BOX OFFICE ROUNDUP: OCTOBER SURPRISE

Madea Scares Off A Spate of Newcomers To Dominate The Weekend’s Box Office While Another Box Office Failure Could Spell Big Trouble For Zack Galifianakis

Well boo saw this coming?

Sorry, that was horrible but I couldn’t resist. The answer, by the way, was nobody.

Boo! A Madea Halloween defied predictions to capture the top spot at the weekend box office with an eyebrow raising 27.6 million. It was nearly identical to The Accountant’s expectation defying debut last weekend and three million better then The Girl On The Train when it opened at the beginning of the month. Industry watchers expected Madea to open somewhere in the upper teens so this was a nice October surprise for Hollywood. And not only is it the second consecutive newcomer to exceed expectations it’s debut weekend, its also a much-needed win for Lionsgate Entertainment after a year of disappointments and bombs (more on that later).

Should Be No Surprise

When you think about it, Madea’s success should come as little surprise. Tyler Perry has turned his Madea films into a profitable sub-brand. With Boo’s success, three quarters of the Madea movies have opened between 21 and 30 million, with 2009’s Madea Goes To Jail earning an eye-popping 41 million its first weekend. Now that Madea’s Halloween has performed along the lines of previous Madea movies, we’ll have to see if it has the same legs. If it does, it will end up finishing somewhere between 60 and 65 million domestically. Not bad for a movie with a 20 million dollar budget.

The Other Newcomers

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back opened second, performing pretty much the way everyone expected. In fact, its 23 million dollar opening is considerably stronger than the original Jack Reacher’s 2012 debut. That movie opened with 15.2 million at Christmas, but went on to gross just over 80 million domestically and 218.3 million worldwide. Still, Paramount raised some eyebrows when it green lit a sequel, especially with an almost identical budget. Reacher star Tom Cruise will prove to be the valuable lynch pin in Paramount’s hopes to launch a reasonably priced action franchise. Cruise typically does better overseas than he does domestically these days and Never Go Back will probably need those foreign dollars. In two weeks it will face a slew of tent pole releases, starting with Marvel’s Doctor Strange on November 4th. It is going to be in tough to duplicate its predecessor’s leggy success. It should also be noted that Never Go Back grossed four and a half million less than Medea’s Halloween despite playing on nearly 1500 more screens in North America. This franchise’s future hinges on how many tickets Cruise can sell overseas.

Universal’s Halloween flick Ouija: Origins of Evil came in third, narrowly edging out The Accountant (by less than forty thousand) with just over 14 million. While that falls in line with most projections, it is about six million less than the original Ouija’s 2014 opening. The second film will likely be hard pressed to match that one’s 50 million domestic haul. Though like the first one, Ouija’s price tag is easily low enough to let it turn a profit. But speaking of newcomers . . .

Galifianakis Done?

Keeping Up With The Joneses, Zack Galifianakis’ second release in as many months, debuted in seventh place with a paltry 5.6 million. It was one of the worst debut performances of any widely released movie in modern history. Last month’s Masterminds was nearly as terrible and currently only has 17 million to its name. Neither movie is going to come anywhere close to making back its investment and will cost their respective studios substantial cash. In both films Galifianakis was surrounded by strong supporting groups that included the likes of Kristen Wiig, John Hamm, Kate MacKinnon, Owen Wilson and Gal Godot to name a few. So it appears that he was the anchor on his impressive co-stars instead of vice versa. And here’s the thing, if you subtract the Bachelor movies (which broke him in as a Hollywood player), his box office resume isn’t that remarkable. After the colossal failures of these two movies-only weeks apart-the question has to be asked; are his days as a leading comedic man numbered? Fortunately he has a successful TV show to fall back on, so he may want to focus on that and repair his damaged brand. Because right now, it doesn’t look like too many studios will be calling with big jobs.

The Leftovers

The Accountant performed pretty well in its second weekend, falling a respectable 43% from its debut weekend. So far it’s weathered the presence of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back admirably and its 47.9 million total has already surpassed its 44 million dollar budget. It looks like it’s on pace to finish with around 70 million total, a pretty good haul for a low priced, October action release. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children meanwhile, has been granted a second life overseas. While it continues to stumble on North America shores, grossing only 74.4 million during its four week run, it has collected a surprising 150 million in foreign markets. Fox has taken some serious baths on some movies this year, but it doesn’t look like Miss Peregrine’s will be one of them. In fact, it may be Fox’s only real win this year.

And in tenth spot this weekend was Deepwater Horizon, the Mark Wahlberg driven vehicle based on the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Deepwater’s total gross trails Miss Peregrine’s by nearly 19 million despite having an identical budget (110 million) and playing the same amount of time. The reason that’s worth noting is because it is one of many bombs dropped by Lionsgate this year. Now you get an idea why Madea is such an important hit for them. It won’t staunch their year long bleeding by any means (what they lost on February’s wretched Gods of Egypt alone was staggering) but it at least gives them one in the win column before they wish 2016 a fond farewell.

Until next week take care.

Photo: Lionsgate Entertainment
Number: Box Office Mojo
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