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Tyler Perry: The brand that keeps on delivering

September 13, 2009 | 12:16 pm

DoBad2 In the last year, major stars like Eddie Murphy, Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Russell Crowe and Jack Black have all underperformed at the box office.

But Tyler Perry just keeps on delivering.

The actor-writer-director's latest effort at the box office, "I Can Do Bad All by Myself," was No. 1 this weekend, grossing a studio-estimated $24 million. Perry's movies consistently cost under $20 million to produce and are a steady profit stream for Lions Gate Entertainment.

"I Can Do Bad" made 37% more than Perry's "The Family that Preys" on the same weekend last year. And while "Madea Goes to Jail" and "Madea's Family Reunion" remain his two biggest openings since he started making pictures for Lions Gate in early 2006, this weekend's picture is his most successful that didn't feature the popular "Madea" character front and center.

As is typical for Perry films, the audience for "I Can Do Bad All by Myself" was predominantly black women, with 75% of moviegoers female and 80% African American. Tyler Perry is the only brand that seems able to bring out this audience consistently recently.

And there are no signs of fatigue, even though he puts out two similar movies ever year. Sequel "Why Did I Get Married Too?" is set for release next Easter weekend, while "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf" is expected to come out next fall.

Audiences gave "I Can Do Bad" an average grade of A, according to market research firm CinemaScore. Good buzz doesn't usually result in a long box office run for Tyler Perry films, however, as his core audience typically rushes out on the first weekend.

9Focus Features' animated film "9" artfully tied together an audience of young adults interested in its quirky content and families, grossing a solid $15.3 million from its Wednesday opening through Sunday. With its PG-13 rating, "9" initially attracted primarily college-aged audiences, but appears to have drawn at least some parents with older children to Saturday matinees.

 The movie cost only $24 million to produce, meaning it should end up a financial success for Focus if it holds up well at the box office. It will likely have to rely more on young adults than families going forward, however, as Sony opens animated family film "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" on Friday and Disney debuts 3-D versions of the two "Toy Story" movies two weeks later.

"9" also opened in Russia this weekend and earned a respectable $2.6 million in the country, which has been a red hot market for movies this year.

Two new thriller/horror films both opened poorly. Summit Entertainment's "Sorority Row" sold $5.3 million worth of tickets over the weekend, while Dark Castle Entertainment's "Whiteout," which was distributed by Warner Bros., grossed $5.1 million.

That's a bigger disappointment for Dark Castle, however, as "Whiteout" cost $35 million to make. "Sorority Row" cost only $12.5 million.

"Inglourious Basterds" continues to be one of the season's biggest hits, coming in No. 3 on its third weekend with $6.5 million, down a relatively modest 44%. On a worldwide basis, the $70 million production from Weinstein Co. and Universal has now sold more than $203 million worth of tickets.

"The Final Destination" collected $17.3 million from international markets this weekend, bringing its foreign total to $55.3 million and worldwide ticket sales after less than three weeks to an impressive $113.5 million.

Here are the top 10 movies at the domestic box office this weekend, according to studio estimates and Hollywood.com:

1. "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All by Myself" (Lions Gate): $24 million opening weekend.

2. "9" (Focus Features): $10.9 million weekend, combined with $4.3 million on Wednesday and Thursday for a $15.3 million five-day start.

3. "Inglourious Basterds" (Weinstein Co./Universal): $6.5 million on its fourth weekend, a drop of 44%. Domestic total: $104.3 million.

4. "All About Steve" (Fox): Declined 48% on its second weekend to $5.8 million, bringing its total U.S. and Canadian ticket sales to $21.8 million.

5. "The Final Destination" (Warner Bros./New Line): Off 56% on its third weekend, grossing $5.5 million. Total domestic ticket sales for the horror film: $58.3 million.

6. "Sorority Row" (Summit): Opened to a soft $5.3 million.

7. "Whiteout" (Dark Castle/Warner Bros.): Collected a disappointing $5.1 million on its debut weekend.

8. "District 9" (Sony/QED): Down 49% on its fifth weekend to $3.6 million, bringing its domestic total to $108.5 million.

9. "Julie & Julia" (Sony): Declined 38% on its sixth weekend to $3.3 million. Cumulative U.S. and Canadian ticket sales: $85.4 million.

10. "Gamer" (Lions Gate): $3.2 million on its second weekend, a big drop of 66%. Domestic total: $16.1 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Correction (5 PM): An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that Disney will open 3-D versions of its two "Toy Story" movies next week. In fact, they will debut Oct. 2.

Top photo: Taraji P. Henson and Adam Rodriguez at the premiere of "I Can Do Bad All by Myself." Credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press

Bottom photo: A scene from "9." Credit: Focus Features.

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