Box Office: 'Perfect Guy' Narrowly Beats 'The Visit'

It's the fifth weekend in a row that a movie featuring African-American actors in the leading roles has topped the North American box office.

Romantic thriller The Perfect Guy looks to have narrowly beaten M. Night Shyamalan's horror-thriller The Visit at the North American box office with $26.7 million from 2,221 theaters.

The Visit took in an estimated $25.7 million from 3,068 theaters, the top opening of 2015 so far for a horror film. The final weekend order of the two films could change if Sunday projections are off. Both titles, kicking off the fall box office, exceeded expectations — thanks to females of all ages.

Perfect Guy, from Screen Gems, marks the fifth weekend in a row that a movie featuring African-American actors in the lead roles topped the chart. Universal's Straight Outta Compton won three consecutive weekends, followed by Sony/TriStar's Christian drama War Room over Labor Day.

The international box office race was dominated by Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, which opened to a massive $86 million in China. Fox's Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials also impressed as it began its overseas rollout a week ahead of its U.S. launch, grossing $26.8 million, while Minions has become the No. 2 animated film of all time worldwide behind Frozen.

Directed by David M. Rosenthal and written by Tyger Williams, Perfect Guy stars Sanaa Lathan as a successful lobbyist who begins a torrid affair with a charming, dangerous stranger (Michael Ealy), just as her former boyfriend (Morris Chestnut) resurfaces.

Perfect Guy, nabbing an A- CinemaScore, cost less than most Screen Gems titles, or $12 million. African-Americans made up more than 60 percent of the audience, while females made up 70 percent of all ticket buyers.

"It really killed in the South and on the East Coast. This is a big win for us, and no one does the sex thriller genre better than Clint Culpepper's Screen Gems," said Sony distribution chief Rory Bruer, noting that War Room, an African-American Christian drama, also held well. "If your films resonate well with your core audience, they are going to show up."

Ealy has starred in a number of films for Screen Gems, including the Think Like a Man series and About Last Night. Lathan's credits include Universal's box-office hit The Best Man. She's also an accomplished Broadway actress who was nominated for her performance in A Raisin in the Sun. Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2, The Call) also starred in the first Think Like a Man.

Following box-office bomb After Earth, Shyamalan needed a win. The Sixth Sense director produced and financed The Visit on his own for a mere $5 million. The comedic-laced thriller, earning a B- CinemaScore, follows the saga of two children who are sent to spend time with their grandparents, only to find evil lurking.

Shyamalan showed an early cut of The Visit to producer Jason Blum, who then brought it to Universal, where Blum has a distribution deal. Universal quickly agreed to release the film, believing The Visit would be a big draw for teenagers, and particularly females. Nearly 60 percent of the audience was under the age of 25, with females accounting for 56 percent of ticket buyers.

"It looks like it is the No. 1 horror film opening of the year," said Universal domestic distribution president Nic Carpou. "With what Jason brings to a brand that Night is known for, you can go to this film expecting to be entertained."

Overseas, The Visit opened in 14 markets, grossing $3.8 million, including a third-place finish in the U.K. with $1.6 million and a No. 1 finish in Spain with $1.6 million.

War Room placed No. 3 in its third weekend with $7.4 million for a domestic total of $39.2 million. Broad Green Pictures' Robert Redford and Nick Nolte's A Walk in the Woods followed with an estimated $5 million from 2,135 theaters for a 10-day domestic total of $20 million.

Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation rounded out the top five with an estimated $4.2 million, narrowly beating Straight Outta Compton and pushing its North American cume to $188 million and worldwide haul to $613 million. Compton took in $4.1 million for a domestic total of $155.7 million; overseas, it grossed another $4.3 million from 15 markets for a global cume of $180.7 million.

Also opening this weekend in North America was IDP/Samuel Goldwyn's Christian drama 90 Minutes in Heaven, starring Hayden Christensen and Kate Bosworth. The film, directed by Michael Polish, is based on Don Piper's biography recounting how he spent 90 minutes in heaven following a horrific car crash. 90 Minutes is the first title from Giving Films, a sister company of Family Christian Stores. 90 Minutes in Heaven grossed an estimated $2.2 million from 838 theaters to come in No. 9.

New offerings at the specialty box office included Oren Moverman's homeless drama, Time Out of Mind, starring Richard Gere, and Sleeping With Other People, starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie. Sundance Film Festival entry Sleeping With Other People, whose producers include Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, earned $103,125 from five theaters for a solid location average of $20,625 for IFC Films.

Time Out of Mind, also from IFC, grossed $15,216 for the weekend from three theaters for a location average of $5,072.

Radius-TWC did nicely by Goodnight Mommy, an Austrian horror film opening to $60,286 from four locations for a theater average of $15,072. Directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, the film is Austria's official entry for this year's Oscar race.

Documentary Meet the Patels opened in five theaters to $75,597 for Alchemy, one of the best numbers of the year to date for a documentary. The film's location average was $15,119.
 

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