Lionsgate Scores Biggest Opening Weekend Ever


Lionsgate’s Madea Goes To Jail was the No. 1 movie at the box office this weekend, pulling in an estimated $41.1 million and giving the beleagured studio, in which Carl Icahn now has a 13% stake, its biggest opening weekend ever.

Madea’s weekend total surpasses Lionsgate’s previous high of $33.6 million with Saw III in 2006. The Tyler Perry film also had a ridiculously high per-screen average of $20,236, the highest for any film since Twilight. Meanwhile, Lionsgate’s last film, My Bloody Valentine 3-D topped $50 million this weekend. Steve Rothenberg, Lionsgate’s distribution head, told Variety, “To have the second biggest hit of the year after less than two months is really a good feeling.”

The rest of the top 5 was made up of holdovers. Fox’s unstoppable Taken, um, took second place with $11.4 million for a $95 million total and Focus Features’ critical fave Coraline finished third with $11 million. It seems He’s Just Not That Into You and Friday the 13th both suffered bigger declines than our box-office prognosticators predicted, even though you wouldn’t think Not That Into You was suffering based on the nearly sold-out show we attended last night. The two New Line films fell to fourth and sixth places with $8.5 million for Not That Into You and $7.8 million for Friday the 13th.

What was the No. 5 movie this weekend? Slumdog Millionaire, no doubt bolstered by its status as tonight’s Best Picture favourite at the Oscars, not to mention AMC’s Best Picture showcase, which lifted the weekend grosses for four of the five nominees, all which were shown back to back at various AMC theatres on Saturday. The only film not to get a boost was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which was actually down 25% from last weekend. Curious, indeed.

Finally, the weekend’s other wide release, Sony’s Fired Up, only managed to rustle up $6 million for a ninth place finish.