“The Perfect Guy” appears to be the perfect antidote for a laggardly U.S. box office, with Sony’s thriller heading for as much as a $25 million opening weekend, according to early Friday estimates.
M. Night Shyamalan’s horror project “The Visit” also appears to be coming in well over the recent forecast with a launch in the $20 million range. Both new titles had been pegged earlier in the week to open in the $15 million to $17 million range.
“The Perfect Guy,” playing at 2,220 sites, was heading for an opening day in the $10.5 million range and “The Visit,” showing at 3,069 locations, was tabbed to come in with about $8.8 million on its first day including $1 million from Thursday night previews.
Less bullish early estimates pegged “The Perfect Guy” at winding up closer to $20 million.
“The Perfect Guy,” which cost a modest $12 million to produce, centers on Sanaa Lathan’s character falling for a seemingly wonderful man — played by Michael Ealy — who turns out to be a nightmare. Screen Gems is releasing the movie and looks likely to duplicate its success from last year’s “No Good Deed,” starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson, which debuted impressively with $24.3 million.
“The Perfect Guy” appears to be the third straight success story for films aimed at African-American audiences, following “War Room” and “Straight Outta Compton.”
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Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Rentrak, told Variety that “The Perfect Guy” and “The Visit” have been well-timed, given the absence of more high-profile titles following a sleepy Labor Day weekend box office. The Sept. 18-20 weekend will see launches of Fox’s “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” Universal’s “Everest” and Warner Bros.’ “Black Mass,” starring Johnny Depp.
“This weekend is the calm before the storm, a sort of no man’s land, so there’s a great opportunity to take advantage of that with films that have some real appeal,” he added.
Sony opted to forego Thursday night previews for “The Perfect Guy.”
“The Visit” centers on a pair of children making a week-long visit to the isolated home of their grandparents whom they’ve never met. Early reviews have been mostly positive with a 65% “fresh” score on Rotten Tomatoes.
“The Visit,” which has a modest $5 million price tag, marks a return to the familiar scare fare territory for Shyamalan, best known for “The Sixth Sense,” “Signs” and “Unbreakable.” The pic carries a PG-13 rating, which should help the film bring in teenagers, who will likely make up a large chunk of the opening weekend audience.
“The Visit” stars Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan, Peter McRobbie and Kathryn Hahn. Producers are Marc Bienstock, horror specialist Jason Blum and Shyamalan through his Blinding Edge Pictures.
Shyamalan wrote, directed, produced and financed “The Visit” on his own, shooting in his native Pennsylvania and teaming with Blum after the latter saw an early cut. Blum has a long-term distribution deal of micro-budget titles with Universal, including “The Purge,” “Ouija” and “Insidious” franchises.
Universal’s “Ouija” took in $911,000 in Thursday-night previews last October and wound up the weekend with $19.8 million on its way to a respectable $50 million domestic total.
Christian drama “90 Minutes in Heaven,” starring Hayden Christensen and Kate Bosworth, is also launching this weekend through Samuel Goldwyn Films at more than 800 sites. The film, based on Don Piper’s 2004 biography about spending 90 minutes in heaven following a 1989 car crash, has been tracking to open with less than $5 million.
“War Room,” which dethroned “Straight Outta Compton” to win the Labor Day weekend, is likely to finish third in the $6 million to $8 million range. The faith-based drama has topped $31 million in less than two weeks.
Year-to-date domestic box office hit $7.74 billion on Sept. 7, up $5.59% from the same point a year ago, according to Rentrak. The figure is 0.63% behind the record-setting year of 2013.