Madea’s Family Reunion Rocks the Box Office

Weekend Box Office Wrap-Up for February 24-26, 2006

By John Hamann

February 26, 2006

Stop calling me a guy! I'm getting the surgery next year!

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It was just a year ago that Tyler Perry and Lionsgate had a huge hit with Diary of a Mad Black Woman. That film came out of nowhere and opened to $21.9 million from only 1,483 venues. It made a player out of Tyler Perry, creator of the Madea franchise, and continued a long winning streak for distributor Lionsgate, a run that started with Fahrenheit 9/11 in the summer of 2004 and continues impressively today. On the flipside of Madea's success, Paul Walker and Running Scared crashed and burned this weekend.

This weekend is all about Tyler Perry and the sensation he has created with the Madea franchise. The number one movie is Madea's Family Reunion, a small comedy/melodrama which grossed an astounding $30.3 million from 2,194 venues. It had a super-hot venue average of $13,787, and after a $10.5 million opening Friday, earned a not-bad 2.88 weekend multiplier. The multiplier (weekend gross divided by opening day gross) is somewhat consistent with Diary of a Mad Black Woman's 2.96, but was a little lower due to the sequel effect (audiences tend to come out on Friday if familiar with a character or story). The opening is the eighth biggest for the month of February, behind huge films like Passion of the Christ, Hannibal and Hitch. For distributor Lionsgate, it is their second biggest debut weekend ever, narrowly behind Saw II's $30.5 million open earned in October of last year. For Tyler Perry, this opening turns up the heat on an already hot career. Perry wrote and directed this one, and at age 36 now has had two films meet their production budget on opening day (much like Lionsgate's Saw franchise). Diary cost only $5 million to make and ended up grossing $50.6 million, a little better than ten times its budget. Madea's Family Reunion, with its production budget of $10 million, cost twice as much to make, but will be an even bigger sensation than Diary.

Reviews weren't kind to Madea. Initially, Lionsgate held Madea back from reviewers, except in Canada. As of this writing, there are 14 reviews at RottenTomatoes, and six of those reviews are positive, which may point to a slight improvement over the original film, Diary of Mad Black Woman. That film got 103 reviews, and only 17 were fresh, leading to a 17% fresh rating. No wonder it opened so big and finished at $50 million domestically. Whatever the case, when your film makes more than its production budget on opening day, you celebrate, then get up the next day and work on the third film of the series.


Number two is Eight Below, but it finished with about half the gross of Madea. In its second weekend, the Disney flick grossed a fantastic $15.7 million from 3,072 venues. It had a venue average of $5,117, and dropped 22% - a little higher than usual due to the holiday weekend in the last frame, where Sunday numbers are increased due to President's Day on Monday. What I'm saying here is that Eight Below is a huge hit, despite the slight percentage drop. Had last weekend not been a holiday, this flick would have dropped in the low single digits and been an even bigger story today. Eight Below is proving that it's more than a kids flick, as it is crossing over into some new demographics. Obviously, audiences didn't care that it stars Paul Walker (they definitely did with Running Scared) as its total now sits at $45.1 million. Shot mostly in Canada, this one mostly likely cost somewhere in the $25-50 million range, so it's likely to be a huge success for the Mouse House.

Landing in third, ahead of the critically reviled Date Movie, is the Pink Panther, which is also critically reviled. Despite the tongue-lashing from critics, The Pink Panther has held strongly since opening to over $20 million three weekends ago. This weekend, the Sony release grossed $11.3 million, down only 32% from the holiday inflated weekend. The Steve Martin feature has now grossed $61 million, albeit against a huge $80 million budget. Obviously, The Pink Panther has either found a much older demographic than intended, or perhaps much younger. After having a Friday gross of about $3 million, the comedy ended the weekend with a multiplier of 3.76, a number usually reserved for animated or family films.

Fourth this weekend is Date Movie. The spoof film grossed $9.2 million this weekend, down an embarrassing 52%. It now sits with $33.9 million and will be forgotten by the time the first quarter is complete.

Curious George wins fifth this weekend, grossing $7 million from 2,609 venues. The little monkey is having a tough go of it, as the film dropped 41% this weekend compared to its $11.8 million gross last weekend, despite adding 37 venues. The Universal/Imagine release has now taken in $43.1 million domestically against a budget of about $50 million.

Firewall somehow manages to hang on to sixth place, thanks mostly to two weak openers out of three. The Harrison Ford thriller grossed $6.3 million, down a lower-than-expected 30% from the previous frame. From Warner Bros, this one most likely cost in the $75-95 million range, and has only taken in $36.9 million.

Final Destination 3 continues its freefall after opening to over $19 million only three weekends ago. This time out, FD3 grossed $5.4 million, off 47%, similar to the 48% drop this film saw last weekend. Still, with a production budget of only $25 million and a domestic gross so far of $44.8 million, this is a huge success for the folks at New Line. That studio was in need of a hit, as their last film to cross the $50 million mark was The Wedding Crashers last July.

Doogal, the new animated feature from The Weinstein Co., crashed and burned this weekend (but not as bad as New Line's Running Scared). Some thought that Doogal would follow on the heels of Hoodwinked, but that wasn't the case. The animated dog grossed only $3.6 million this weekend from 2,318 venues, giving it an ugly average of $1,556. The Weinsteins tried to put a new face on an European film a la Nanny McPhee, but failed miserably.

Finishing an ugly ninth is Running Scared, the other film this weekend with Paul Walker. Running Scared flopped hard, grossing $3.1 million over its opening weekend, from 1,611 venues (I'd say New Line knew they had a dog with this one). Critics hated the film. At RottenTomatoes, 89 reviews were counted at the time of this writing, and 33 were positive, giving this one a fresh rating of 37%.

Tenth spot belongs to Freedomland, the thriller that opened poorly last weekend. This frame, Freedomland grossed $2.9 million, down 50% from last weekend. The Joe Roth directed picture now has a running total of $10.8 million.

Overall, the top ten struggled versus last year, despite Madea's opening. The top ten movies at the box office this weekend earned $94.7 this year, versus about $99 million last year. Next weekend Bruce Willis' 16 Blocks and Milla Jovovich's UItraviolet take on last year's surprise hit The Pacifier, so the box office could be in for another losing streak.

Top Ten for Weekend of February 24-26, 2006
of Sites
Gross ($)
Gross ($)
1 Madea's Family Reunion 2,194 New $30.3 $30.3
2 Eight Below 3,072 -22% $15.7 $45.1
3 The Pink Panther 3,313 -32% $11.3 $61.0
4 Date Movie 2,898 -52% $9.2 $33.9
5 Curious George 2,609 -41% $7.0 $43.1
6 Firewall 2,740 -30% $6.3 $36.9
7 Final Destination 3 2,726 -47% $5.4 $44.8
8 Doogal 2,318 New $3.6 $3.6
9 Running Scared 1,611 New $3.1 $3.1
10 Freedomland 2,361 -50% $2.9 $10.8



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