By now, every box-office prognosticator knows not to underestimate director-writer-producer-actor Tyler Perry, whose rapid two-movies-per-year pace likely keeps director Terrence Malick up at night. Perry’s latest project, the dramedy I Can Do Bad All By Myself starring Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), should have no trouble debuting in first place against three other new releases: The umpteenth college slasher Sorority Row, the Antarctica-set thriller Whiteout, and the post-apocalyptic animated adventure 9. Here’s how I think the crowded weekend will play out.
1. Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself — $28 million
Perry’s biggest hit, Madea Goes to Jail, premiered earlier this year to the tune of $41 million. The director’s movies see a spike in their grosses whenever the name of Perry’s iconic bespectacled granny, Madea, is featured in their titles. While I Can Do Bad All By Myself lacks that distinction, Lionsgate isn’t hiding the fact that Madea has a significant supporting role. So expect I Can Do Bad to split the difference between Madea Goes to Jail and Perry’s The Family That Preys, which earned $17.4 million during the same September frame a year ago.
2. Sorority Row — $17 million
One day in the future, teenagers will grow weary of youth-oriented horror flicks. That day isn’t today. The R-rated Sorority Row should fall a bit short of the numbers posted by The Final Destination (perhaps a few adolescents will remember that they already saw a horror movie just two weeks ago), but it’ll easily trump the weekend’s other new R-rated thriller…
3. Whiteout — $8.5 million
Starring Kate Beckinsale and directed by Dominic Sena (Swordfish, Gone in Sixty Seconds), Whiteout depicts a U.S. marshal’s quest to solve a murder mystery in Antarctica before the arrival of the continent’s sunless winter. Initial reviews are chilly, and the film’s advertising campaign has been strangely absent — I’ve yet to have seen one TV ad for the movie (although I could be watching the wrong channels). Beckinsale’s Underworld fans should help push the pic to a decent, if unremarkable, opening.
4. 9 — $8 million
The PG-13 animated film, which was produced by filmmakers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov (Wanted), tallied $3.1 million when it arrived in theaters on Wednesday. That amount probably represented all of the moviegoers who were truly psyched to see this post-apocalyptic tale about a gang of “stitchpunk” dolls struggling to survive in a world overtaken by vicious robots. Many parents will deem 9 too dark and frightening for children, while Burton fans and sci-fi buffs will seek it out despite the mediocre reviews. The film’s relatively low theater count (1,661 screens) also limits its potential.
5. Inglourious Basterds — $7 million
Stellar word-of-mouth has prevented Quentin Tarantino’s WWII epic from ever sliding more than 50 percent during its run. For the movie’s fourth weekend, anticipate a drop of around 40 percent for a weekend grab of $7 million, which would propel Basterds‘ cumulative gross to an impressive $105 million.