Weekend Forecast for February 19-21, 2009

By Reagen Sulewski

February 19, 2009

At last, Madea has been arrested for her crimes against cinema.

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We've been dealing with an almost embarrassingly strong winter box office season so far, both in terms of the number of hits and what films are hitting, acting almost like an early spring. We don't quite have the quantity this weekend, but the box office gravy train should keep going for at least one more weekend.

Tyler Perry is not a man who worries about overexposure. Madea Goes to Jail is the fourth film directly in the Madea series since 2005, and the seventh film to make it to theatres either directed by him or based on one of his plays. Essentially all but one, Daddy's Little Girls, have been hits, so it's hard to fault him for continuing to throw these films out there, though I think I must have missed Madea Goes to Camp and Slam Dunk Madea, though I may be thinking of another series.

These films pretty much defy criticism or analysis, so it's basically to the point of noting that it's out there, and until further notice penciling them in for somewhere in the mid-20s, let's say, oh, $24 million. These films are just about as reliable a cash cow as the Saw films.

The other major release of the weekend is the largely disposable teen comedy Fired Up!, starring Eric Christian Olsen and Nicolas D'Agosto as high school football players (they're 31 and 28 respectively – time to call your agents, guys) who skip their camp to go to cheerleading camp, mostly to get girls. While I applaud their officer thinking, it's not a lot to build a movie around.

There's some business in here about rival cheerleading squads and being true yourself and yada yada yada, but it really boils down to it being Bring it On with people you haven't really heard of in place of Kirsten Dunst. Female lead Sarah Roemer, notably from Disturbia, could have break out potential, but this isn't a film that feels like it has much going for it. It's basically horndogs only for this one, and on under 2,000 screens, it feels like a bit of a dump. Give it $6 million for the weekend.


Through the combination of three quirks of the calendar, Friday the 13th made off with $43 million over its first four days, proving to be one of the most successful horror remakes in this latest trend. However, cracks are already starting to show in the film's performance. After starting out with a first-day $19 million, by Monday, it had already dropped to second in the box office with just $3 million, and has continued sliding since then, with mid-week totals of just over $1 million. With this kind of performance, Friday the 13th may be on the way to redefining what a one-weekend wonder is. I won't be surprised to see a second weekend total of just $12 million.

It's hard to judge how the rest of last week's returning films actually fared, since almost all of them showed some leggy behaviour of some kind. Taken, however, has shown a track record and its 7% drop last weekend may be for real. Now with over $80 million in the bank, this stylish action film is already one of the big surprises of 2009 and seems to have pretty clear sailing towards $125 million or so. It could move back up into second place this weekend, with around $14 million.

He's Just Not That Into You proved to be the romantic comedy of choice for Valentine's Day, pulling in $9 million alone on that day. With that audience exhausted now, the bad reviews may start catching up to the film, powerhouse cast or no. I see about $11 million for this in its third weekend, with around $9 million for the counterpart it beat out, Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Coraline held on strong with almost $15 million in three days to get its total over $40 million, making it one of the stronger kids' films performers in a while. Thanks to the 3-D gimmick, a marketplace starved for this kind of thing and some visually dazzling footage, it's been able to avoid the fate of a lot of innovative kids films, that of "why isn't this more popular"? Give it another $10 million this weekend.

Elsewhere, Paul Blart appears unstoppable and will be with us until 2015 and the release of its sixth smash sequel. This is somehow in Ace Ventura territory and I don't claim to understand it. Look for another $7 million this weekend for Kevin James' film.

Also, as we head into Oscar weekend, Slumdog Millionaire remains the most significant nominated film in the box office charts. Slightly upticking last weekend for another $7 million, it's now earned twice as much as any Danny Boyle film before it. Getting set to be crowned as Best Picture (you can bank on this one), it should see another $5 million.

Forecast: Weekend of February 19-21, 2008
Number of
Changes in Sites
from Last
Gross ($)
1 Madea Goes to Jail 2,032 New 24.3
2 Taken 3,102 -7 14.2
3 Friday the 13th 3,105 0 12.6
4 He's Just Not That Into You 3,050 -125 11.3
5 Coraline 2,155 -165 10.1
6 Confessions of a Shopaholic 2,507 0 9.5
7 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,835 -130 7.7
8 Slumdog Millionaire 2,244 +610 5.9
9 Fired Up! 1,810 New 5.8
10 The International 2,364 0 5.0



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