The holiday weekend will see 3 new wide releases take on Horton Hears A Who as it tries to stay in the top spot from last week.
Tyler Perry's Meet The Browns (reviews) faces school bully bodyguard Owen Wilson as Drillbit Taylor (reviews); While Honeymoon couple Joshua Jackson and Rachael Taylor haunted by something out of the past in the horror flick Shutter (reviews)...
Dave McNary and Pamela McClintock in Variety
Lionsgate's "Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns" will vie for the top spot in a close race at the weekend box office with holdover "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who," which could hold well since most kiddies are out of school for Easter.
Perry, who has a strong track record at the B.O. and a hit sitcom on TBS, directed and appears in "Browns," based on his play.
Pic, which toplines Angela Bassett, opens in roughly 2,006 theaters. Film marks Perry's return to the big screen as the popular character Madea, matron of the fun-loving Brown clan.
Paramount has modest expectations for Judd Apatow-produced teen laffer "Drillbit Taylor," which toplines Owen Wilson and opens in some 3,000 theaters. At the same time, the studio expects the PG-13-rated comedy, about three geeky teens who hire a solider of fortune, to have strong legs and appeal heavily to male tweens and teenagers.
The weekend's other wide opener is New Regency's PG-13 horror pic "Shutter," which Fox is distributing in 2,750. A remake of the Thai film, "Shutter" was directed by Japanese horror helmer Masayuki Ochiai ("Infection"). Pic is set in Tokyo, where two American honeymooners notice frightening, ghostly images in their photographs.
Each in its own way, movies this weekend will look to capitalize on the Easter holiday; historically, Easter Sunday is never a big movie going day. Friday, however, helps to make up for this dip, with 75% of schools not in session.
Last year, Good Friday racked up $44.8 million, the third-best Friday of the year at the domestic box office. Saturday saw grosses of $45.3 million, while Sunday took a dramatic drop, posting grosses of $26.9 million.
"Meet the Browns" should see brisk business on Thursday and Friday because of the holiday, in addition to Saturday.
But if "Horton" enjoys a stronger-than-normal hold because kids are out of school, it could overtake it.
Last weekend, "Horton" opened at $45 million, the fifth best opening ever for a G-rated animated pic. Toon made another $3.6 million on Monday and $3.9 million on Tuesday for a cume of $52.5 million in its first five days.
"Meet the Browns" marks the sixth movie Perry has directed for Lionsgate. His first film, "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," became a sleeper hit, underscoring the B.O. power of African-American moviegoers. Pic opened to $21.9 million in February 2005 on its way to cuming $50.4 million domestically.
His second film, "Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion," opened to $30 million in February 2006 on its way to racking up a domestic cume of $63.2 million.
Last year's "Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girl," in which the filmmaker didn't star, did not fare as well, opening to $11.2 million in February and posting a domestic cume of $31.3 million.
"Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?" opened to $21.3 million in October on its way to cuming $55.2 million. Perry starred in that film, although not as the character Madea.
In "Meet the Browns," Madea appears only in parts.
"Drillbit" was directed by Steven Brill ("Mr. Deeds") and also stars Danny McBride, Leslie Mann and David Dorfman. Par said the film cost $30 million to produce. Studio is relying heavily on word of mouth to lure auds in the coming weeks and says it considers opening weekend almost a sneak.
Joshua Rich of EW says:
Dr. Seuss' elephant looks likely to retain the box office crown in a tight race with ''Meet the Browns''
Read more of his preview...
I don't know if I would be so quick to count Perry out of the winner's circle just yet. His films have pulled out victories before.
Next Week: Kevin Spacey reunites with Kate Bosworth for their 3rd film-the fact based drama 21 Ryan Phillippe is thrown for a Stop-Loss and comic book flicks get spoofed in Superhero Movie....