If anybody had a reason to doubt whether Tyler Perry has become one of the most bankable brands in all of movies, be skeptical no longer. The domestic dramedy maestro’s latest release, Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail, ran away with a big victory on the typically slow Academy Awards weekend, grossing a hefty $41.1 million, according to early estimates from Media by Numbers.
That opening sum is the biggest of all time for a Tyler Perry film, besting the $30 mil debut of 2006’s Madea’s Family Reunion. Too, it’s the top bow in the history of indie studio Lionsgate, improving upon all the Tyler Perry and Saw flicks that came before it. The movie’s per-theater average of $20,236 ranks in the top 40 for all wide openers ever. And, no surprise, Madea Goes to Jail achieved all this success with a solid A CinemaScore grade from a crowd that included mostly older women.
Second place went to Taken, which added another $11.4 mil to its four-week tally, bringing said total to $95.2 mil. Fellow strong holdover Coraline (No. 3) was next with $11 mil. He’s Just Not That Into You (No. 4) declined a sharp 56 percent to bank $8.5 mil on its third weekend. And Best Picture favorite Slumdog Millionaire rounded out the top five with $8.1 mil — a sum that brings its domestic total to $98 mil.
Reigning champ Friday the 13th suffered one of the biggest drops ever, a stunning 81 percent, to finish in sixth place with $7.8 mil. And this weekend’s other major new release, the cheerleader comedy Fired Up! (No. 9), grossed a weak-but-expected $6 mil. The film garnered an okay CinemaScore grade of B from a crowd comprised of mostly younger ladies.
Overall, the weekend was up nearly 30 percent over the same frame a year ago, when Vantage Point led the way. Eight of the past nine weekends have improved upon the previous year’s grosses.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a quick peek at the main Oscar contenders, for whom the box office report is mixed headed into the ceremony. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button leads the way with $124.2 mil. The aforementioned Slumdog Millionaire should clear the $100 mil mark in the next several days, whether it wins the top prize or not. Then it’s a big jump down to Milk ($28.2 mil), The Reader ($23.2 mil), and Frost/Nixon ($17.4 mil). And let’s not forget multiple nominee The Dark Knight, which may not be up for Best Picture, but did finally become the fourth movie ever to cross the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office.
But, who’ll win? Check back on EW.com later today for all sorts of fun stuff — live blog posts, galleries, reports from the Kodak Theatre, and more — from Hollywood’s big night.
More Box Office News:
Box Office Preview: Tyler Perry takes on Oscar weekend