Weekend Wrap-Up

Horton Hears the Footsteps of Tyler Perry

By John Hamann

March 23, 2008

Horton Goes Plummeting to a Terrifying Death!

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The Easter weekend has never been huge for releasing movies, but this frame had a shot at pulling down some big dollars, thanks to a fairly impressive line-up of new films and one big returning movie in Horton Hears a Who!. New films this weekend include the always popular Madea returning to another Tyler Perry comedy, this time called Meet the Browns. Also opening this weekend is Drillbit Taylor with BOP fave, Owen Wilson, and one of those idiotic horror films, Shutter. Last year, Easter didn't arrive until April, and the Easter Bunny delivered bad news to three new openers. Would the same thing happen this weekend?

Our number one film is Horton Hears a Who!, as kids continued to come out in force for the Dr. Seuss adaptation. After opening last weekend to an impressive-for-March $45 million, 20th Century Fox will be pleased with a second weekend gross of $25.1 million and a drop of 44%. Easter can be a funny weekend, especially for a kids flick. Friday has the kids out of school, which tends to front-load a weekend, then a normal Saturday occurs, but it's followed by a Sunday that tends to be weaker than normal.


Is Fox happy with the hold for Horton? I think so. The original Ice Age was in its third weekend of release when Easter hit, and it dropped 40%, moving from $30 million to $18.1 million. Also in its third frame over Easter, Ice Age 2 fell a very similar 41%, moving from $34 million to $20 million. Both the Ice Age franchise and Horton are from Fox Animation and Blue Sky, so they obviously have a strategy of matching high profile family films to the spring break and Easter. Horton Hears a Who! looks like it's on its way to at least $150 million, if not closer to $200 million. With a budget of "only" $85 million, this is going to be another big win for Fox, Blue Sky and Dr. Seuss. Its total so far is $86.5 million.

Finishing a very strong second is Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns. The Kind of Urban Family Cinema scored again this weekend as Meet the Browns earned $20 million from only 2,006 venues. The return of Madea had a venue average of $9,975, which is way ahead of Horton's average of $6,337. While this isn't the $30 million that Madea's Family Reunion opened to, we have to remember that Reunion wasn't up against the second weekend of a Dr. Seuss movie. Meet the Browns is right in line with some other Tyler Perry flicks, notably his first Madea movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which opened to $21.3 million, and his 2007 flick, Why Did I Get Married?, which opened to $21.4 million. This makes three $20 million plus openers for Perry, and four $10 million plus openers for the 38-year-old writer/director/actor. While the distributor for Meet the Brows continues to be the super savvy Lionsgate, the production company is now Tyler Perry Productions, without any partners. While no budget data is available, if the Perry pattern holds, Meet the Browns was probably made for less than $15 million, and is most likely profitable for Perry and Lionsgate by the end of the week. Reviews are the usual for Perry, not great, but the message is positive, so I have trouble dumping on the results of his films. The man knows his audience and his message, and has found a way to make some big money while doing it. This one will likely finish between $50 and $60 million, and make another $40 million on DVD. Next up for Perry is The Family That Preys, which sounds like another Perry film with a similar message, but this time has the very pale Kathy Bates (Misery) amongst the cast.

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