemble relationship tale $37M in ten days.

Disney’s The Game Plan once again has no new competition for the kiddie audience. Why studios have programmed so many serious adult dramas into this month and no other good family films is anyone’s guess. A 35% dip would leave The Rock with $7M and an impressive cume of $68M after 24 days.

Both Sony’s We Own the Night and the Warner Bros. thriller Michael Clayton will have to fight extra hard in order to compete with the new releases gunning for their customers. Night looks to slide more and fall by 45% while the strongly reviewed Clayton could ease by 40% with both films grossing roughly $6M over the weekend. That would lead to ten-day totals of $20M and $21M, respectively.

LAST YEAR: Just two months after the release of the similarly-themed magician pic The Illusionist, Buena Vista still managed to score a number one bow for The Prestige which opened with $14.8M on its way to $53.1M. Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed enjoyed a strong hold and ranked second with $13.5M in its third frame. Debuting in third was Clint Eastwood‘s war saga Flags of Our Fathers with $10.2M leading to a disappointing $33.6M final for Paramount. Sony’s animated hit Open Season ranked fourth with $8.2M. Rounding out the top five was rival family film Flicka with $7.7M for Fox on its way to only $21M. Also premiering in the top ten was Sony’s Marie Antoinette with $5.4M which led to a final tally of just $16M.

Author: Gitesh Pandya, www.BoxOfficeGuru.com

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