Box-Office Preview: 'The Visit,' 'Perfect Guy' Eye Close Race for No. 1

The Visit Perfect Man Split - H 2015
Courtesy of Universal; Courtesy of Screen Gems

M. Night Shyamalan's horror-thriller 'The Visit' casts the elderly in an entirely new light; 'Perfect Guy' is the latest African-American film to open at the box office.

M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit and Screen Gems' The Perfect Guy are set for a close post-summer battle at the box office this weekend, with each tracking to open in the $15 million to $17 million range.

Perfect Guy, directed by David M. Rosenthal, hopes to repeat the success that other recent African-American movies have enjoyed in recent weeks, namely, N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton and Christian drama War Room. The $12 million thriller stars Sanaa Lathan as a successful lobbyist who begins a torrid affair with a charming, dangerous stranger (Michael Ealy) as her former boyfriend (Morris Chestnut) resurfaces.

Sony insiders say they would be happy with an opening in the low teens, considering Perfect Guy cost less than most Screen Gems titles, or $12 million. The film opens Friday in 2,200 locations (the studio won't do Thursday-night previews).

Ealy has starred in a number of films 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.

Shyamalan, who has been on a losing streak at the box office, made The Visit on his own for $5 million. The thriller, opening in 3,068 theaters, follows the saga of two children who are sent to spend time with their grandparents, only to find evil lurking.

The filmmaker showed an early cut of The Visit to producer Jason Blum, who then brought it to Universal, where Blum has a distribution deal. Universal, which agreed to release the film, believes The Visit will be a big draw for teenagers, thanks to its friendly PG-13 rating.

Overseas, The Visit opens in 14 markets, including Spain and the U.K.

Also opening this weekend is MGM'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.

New offerings at the specialty box office include Oren Moverman's homeless drama, Time Out of Mind, starring Richard Gere, and Sleeping With Other People, starring Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie.