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A very dear ‘Diary’

Times Staff Writer

Urban theater phenomenon Tyler Perry’s “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” emerged as the No. 1 movie over the weekend. With Kimberly Elise in the title role and Perry, who adapted his play for the script, playing three characters, the film took in an estimated $22.7 million, Lions Gate Films reported.

For five of the first eight weekends of 2005, and all but the first weekend of February, a movie starring African Americans has led the nation’s box office: “Coach Carter,” “Are We There Yet?,” “Hitch” and now “Diary.”

It was just ahead of the $21 million that Sony Pictures estimated for Will Smith’s “Hitch” in its third weekend. “Diary” was in fewer than half as many theaters -- 1,483, versus 3,571 for “Hitch.”

“For Lions Gate it’s terrific. We have a new franchise in Tyler Perry,” said Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate Films Releasing, confirming that filming will begin in July on the company’s next Perry project, “Madea’s Family Reunion” for release in February 2006.

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Among other films opening over the weekend were the werewolf movie “Cursed” and the Tommy Lee Jones comedy “Man of the House,” neither of which were screened for critics. “Cursed,” from director Wes Craven and Miramax’s Dimension Films label, took in an estimated $9.6 million at No. 4; Sony’s “Man of the House” grossed an estimated $9 million in fifth place.


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