Tyler Perry’s "Madea Goes to Jail" busted out in a big way this weekend, taking in $41 million — the highest grossing opening for a Perry film and for any in Lionsgate’s history.
Lionsgate’s previous biggest opening was "Saw III," at $33.6 million in 2006. Perry’s biggest opening to date was the previous comedy in his "Madea" series, "Madea’s Family Reunion," which grossed $30 million its opening weekend in 2006.
The main "Madea" competition, "Friday the 13th," slipped all the way down to number six, taking in $7.8 million.
Steve Rothenberg, Lionsgate’s president of domestic distribution, said the key to Perry’s success was attracting a larger share of young audience members and Hispanic moviegoers.
According to Lionsgate’s exit polls, Perry’s films usually appeal most to African-American woman over 30, but this time the polls showed 35% of "Madea Goes to Jail"’s audience was under 25 years old and 13% was Hispanic.
"[Perry] literally doubled his younger component. That’s is crucial because younger people want to go to movies," Rothenberg said. "The Madea character is such a funny, iconic character. The appeal is widespread. There’s just something about when a guy puts on a dress."
Paul Dergarabedian of Media by Numbers said Perry’s character is clearly establishing herself as a brand. "The Madea brand is still fairly new. So while it’s extraordinarily successful, she’s still a relatively new character that people are learning about. Each successive movie, I think we’re going to see more and more crossover to a broad-based audience."
"Madea Goes to Jail" couldn’t have come at a better time for Lionsgate. The company’s stock hit a six-year low in the third quarter, reporting a net loss of $93.4 million due in part to poor performing features "The Spirit," "Punisher: War Zone" and "Transporter 3."
"This shows that hopefully we’re turning the corner," Rothenberg said. "This is our second big hit of this calendar year. Last month, we had a huge hit with ‘My Bloody Valentine.’ We also have another Tyler Perry film coming in the fall and a ‘Saw VI’ in production. So, hopefully, we’ll have a better fiscal year than we had in ’08.
In other box-office news, "Taken" overtook the number two spot from "Corlaine" and "He’s Just Not That Into You" with $11.4 million. Tonight’s Oscar favorite "Slumdog Millionaire" crept up to number five. Danny Boyle’s Indian love story is just two million away from hitting the $100 million mark.
Weekend Box Office Figures – Three-Day Estimates
From Media By Number, LLC [Link to: http://www.mediabynumbers.com/]