Coen Brothers win the top spot
By John Hamann
September 14, 2008
Tyler Perry is back this weekend, and unlike the usual, he had to settle for second at the box office. The Family That Preys earned $18.2 million, which swings under Mr. Perry's usual $20 million-ish openings, but this one had to go to bat without family matriarch Madea, who seems to be the big breadwinner in the family. The Family That Preys also swung under tracking scores - they predicted either the Tyler Perry flick or Righteous Kill would lead the weekend. Tracking has been abysmal this year, and this weekend is no different.
The Family That Preys is slightly different that Perry's other releases. First off, this film was held back from reviewers prior to opening, so at the time of this writing, only ten reviews are available at RT, and four are positive (but you can bet it will drop from a 40% fresh rating). Also new is that this film is more interracial than Perry's previous films. The Family That Preys stars Kathy Bates (Misery) and Alfre Woodard, and the box office result is okay for a film that probably cost $15 million to make (the budget wasn‘t released, another new aspect for Perry). Look for this one to fall extremely hard next weekend, which would follow the Tyler Perry model to a T.
Finishing third is Righteous Kill, the Al Pacino/Robert De Niro matchup that would have been big news had it been 1998 instead of 2008. Righteous Kill got lost, and due to the fact that it had a rookie distributor in Overture, I'm not surprised. It didn't do terribly, earning $16.5 million, but it grossed that amount from 3,152 venues, by far the largest count for a single release in the top ten. Considering the acting clout of the two leads, reviews were downright horrendous. At RottenTomatoes, only 20 reviews of out of a possible 64 were negative, leaving it with an un-righteous score of 24%. The top critics came in at a sorry 15%. Why did these two auteurs choose Jon Avnet to direct? Pacino couldn't have thought 88 Minutes (6% fresh) went well ($7 million opening, $16 million finish), so I can't imagine what compelled him to work with Avnet again. Overture Films won't get stuck with a loss on this one, but someone will, as Righteous Kill was made independently at a cost of $60 million.
Fourth comes from another upstart distributor, Picturehouse, and the film is The Women. Despite being up against Tyler Perry and the 24% fresh Righteous Kill, this is still the worst reviewed opener this week, and audiences caught on. The Women earned $10.1 million from 2,692 venues, again, not a completely horrible score, but nothing memorable either. Considering some of the tired names involved here, the opening frame isn't half bad. Diane English, the brain behind Murphy Brown, helmed a feature for the first time after basically being out of the business for ten years. She gathered a team of actresses that included Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Bette Midler, and Carrie Fisher, amongst many others. The only "name" there these days is perhaps Mendes, who showed up for last year's Ghost Rider, which opened to $45 million. Despite the talent, this one cost only $16.5 million to make ($10 bucks each?), so it won't be a disaster, but no one will be whistling Dixie either.