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6 YEARS

BULLSEYE, April 22: 'Elephants,' 'Madea,' 'Prom,' 'Thor,' More

See where audience interest is leading into the weekend.

As the bombast of summer draws near, the studios are taking this last chance to get some attention for non-robot-related fare.

So for the April 22 weekend, Fox will open its romantic drama Water for Elephants, starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, and Lionsgate will roll out its latest Tyler Perry joint, Madea's Big Happy Family. Disneynature is also unleashing its documentary African Cats, though not as wide.

 

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Perry's last, For Colored Girls, opened to $22 million last year, which is on the low end for his movies. But it didn't have the advantage of featuring his popular Madea character, who last appeared in I Can Do Bad All By Myself in 2009. That didn't hit huge, but Madea Goes to Jail, also that year, opened north of $40 million on its way to $90 million for its run. Water for Elephants is a new direction for director Francis Lawrence, who helmed I Am Legend and Constantine. But Witherspoon has a sizable fanbase, and Pattinson could end up pulling in a lot of Twilight moms with the prospect of seeing him once again tortured and in love.

According to the Flixster Bullseye, all three releases are skewing into the female, over-25 demo and could bite into each others' potential audiences. Elephants shows the most activity and interest, and skews youngest, mainly because of Pattinson. But Madea is misleading because Perry's audience may not be on Flixster to the extent that these other movies' fans are. Perry's bubble thus shows up very light. But as far as commitment goes, his fans are as loyal as they come.

So Madea should come out well in front of Elephants, though Fox Animation's Rio is the strongest of the holdovers and could very well top the weekend again after last week's $42 million opening and strong reviews.

The April 29 weekend is shaping up to be dominated by Fast Five, which is showing intense commitment to see it. And it's skewing strongly toward young dudes, which (in this context anyway) are likely to stick to their commitments. Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil and Prom are looking to pick up the stragglers, though the latter could have more appeal with young girls than the Bullseye shows.

And then it's summer, with Thor leading the charge opposite counter-programming titles Jumping the Broom and Something Borrowed. The Want-to-See ratio for Thor among male Flixsters is literally off the chart -- 44 to 1 -- so the dark blue in the bubble actually doesn't show just how intense commitment is. That's likely to grow even more over the next two weeks.

Here's Pamela McClintock's box office preview for the weekend for added analysis.