For richer: 'Married' life is good with $21.4 mil dowry

'Night' edges 'Clayton' for third

A trio of awards-season hopefuls were forced to cede the spotlight during the weekend to Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married?" the latest populist hit from the Atlanta-based filmmaker. The Lionsgate release, which opened in 2,011 theaters, took the top spot for the weekend with a $21.4 million bow.

The PG-13 domestic dramedy about the trials of marriage — based on one of the prolific Perry's stage plays and featuring an ensemble cast that includes Janet Jackson — attracted black moviegoers, though Lionsgate reported that it also boasted crossover business.

The CinemaScore sampling of the opening-weekend audience showed many more females than males in attendance — 74%-26%, respectively — and overall, moviegoers applauded it with a grade of A-plus.

Making it even more difficult for the new arrivals to gain a foothold was Disney's family-oriented sports tale "The Game Plan," starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. It fell just 34% in its third weekend compared with the previous Friday-to-Sunday, taking second place for the frame with $11 million. Its domestic purse is now a resounding $59 million.

In a veritable photo finish, Sony's "We Own the Night" edged ahead of Warners' "Michael Clayton" to take the third spot overall.

The Sunday morning estimates, published Monday, had given "Clayton" a slight lead over "Night." When the dust settled, though, James Gray's R-rated "Night," a crime drama starring Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Wahlberg, prevailed with $10.8 million in 2,362 theaters for a per-theater average of $4,584. Drawing more males than females (54%-46%), it picked up a B-minus from its CinemaScore sample.

By contrast, the R-rated "Clayton," writer-director Tony Gilroy's legal drama starring George Clooney, drew slightly more females than males and walked away with a CinemaScore grade of B.

Expanding from its exclusive bow in 15 theaters the previous weekend, the movie moved up to a wide release of 2,511 screens, where it pulled in $10.4 million for a per-theater average of $4,131 and a domestic cume to date of $11.5 million.

Universal's "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," a Working Title sequel to the 1998 costume pic "Elizabeth" and the third awards hopeful to set sail on crowded waters during the weekend, had to settle for a sixth-place showing. Playing to decidedly more women than men (61%-39%), it picked up a CinemaScore grade of B. At the boxoffice, though, it collected just $6.2 million in 2,001 theaters, good for a per-theater average of $3,075.

It entered the lists just below the second weekend of DreamWorks/ Paramount's "The Heartbreak Kid," which took in $7.3 million as it fell 48%. Its domestic tally stands at $25.9 million.

On the specialty film front, Craig Gillespie's "Lars and the Real Girl," starring Ryan Gosling and a blow-up doll, enjoyed a promising showing. From Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and distributed by MGM, the movie seduced $90,418 out of seven theaters for a per-screen average of $12,917.

The Weinstein Co.'s "Control," Anton Corbijn's biopic about the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, stirred up even more interest in the one theater in New York, where it debuted to the tune of $27,674.

The returns were less conclusive for "Sleuth," a remake of the 1972 mystery movie that this time out stars Michael Caine and Jude Law. The Sony Pictures Classics release found $46,265 in nine theaters for a per-theater average of $5,141.

Despite the activity, the overall boxoffice declined compared with the same time last year. The 133 films tracked by The Hollywood Reporter this frame amassed $99.9 million, down 5.7% from last year's $105.9 million.