Weekend Wrap-Up for October 12-14, 2007

Tyler Perry Surprises Box Office Again

By John Hamann

October 14, 2007

I bet you won't even let me buy you dinner.

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A handful of new releases filled with Oscar bait got trumped by the man that usually plays a heavy-set woman in a dress (but not this time). Tyler Perry and his Why Did I Get Married rocketed past the likes of Oscar winners and nominees George Clooney (Michael Clayton), Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg (We Own The Night), and Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age) to finish in a surprise top spot. Holdovers were pushed to the back of the pack, but The Rock's Game Plan continues to entice moviegoers.

Our number one film of the weekend is (Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?), as the small Lionsgate comedy/drama scored with an opening weekend take of $21.5 million from a slim 2,011 venues. It had an opening weekend venue average of $10,691 – by far the best in the top ten. Box office hopes for Married were down for this Perry effort, as his last, Daddy's Little Girls, underwhelmed over opening weekend with an $11.2 million take from 2,111 venues. That film didn't star Perry, but he moved back in front of the camera for Why Did I Get Married?, which may have resulted in a bigger opening. Married still didn't reach the heights of Perry's Madea franchise, as Madea's Family Reunion opened to $30 million and Diary of Mad Black Woman found $21.9 million from a tiny venue count of only 1,483 over its opening frame in 2005. As a director, Perry has now had three films open over $10 million, and all three had low budgets. Perry is certainly box office gold, especially over opening weekend. Follow-up frames have always proven tough for the young director, though, as his audience tends to abandon the product past opening weekend. Also abandoning Perry's work are critics, as he hasn't had a good set of reviews so far. Only 11 critics had chimed in at RottenTomatoes at the time of this writing, and only four reviewers had given this one a thumbs up, and none of those from the nation's top critics.

The real winners here are Tyler Perry (who wrote, produced, directed and acted) and Lionsgate, who produced (along with the Tyler Perry Company) and distributed. Lionsgate was desperate for a hit of any kind, as their current top opener is 3:10 to Yuma, which has earned $51.4 million to date. Other top earners for Lionsgate in 2007 have included Daddy's Little Girls, Sicko, Michael Moore's health care documentary that earned $24.5 million, and Good Luck Chuck. Their next release is Saw IV which debuts in a couple of weeks, and the studio will hope it doesn't perform like their Hostel Part II, which was an extreme disappointment after finishing with only $17.5 million.


Second place goes to our first holdover in the top ten and last weekend's surprise number one film, The Game Plan, starring The Rock. The Game Plan managed to spend another weekend with a gross over $10 million, as the Disney comedy earned $11.5 million, a drop of only 31% from the previous frame. The Game Plan has now earned $59.4 million, and will have no problem reaching $80 million, if not more.

George Clooney's turn as Michael Clayton finishes third, somewhat lower than analysts (and tracking for that matter) had this pegged. Michael Clayton, the thriller from Warner Bros., earned $11.01 million in its first weekend of wide release. Last weekend, Michael Clayton earned $720,000 from only 15 venues, giving it an average of $48,000 per venue. While not the stellar start Warner Bros. was looking for, this is still a solid push for another Oscar nomination for Clooney, who won Best Supporting Actor for 2005's Syriana. Michael Clayton is the freshest thing going in the top ten this weekend, as 123 critics out of 136 liked this film, giving it a very fresh rating of 90%. This one should have solid legs, but stranger things have certainly happened at the box office.

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