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Weekend Preview: Can Madea Keep the Box Office Healthy?

April 21st, 2011

The box office is looking to extend its winning streak to two this weekend. There is some great news regarding that goal, as this time last year was really poor, with the three new releases earning less than $30 million combined. I would be shocked if Madea's Big Happy Family opened with less than that. With the Easter holiday, Rio and Hop should hold on well and 2011 should finally start digging itself out of the huge hole it is in.

Madea equals money. The average box office haul for these films is close to $64 million; however, the average for the two without Madea in the title is $51 million, while the average for the two that do have Madea is more than 50% higher. Madea's Family Reunion opened with more than $30 million and ended with over $60 million, while Madea Goes To Jail opened with more than $40 million and ended with over $90 million. That brings us to Madea's Big Happy Family. Given the pattern, it could open with $50 million and become the first Tyler Perry movie to hit $100 million. That's too bullish for me, but I'm also unwilling to dismiss it as a possibility. On the other hand, he is coming off his weakest film in terms of ticket sales since Daddy's Little Girls. Madea's Big Happy Family will probably open closer to Family Reunion than to Goes To Jail, but it could be close. Look for an opening weekend of $34 million. On a side note, you will notice I didn't mention the critical reception the film has received so far. I did this for two reasons. Firstly, these films are critic-proof. Secondly, there are no reviews to look at. I would guess it will finish the weekend with 30% to 40% positive reviews.

Rio just missed expectations last weekend, but thanks to the school holidays, and its reviews, it should hold on quite well this weekend. Pie in the sky, the film could earn close to $30 million over the weekend and challenge for first place. However, a solid second place with $26 million is more likely. That would push its running tally to $90 million and put it on pace to reach $100 million next weekend.

The widest release of the weekend is Water for Elephants, which is opening in 2,800 theaters. This is the latest major release featuring one of the stars from the massively popular Twilight franchise. However, as I've said countless times, the alumni from that film have not managed to earn box office success on their own. So far the reviews are only mixed while the buzz has been a little weaker than expected for a Robert Pattinson movie. The film should open with anywhere from $15 million to $20 million and I'm going with a prediction of $17 million.

After a disappointing start, Scream 4 hopes to avoid a complete collapse this weekend. Unfortunately, given its genre and the fact that it is a sequel, it could fall as much as 60%. Its reviews are good, but not great, so it will probably avoid that fate, but not by a huge margin. Look for a weekend box office of between $8 million and $9 million, which might not be enough for fourth place. It might even slip out of the top five.

The final wide release of the weekend is African Cats, the latest nature documentary from Disney. The first such release, earth, was a huge hit, for the genre, earning more than $30 million domestically and $100 million worldwide. Oceans was not as potent, but with nearly $20 million domestically and over $80 million worldwide, it was still a hit. African Cats is looking to rebound, even though its reviews are a little weaker. Look for an opening of between $7 million and $8 million, which may or may not be enough for fifth place.

Easter weekend should be very helpful to Hop's box office potential and it could drop just 30%, which would give it $7.5 million over the weekend for a total of $95 million after four. It also gives it a chance to finish anywhere from fourth place to sixth place, depending on how well the two films above it perform. Even sixth place with a little under $7 million will put it on pace to hit $100 million by the end of next weekend.


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Filed under: Weekend Preview, Rio, Madea's Big Happy Family, African Cats, Scream 4, Water for Elephants, Hop