Boo! A Madea Halloween did what Tyler Perry’s Madea movies tend to do and have done with relative regularity for the last 11 years. It topped the weekend box office with a debut of over $25 million. I will admit to a certain amusement over the years as it took many years for box office pundits to stop being “shocked” when the latest Perry film snagged an over/under $25m opening weekend and/or topped the box office. To wit, the holiday-themed comedy earned a strong $28.5 million, which gives the Lionsgate release a substantial 3.0x weekend multiplier.
It achieved the biggest weekend multiplier among the eight Madea movies (including I Can Do Bad All By Myself but not Meet the Browns). It will also be the third-biggest weekend gross for such a picture and the fourth-biggest debut for any Tyler Perry production. Yet, for what it’s worth, inflation means that nearly every other Madea adventure (save Madea Christmas which opened with just $16m) sold more tickets. A minor quibble.
As a general rule, the Madea-centric Tyler Perry films do better than the likes of The Family Thay Preys or Good Deeds, with the obvious exception of the Why Did I Get Married? series which was powered by the likes of Janet Jackson and Jill Scott. Except Madea Goes to Jail ($41 million opening/$90m domestic finish) and A Madea Christmas ($16m opening/$52m domestic finish), the Madea movies open between $21m and $30m and end up with $50-$65m domestic by the end. So it looks like business as usual.
At a glance, there is little reason to assume any different here, with the caveat that the Halloween weekend may prevent as steep of a second-weekend drop as is expected for this franchise. The average multiplier for a Madea movie is just 2.2x, which would give this one a $63m domestic finish. We’ll see if the holiday and the lack of comparative competition gives it anything approaching legs. But the important thing is that the franchise hasn’t missed a step.
That it has done so in an era when, comparatively speaking, Tyler Perry’s melodramas aren’t the only game in town for those seeking mainstream, multiplex-friendly offerings featuring majority black casts. The conundrum of Perry’s career is that his films were often viewed under a microscope concerning how they represented black America (especially black women) partially because he was the only one giving leading roles/star vehicles to the likes of Kimberly Elise and Taraji P. Henson.
I have long argued that Perry basically helped keep an entire generation of black actors somewhat employed as the DVD boom died and Hollywood utterly discarded the likes of Soul Food or The Best Man in favor of four-quadrant global tentpoles which tended to prominently star white men. That’s still mostly true. But that the Perry brand still thrives in an era where we have Ride Along and No Good Deed is evidence that Perry’s films may well have broken out even in a slightly more equitable marketplace.