Box Office: ‘Perfect Guy’ Elbows Ahead of ‘The Visit’ With $26.7 Million

'The Perfect Guy,' 'The Visit' Box
Courtesy of Screen Gems

Thriller “The Perfect Guy” narrowly beat out horror film “The Visit” for first place at the weekend box office, picking up a leading $26.7 million.

“The Visit,” M. Night Shyamalan’s return to the shock and chills genre that made him famous with “The Sixth Sense,” was close behind with a sterling $25.7 million. Going into the weekend, both films were expected to pull in between $15 million and $17 million.

“The Perfect Guy” has more than doubled its $12 million budget in a single weekend, putting it on a path to profitability. The story of a successful lobbyist (Sanaa Lathan) who rebounds from a breakup by embarking on a new relationship with a Mr. Wrong (Michael Ealy) was backed by Sony’s ScreenGems division. The studio had a similar success on the same weekend last year when “No Good Deed,” a thriller with Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, debuted to $24.2 million.

“It’s ideal timing, because there’s not a lot of competition in the marketplace and you can really stand out with a slightly lower [ad] spend,” said Josh Greenstein, president of worldwide marketing and distribution at Sony.

In order to bring in its audience while keeping costs at a minimum, the studio aggressively went after African-American moviegoers. It launched a BET Awards takeover for “The Perfect Guy” and also debuted a customized trailer to appear alongside “Straight Outta Compton” that was wordless save for a sultry rendition of “I Put a Spell On You.”

“We wanted to sell it as a sexy, taut thriller,” said Greenstein. The picture marks the first ScreenGems title he has handled the marketing campaign for since he was brought over to Sony from Paramount Pictures in 2014.

“The Visit” arrives courtesy of producer Jason Blum’s Blumhouse label and cost a slender $5 million to produce, very much in keeping with the economic model of a company behind micro-budget hits like “The Purge” and “Sinister.” Universal distributed the film in 3,069 theaters. Its success represents a comeback for Shyamalan whose career was colder than one of those “Sixth Sense” dead people after “The Last Airbender,” “Lady in the Water” and “After Earth” all flopped.

“M. Night Shyamalan is back,” said Nicholas Carpou, head of domestic distribution at Universal. “This was a great collaboration. There was a lot of goodwill out there for a master storyteller working in this genre.”

“The Perfect Guy” and “The Visit” both tried to appeal to different segments of the movie-going public — the former made its pitch to African-American audiences, while the latter appealed to younger ticket buyers — although there was some demographic overlap in who showed up. “The Perfect Guy’s” opening weekend crowd was 70% female, 41% under the age of 25, 61% African-American, 20% Caucasian and 13% Hispanic. “The Visit” brought in a group that was 48% under the age of 21, 60% female, 39% Caucasian, 39% Hispanic and 10% African-American.

The strong grosses for both films helped push overall ticket sales up more than 15% from the year-ago period when “No Good Deed” and “Dolphin Tale 2” topped charts.

Not every new release was so lucky. Samuel Goldwyn’s “90 Minutes in Heaven” failed to connect with faith-based crowds, earning a disappointing $2.2 million across 878 theaters. It may have been overshadowed by the continued strength of “War Room.” The Sony Pictures and Affirm faith-based family drama was third place at the box office, taking in $7.4 million for the weekend and bringing its domestic haul to $39.2 million. It is now the highest-grossing picture of filmmaking brothers Alex Kendrick and Stephen Kendrick’s career, topping 2011’s “Courageous” and its $34.5 million total.

The top five was rounded out by Broad Green’s “A Walk in the Woods” with $4.7 million, bringing its total to $19.9 million, and Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” with $4.1 million, pushing its domestic gross to $188.2 million.

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  1. lewis johnson says:

    I want to know how they know the demographics (age, sex, race) of the movie goers. There was nobody at the theatre taking a survey.

  2. jtclaw says:

    Why is it so hard to find the per screen/showing numbers for movies like this . I bet they look interesting.

  3. Jack says:

    The Christian market has turned against these “Heaven tourism” stories as cons, especially since the boy in one of them (a young man now) made it clear last year that he’d made it all up when he was a child. War Room in contrast is essentially a drama about a wife turning to God in response to her failing marriage. The movie is Christian-evangelistic, but there’s not even one vision in it, there are no angels, and no demons.

  4. Jtclaw says:

    And if it had been playing in the same number of theaters as the Visit, the margin would have been even higher

  5. Renee says:

    How do they know what our race is when we go to the movies when I brought my ticket I didn’t hit a button for my race. Just wondering where they get the numbers from?

    • JK says:

      Really? what a dumb comment, it’s call statistics and marketing demographic studies, there are people counting in a sample of theatres to get that information, you don’t get to see them becuase that’s part of their work. This works for movies and all kinds of products

      • LTurley says:

        Not really a dumb question. It’s one thing if a random sample of theaters are given surveys to hand out to movie goers so they could self-identify themselves. Its another thing to have someone “counting” people at the door. You can’t be sure if a person is African American or Hispanic or White by looks alone. You also can’t tell is someone is under 21 all the time. I’m guessing questionnaires were handed out to certain movie goers in order to get this data, something the original commenter has probably never been asked to do, hence her question. No need to be rude, maybe chill out a bit?

      • Relax, maybe not everyone is as aware as you. You could have simply answered her question without being a douche.

    • Lisa says:

      It’s just the stupid media continuing to prop up the underlying message that it’s a “them” (ie black or “urban” market) against “us” (the non minorities in the room) when the reality should start to sink in that movies are for everyone regardless of the color of skin of the people on the marquee. Variety writers and others in the entertainment industry won’t allow the idea that a day will come when no one cares about the race of the stars of a film.

      • JK says:

        The Stupid media?, maybe your stupid comment, marketing demographic studies are used in all kinds of products and services. Hopefully one day will come when no once cares about race, as you said, but that day is far from here, because the represantations of the minorities in the film (as in this article), doesn´t representes the real demographics in America. So instead of fighting the media, fight the movie studios to have a better representation of the society and then we’ll forget about the statistics because race in film won’t be an issue anymore.

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