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Well, folks, it was a return to box office gold for multi-hyphenate Tyler Perry this weekend, as his latest effort, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married opened at number one with $21.5 million from 2,011 theatres for an impressive $10.6k average. Perry’s post-Madea prowess seemed in doubt after Daddy’s Little Girls opened to an underwhelming $11 million last February, en route to a $31 million total, but Married proves Perry’s success wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
I must admit, I have never seen a Tyler Perry movie, so I don’t have much of an opinion on these numbers one way or the other. It’s good news for Lionsgate, who I’m still anticipating will take a substantial hit with Saw IV. Despite modest reviews (though the best for any of his films), the turnout for this, as well as the success of House of Payne, the TBS sitcom Perry produces, makes it undeniable that Perry’s sensibilities just connect with a lot of people. He may not be the next Goddard or Scorcese, but on some level you have to respect what the guy’s been able to do. And one last note, too. In poking around, I noticed that Daddy’s Little Girls featured Idris Elba, and I have to give Perry some credit for hiring this guy for a central role. Elba has done fantastic work as Stringer Bell on HBO’s The Wire, and having caught his impressive supporting performance in 28 Weeks Later last weekend, I was reminded of his potential to be a great character actor. Upcoming projects include a part in American Gangster, Anthony Minghella’s next pic, and the lead in Jada Pinkett Smith’s directorial debut, The Human Contract.
Keep an eye on him; he’s going places.
The Game Plan continues to do bang-up business, slipping just 30% to second place and $11.5 million for the weekend, giving the family-oriented Rock pic a $59 million total. In third place was George Clooney’s legal thriller Michael Clayton with $11 million from 2,511 theatres for a modest $4.3k average. Adult-oriented movies like this don’t usually open huge (it’s technically expanding from a limited opening, but if you add 2,496 theatres, it’s counts as an opening in my book), but depend of good reviews (which it has) and strong word of mouth to give it good legs over the coming weeks. Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen. I still insist that Warner Bros. jumped the gun here, and would have done better to expand little by little and get the word out, rather than go wide so soon. Big studio marketers just don’t know how to do a slow release anymore (the Weinsteins were masters of it in the early 90′s). It’s like they’re so used to being handed bad movies that have to make their money back in the first weekend before audiences realize it’s a piece of crap that when they’re handed a good movie, they’re just baffled.
James Gray’s We Own the Night packed a lot of star power but not a lot of box office muscle this weekend, opening in fourth with $11 million from 2,362 theatres for a $4.6k average. The pairing of recent Oscar nominees Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix (with the stunning Eva Mendes and the great Robert Duvall in supporting roles) didn’t provide the fireworks Sony was expecting. This doesn’t have the reviews Clayton does to ensure good legs, meaning it will probably fall fast and hard as more serious award contenders open wide in the coming weeks. I expect Wahlberg will bounce back big, though, with the staring role in M. Night Shyamalan’s new pic, The Happneing, set for release next June.
There was no saving The Heartbreak Kid, which fell 47% in its second weekend to $7.4 milion and a paltry $26 million total. Everything I’ve heard from friends, family, co-workers, and my beloved commenters is that the movie is bad, bad, bad. So the bad news continues for Peter and Bobby Farrelly, as well as for Bob and Harvey Weinstein, whose Elizabeth: The Golden Age couldn’t escape the bad buzz and opened poorly in sixth place with $6 million from 2,001 theatres for a $3k average. After the disastrous The Four Feathers, I’m surprised Harvey went back to director Shekhar Kapur’s well, but after this, I don’t think it’s a mistake he’ll make again.
The Kingdom followed with $4.5 million, down a steep 53% for a $40 million total. Universal execs will have a hard time recouping the $70 million budget with just $10 million from overseas so far. Director Peter Berg will live to fight another day, though, after what I anticipate will be a great reception for Will Smith/Charlize Theron-starrer Hancock (formerly known by the superior title Tonight He Comes). Across the Universe continues to do well as it expands (pay attention, Warner Bros!), moving into the number eight spot with $4 million from 954 theatres for a $4k average and a $12 million total. This one has cult classic written all over it. Resident Evil: Extinction continues it’s profitable run with $2.6 million and a $48 million total, followed by the decidedly unprofitable The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, which fell 42% in it’s second week to $2.1 million, a dismal $677 average, and a whopping $7 million total. Somebody at Fox is going to lose their job over that one.
In limited release, Lars and the Real Girl pulled in some decent numbers from seven theatres, earning $85k for a $12k average. Reviews are mostly positive, and star Ryan Gosling has positioned himself for a second Best Actor nomination after last year’s nod for Half Nelson (he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of winning, though). And poor Kenneth Branagh continues his critical and commercial slide (I still love his Henry V, and respect his slavishly faithful Hamlet), and takes Jude Law (serious career trouble after this and Breaking and Entering) and Michale Caine (Caine has proven that he can survive anything) with him. Branagh’s remake of Sleuth, which boasts a screenplay by Harold Pinter, opened in nine theatres and brought in just $50k for a $5.5k average. If you’re in 3,000 theatres, a $5.5k average isn’t bad. If you’re in nine, though, you’ll be lucky if they expand your theatre count to double digits.
And that about wraps it up for this week. Check back next Monday when we finally get the returns on the highly-anticipated (by me, at least) 30 Days of Night, which I expect to dominate against more critically austere competition like Gone, Baby, Gone (which features another deserving Wire vet, Michael K. Williams) and Things We Lost in the Fire. Oh, and a dreadful-looking spoof called The Comebacks. See you then.