Box Office: 'Boo! A Madea Halloween' Scares Off Tom Cruise's 'Jack Reacher' With $27.6M
Elsewhere, horror prequel 'Ouija: Origin of Evil' opens to solid numbers, while comedy 'Keeping Up With the Joneses' craters; 'Moonlight' scores the top location average of the year so far at the specialty box office; and 'Michael Moore in TrumpLand' posts strong numbers in New York City.
In a late October surprise, Tyler Perry's Boo! A Madea Halloween easily scared off Tom Cruise's sequel Jack Reacher: Never Go Back to win the weekend box office race with a stellar $27.6 million from 2,260 North American theaters.
Never Go Back followed at No. 2 with $23 million from 3,780 theaters, in what box-office observers describe as a decent start even if it lost to A Madea Halloween, a needed win for Lionsgate and Perry's best showing in six years as a director. The comedy-horror spool originated from a fake Madea movie featured in Chris Rock's Top Five and nabbed an A CinemaScore from audiences.
Perry's film, which also stars Bella Thorne, Diamond White and Cassi Davis, follows Perry's popular Madea character as she spends a haunted Halloween fending off killers, paranormal poltergeists, ghosts, ghouls and zombies while keeping a watchful eye on a group of misbehaving teens.
"It's unique and different for a Halloween film. And there hasn't been a Madea film since December 2013, so I think audiences were ready," said Lionsgate distribution chief David Spitz. He added that A Madea Halloween played to a more diverse audience. The vast majority of the audience for past Madea movies was African-American (80 percent to 90 percent). This time, that number dropped to 60 percent.
It remains to be seen whether Never Go Back, an adaptation of Lee Child's book series about an ex-military policeman fighting for justice wherever he goes, can successfully spawn a mid-range action franchise for Cruise, Paramount and Skydance Productions. Directed by Edward Zwick, the $60 million film also stars Cobie Smulders and Aldis Hodge.
The first Jack Reacher opened to $15 million over the Dec. 21-23 weekend in 2012 and ultimately earned $218.3 million worldwide, much of it overseas. Many were surprised when a sequel was greenlighted, but Paramount believed there was plenty of growth opportunity internationally, where Cruise remains a far bigger star.
Never Go Back topped the weekend foreign chart with $31 million from 40 markets this weekend for a global bow of $54 million, up from $42 million for the first pic. It came in ahead of the original in a number of countries — the main exception being China, where it debuted to $5.6 million, an 11 percent dip. (Instead, the U.S. franchise making noise in the Middle Kingdom was Jason Statham's Mechanic: Resurrection with a $24 million launch.)
"In this marketplace, sequels are incredibly difficult, yet we opened 28 percent more than the first Jack Reacher on a global basis," said Megan Colligan, Paramount's president of worldwide marketing and distribution. "This movie was made for virtually the same price as the first, and we've already grossed $54 million. These are character-based action movies made for a price. It isn't a giant, expensive tentpole."
Overseas, Never Go Back came in ahead of Sony holdover Inferno, which took in $28.9 million from 58 markets in its second weekend, for a foreign total of $94.8 million. Inferno, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks, opens in the U.S. on Friday.
In North America, Never Go Back had to battle generally poor reviews (it earned a B+ CinemaScore from audiences), as well as holdover The Accountant, since both films are playing to older males.
Like the Madea pic, Universal and Blumhouse Productions' Ouija: Origin of Evil also decided to open ahead of Halloween weekend.
The supernatural horror prequel placed No. 3 with $14.1 million from 3,167 theaters after costing less than $9 million to make. It came in well behind the $19.9 million debut of the first Ouija in 2014, but hopes to scare up strong business through Halloween since there are no other horror movies opening.
Michael Bay's Platinum Dunes and Hasbro, maker of the classic board game Ouija, are also partners on the film. Directed by Mike Flanagan, the film is set in 1967 in Los Angeles where a widowed mother and family fake seances as part of a scam.
Returns were grim for the weekend's fourth new nationwide offering, Fox 2000's Keeping Up With the Joneses.
The $40 million comedy bombed with $5.6 million from 3,022 theaters, the tenth-worst debut ever for a title going out in more than 3,000 theaters, according to Box Office Mojo. Keeping Up With the Joneses, which placed No. 7, certainly isn't lacking in pedigree. Produced by Laurie MacDonald and Walter Parkes, the comedy was directed by Greg Mottola and stars Zach Galifianakis, Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot.
Back in the top five, Warner Bros.' The Accountant declined a slim 43 percent in its second weekend to $14 million for a 10-day domestic total of $47.9 million. Overseas, it earned another $5.6 million from 20 markets for a foreign cume of $10.2 million and a global tally of $58.1 million.
DreamWorks and Participant's The Girl on the Train rounded out the top five domestically with $7.3 million for a cume of $60 million.
The big headline at the specialty box office was Barry Jenkins' awards contender Moonlight. The drama shone bright, grossing $414,740 from four theaters in Los Angeles and New York for A24 to score the best location average ($103,685) since 2015's The Revenant ($118,640).
Moonlight traces the life of a young black gay man struggling with his sexuality from his troubled childhood growing up in a tough Miami neighborhood to maturity. Naomie Harris, Andre Holland, Janelle Monae, Ashton Sanders, Jharrel Jerome and Mahershala Ali also star.
Michael Moore's surprise documentary Michael Moore in TrumpLand opened in two IFC theaters in New York City and Encino, Calif., earning $50,200 for the three-day weekend for a location average of $25,100, just ahead of recent political docs Hillary's America: A Secret History of the Democratic Party ($24,000) and Weiner ($16,835). Those two films earned more overall, however, since they rolled out in more theaters.
TrumpLand, which bowed Wednesday, shows a five-day cume at $64,247. Its exposure in theaters will be limited since it debuted simultaneously on iTunes, where it's the No. 1 title, according to the filmmaker's reps. The doc did nearly all of its business at the IFC Center in New York City.