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‘The Perfect Guy’ and ‘The Visit’ to Battle for Box-Office Domination

M. Night Shyamalan’s horror film and the Michael Ealy-Sanaa Lathan thriller should both hit mid-teen millions this weekend

A thriller takes on a chiller as “The Perfect Guy,” starring Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan and Morris Chestnut, and M. Night Shyamalan‘s “The Visit” square off at the box office this weekend. And it looks like a nail-biter.

“You can make a strong case for both,” Jeff Bock, senior analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co. told TheWrap Wednesday. “This was a great slot for Sony with a similar film last year, and there hasn’t been a movie like this for African-American audiences all summer.

“On the other hand, M. Night Shyamalan has never had a movie open under $18 million, and this one has Jason Blum going for it and and it’s PG-rated, so I could see it going even higher,” he said.

Both are tracking in the mid- to high-teen millions. Universal’s “The Visit” has so-so reviews while Sony hasn’t screened “Perfect Guy” for critics. Neither is particularly strong on social media. Fandango advance sales give a slight edge to “Perfect Guy,” which is also rated PG-13.

The weekend’s other wide release, the Christian-targeting “90 Minutes in Heaven” starring Kate Bosworth and Hayden Christensen, won’t be in as many theaters and is not expected to top $5 million for Samuel Goldwyn. However, the recent over-performance of defending champ “War Room,” another faith-based film, gives the movie written and directed by Michael Polish a prayer.

“The Visit” offers a shot at a return to directing form for Shyamalan, whose last two efforts — “After Earth” and “The Last Airbender” — were pricey flops. He hasn’t had a hit since 2002’s “Signs,” but the scales tilted in his favor when Blumhouse Productions came aboard as a producing partner.

Shyamalan directed, co-produced, financed and wrote the screenplay for “The Visit.” It follows two siblings (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould) who encounter supernatural trouble after a trip to visit their grandparents. It will show in 3,068 theaters. 

“The Perfect Guy” is directed by David M. Rosenthal. The script, by Alan B. McElroy and Tyger Williams, finds a lobbyist (Lathan) frightened by a string of strange events after she spends a night of passion with a stranger (Ealy). That prompts her ex-boyfriend (Chestnut) to step in. It will screen in more than 2,000 theaters.

If it comes anywhere near the $24 million that the Idris Elba thriller “No Good Deed” did on this weekend last year for Sony, it should win the weekend. If it does, it will be the fifth straight week that a film with black leads has been No. 1 at the box office. “War Room,” which has a mainly African-American cast, broke a three-week run by “Straight Outta Compton” last weekend.