Tyler Perry’s “Madea” franchise may be giving up the ghost, but the final movie in the long-running series is expected to have a lively debut at the box office this weekend.
Lionsgate’s “A Madea Family Funeral,” the 11th film to feature Perry as the volatile grandma, is poised to open with $18 million to $20 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada, according to people who have read pre-release tracking surveys.
Still, that may not be enough to unseat Universal Pictures’ DreamWorks Animation movie “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World.” The third film in the animated fantasy trilogy opened with a franchise-best $55 million last weekend. The only other new wide release this week is Focus Features’ “Greta,” a dark mystery starring Isabelle Huppert and Chloë Grace Moretz, which is on track for a soft $5-million opening.
Life after death?
“A Madea Family Funeral” marks the end of the line not only for the Madea movies but also for Perry’s deal with Lionsgate, the Santa Monica studio that has released the prolific director-producer-actor’s features since 2005. Perry inked a major film and TV deal with Paramount Pictures’ parent company Viacom Inc. in 2017.
The “Madea” comedies have been reliably profitable for Lionsgate during the last 14 years, starting with “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” which grossed $50 million on a minuscule budget. The series has expanded in surprising ways, with installments including “Boo! A Madea Halloween” in 2016 and its 2017 sequel. The Madea movies have grossed a total of more than $500 million.
The departure of Perry leaves Lionsgate with one fewer franchise as it tries to compete with growing giants in the media industry. Lionsgate’s upcoming film lineup includes “John Wick Chapter 3” and a reboot of the classic comic book character “Hellboy.”
More green for ‘Green Book’
To capitalize on its three Oscar wins, including best picture, Universal Pictures’ “Green Book” will expand its release to play in 2,600 theaters this weekend. That’s roughly double the number of theaters previously showing the film, about a white bouncer who drives a black pianist on a concert tour through the Jim Crow South.
Although the so-called Oscar bump has been modest for other films this year, the awards season has been a boon for “Green Book.” The $23-million drama-comedy opened to lackluster results in November but slowly rose to $70 million in domestic receipts.
Its best picture victory on Sunday was considered somewhat surprising because many analysts had predicted a win for Netflix’s “Roma.”
Good news for ‘Alita’ in China?
“Alita: Battle Angel,” 20th Century Fox’s $170-million sci-fi adventure, has done poor business in the U.S. But the movie about a slightly built cyborg enjoyed a strong opening in China. The movie debuted with $64 million in the world’s second-largest film market, which is more than the $62 million it generated in two weeks at home, according to film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway.
Globally, “Alita,” directed by Robert Rodriguez, has collected $265 million so far — still not enough to get the ambitious feature out of the red after a worldwide marketing push.
“Alita’s” release in China comes after local sci-fi blockbuster “The Wandering Earth” dominated the market during the Lunar New Year, a period in which Hollywood movies are blocked from opening in theaters. “The Wandering Earth” has grossed more than $600 million in China.