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Box Office Sept 11-13: ‘The Perfect Guy’ Is Number 1. But Don’t Celebrate Just Yet…

Box Office Sept 11-13: 'The Perfect Guy' Is Number 1. But Don't Celebrate Just Yet...

As expected (given Friday’s numbers and estimates derived from them), “The Perfect Guy” took the number 1 spot at the box office this weekend, beating out fellow newcomer, “The Visit,” the latest from M. Night Shyamalan, which he both wrote and directed. As an aside, there was a time when opening weekend for an M. Night Shyamalan movie was a big deal; not so much anymore it seems. There doesn’t appear to have been much fanfare for “The Visit” leading up to its opening, and even after.

But yes, “The Perfect Guy,” despite terrible reviews, took home the crown this weekend, as fans of the film’s 3 stars – Sanaa Lathan, Michael Ealy, and Morris Chestnut – turned out to support them, buying almost $27 million worth of tickets. That means over 3 million of you saw the film this weekend (given that the average cost of a movie ticket in the USA this year is around $8.12). 

Aramide reviewed it for S&A (read her thoughts here).

I did see it, and, in short, it was one of the least enjoyable, most disappointing theatrical experiences I’ve had so far this year. Not that I expected a lot from it (given all the media released before the film opened – trailers, clips, etc), but, at least, I hoped for something that would maybe provide some entertainment (even if it was in that “so bad it’s good” kind of way). Instead I was just annoyed. Time wasted. 

But the “support black film” brigade was out, chastising any doubters, as is the case whenever any studio film with a black cast is released, no matter how good the film may be, and whether or not each of us is actually genuinely interested in it. None of that is apparently of any importance, because, you know, if we “support” each film, it’ll show Hollywood that there’s a black audience that wants to see itself on screen and, you know, they’ll be encouraged to finance even more movies with black casts. Etc, etc, etc.

We’ve heard that story so many times before that it’s become so rote. And, as is demonstrated each occurrence, what typically happens is that more of the specific kind of film that we’re all being asked to blindly rally around, get made, until audiences tire of them (indicated by declining box office), and studios stop making them. That is until another kind of “black film” positively *surprises* at the box office, and the cycle repeats itself.

As a very recent example, consider what the box office success of “Straight Outta Compton” has meant thus far – talk of more hip-hop biopics, even a potential sequel to “Compton.” I’m still waiting for Ernest Dickerson’s film adaptation of Octavia Butler’s “Clay’s Ark” (a project that’s been in Limbo for years) to finally attract studio financing, as a result of the many black films that have been financially successful over the years; films that we were repeatedly told that if we “supported” on opening weekend, would result in films like Dickerson’s getting the production funds needed. 

So much for the so-called “black film renaissance” we’ve been hearing about for the last couple of years, that apparently happens every decade or so.

And when Oscar nominations are eventually announced for this year with very few, if any, black artists (actors, directors, writers, etc) honored, the usual cliché of articles, social media protests, and online petitions critical of the “absence of diversity” among the nominees, will dominated my email inbox, and various news feeds. And then I’ll ask the most obvious of questions: did you really think “The Perfect Guy” was going to get a nomination?

I’m being jocular about all this, but, really, I laugh to keep from crying, as the saying goes.

We can’t expect *them* to take us seriously if we don’t take ourselves seriously, and, in essence, challenge their seemingly limited expectations of us as an audience.

I should note that “The Perfect Guy” was directed by a white filmmaker in David M. Rosenthal (I call attention to that because several mentions of the film I read, credited a black director), although it’s scripted by a black writer in Tyger Williams, who also wrote the screenplay for “Menace II Society” 22 years ago.

The budget for “The Perfect Guy” was $12 million, so it’s certainly on its way to becoming a reasonably profitable film for Sony/Screen Gems. I predict that it’ll likely fall significantly next weekend, unless word of mouth is very strong (critical reviews certainly won’t help, the way they played a part in “Straight Outta Compton’s” success).

As for the rest of the story…

Shyamalan’s “The Visit” came in a close second place, earning close to $26 million.

Rounding out the top 10, of note, the faith-based drama “War Room” which was last week’s number 1, dropped to 3rd place, with $7.4 million, and a cumulative total of over $39 million to date (keep in mind that this is a film that cost just $3 million, so it’s far surpassed its budget; and even if you considered marketing costs as well, it’s probably still a very profitable movie for Sony/Tristar). 

Meanwhile “Straight Outta Compton” dropped down to 6th place (from #2 last weekend), adding to its total gross which is now at a hefty $155 million domestic, and over $180 million when you add foreign receipts. By the time its international run ends, this could very well be a $200+ million picture for Universal – a studio that’s having a great year, owning 4 of the top 10 grossing films of 2015, including the number 1 film of the year (so far) in “Jurassic World.”

Worth noting, another faith-based movie opened this weekend titled “90 Minutes in Heaven,” starring Kate Bosworth and Hayden Christensen, directed by Michael Polish. It didn’t perform as well as the other faith-based film in the top 10 (“War Room”) when it opened, earning $2.1 million, taking the #9 slot. 

There are more of them coming, as it seems Hollywood has officially jumped on what it probably thinks will be another ephemeral gravy train in the faith-based film. With the box office success of recent works like “Heaven Is for Real,” and TV ratings hits like “The Bible Series,” “Son of God,” and “AD,” it’s probably a very good time for filmmakers/content creators with so-called faith-based projects primed for the big or small screen. Coming soon that I’m aware of: “Captive” with David Oyelowo and Kate Mara; and “Miracles From Heaven,” which Queen Latifah and Jennifer Garner are attached to. 

1 “The Perfect Guy”    SGem     $26,700,000    $26,700,000
2 “The Visit”    Uni. $25,690,000      $25,690,000
3 “War Room”    TriS $7,400,000 $39,188,327
4 “A Walk in the Woods”    BG $4,620,099 $19,877,024
5 “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”    Par. $4,150,000 $188,172,518
6 “Straight Outta Compton”    Uni. $4,090,000 $155,712,600
7 “No Escape”    Wein. $2,879,000 $24,155,935
8 “The Transporter Refueled”    EC $2,700,000 $13,343,496
9 “90 Minutes in Heaven”    Gold. $2,160,911 $2,160,911
10 “Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos”    PNT $1,900,000 $6,667,352

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