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Movie projector: Tyler Perry set to rule the box office again; '9' is off to a good start

September 10, 2009 |  3:24 pm

CanDoBadWith many A-list actors no longer able to guarantee a big opening for a pricey tentpole movie anymore, Tyler Perry is as close as Hollywood comes to Mr. Reliable.

The mini-media mogul's seventh movie in the last three and a half years, "I Can Do Bad All by Myself," will be released by Lionsgate tomorrow and has a near lock on the top spot for the weekend, with ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada expected to be around $20 million.

That should make the low-cost picture yet another profit generator for Lionsgate, which saw its theatrical revenue decline 26% in the most recent quarter. 

More than 50% of African Americans, who make up most of Perry's fan base, have indicated in pre-release polling that they are interested in the movie, according to a person who has seen the data. As it regularly does for Perry films, Lionsgate has booked a higher-than-average number of theaters in the South for "I Can Do Bad All by Myself" in order to maximize exposure to Perry's base audience.

Last year, Lionsgate opened Perry's "The Family That Preys" on the same weekend and grossed $17.4 million. There is some speculation that the actor/writer/director's fan base has expanded after the spectacular success of February's "Madea Goes to Jail," which took in $41 million in its opening weekend.

9 The weekend's wild card, executives at several studios said, is "9." Focus Features opened the quirky stop-motion animated film Wednesday to take advantage of the 9/9/09 date and sold $3.1 million worth of tickets, a solid start given how unusual it is for a movie to debut midweek in September. It probably will take in about $1 million today and collect low- to mid-teen millions over the weekend.

The movie, which cost $30 million to produce, is generating strong interest among college-aged audiences. Focus is hoping that "9" will attract an art-house adult crowd with its offbeat tone, as well as families, just like the studio's February hit "Coraline," which grossed $75.3 million domestically.

Summit Entertainment's horror movie "Sorority Row" and Dark Castle's thriller "Whiteout," which is being distributed by Warner Bros., may potentially cut into each others' audiences as both try to attract young women. Summit has been adjusting its marketing to hopefully draw more young men, and its film appears to have a slight edge going into the weekend, though both movies are expected to each gross $5 million to $8 million.

"Sorority Row" cost only $12.5 million to produce, while "Whiteout," which stars Kate Beckinsdale, carries a heftier price tag of about $35 million.

-- Ben Fritz

Top photo: Taraji P. Henson, Mary J. Blige and Adam Rodriguez in "I Can Do Bad All by Myself." Credit: Quantrell D. Colbert / Lionsgate. Bottom photo: A scene from "9." Credit: Focus Features.