‘Phat’ plays thin

Newmyer broke first rule of producing

“Phat Girlz” became the latest Hollywood effort that’s had trouble connecting with African-American women. Fox Searchlight reported the April 7 release opened to just $3.8 million.

Pic is notable because it was the last produced by Bobby Newmyer, who died in December; Newmyer violated the first rule of producing by fronting the $3 million budget with his own money. The last $1.5 million came from second mortgages on his L.A. and Telluride homes.

He was likely able to pay off those bank notes with the proceeds of a distrib deal that his Outlaw Prods. did with Searchlight in November.

Hollywood has had a bit of trouble winning the African-American femme aud.

Tyler Perry has had a couple of hit pics, but he’d built up a devoted fan base well before they arrived in theaters. The latest, “Madea’s Family Reunion,” opened to $30 million.

Other pics have put up more modest numbers. Focus’ “Something New” bowed in February to $4.9 million, while last summer Par saw “The Honeymooners” take just $5.5 million in its first frame.

“African-American women are really tough to get in,” says one studio exec. But, in good news for Searchlight and Newmyer’s family, he notes such titles have been overperforming on DVD.

“Homevideo really does salvage them.”

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