It was a battle of the sequels at the multiplexes this weekend, as “Boo! A Madea Halloween” narrowly edged out “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” to claim first place at the domestic box office.
The latest film in the long-running Madea series racked up $27.6 million. Comedian Chris Rock may be entitled to a percentage of the gross. Creator Tyler Perry was inspired to take his pistol-packing grandma trick-or-treating after Rock’s comedian character in 2014’s “Top Five” joked that his latest movie, a passion project about a slave revolt, was going head-to-head at the box office with “Boo! A Madea Halloween.” What was once intended as satire eventually became a seasonally appropriate reality.
“This isn’t the end of the series, it’s just the beginning,” said Jeff Bock, box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations, who noted that Perry also scored with 2013’s “A Madea Christmas.” “There are so many holidays left. There’s Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and he hasn’t even done a Thanksgiving one yet.”
Don’t look for “Boo!” to end up in the Oscar race or on many reviewers’ “ten best” lists, but the Halloween comedy is a hit for distributor Lionsgate and reaffirms Perry’s star power. Despite being routinely derided by critics, the film series has an extremely loyal fan base. Collectively they’ve earned nearly $380 million. The latest Madea cost $20 million to make, and attracted a more diverse crowd. Typically the films have an audience that’s between 80% and 90% African-American, but this installment’s crowd was only 60% African-American, with the rest of ticket buyers made up largely of Caucasians and Hispanic movie-goers.
“The film crossed over and it expanded the audience,” said David Spitz, co-president of domestic distribution at Lionsgate. “Madea is such a beloved character and the timing helped. There are not many comedies in the marketplace right now and Halloween is right around the corner.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, “Saturday Night Live” cast member Leslie Jones is in final negotiations to sign on for the all-female version of the classic 1980s film “Ghostbusters.”
Joining Jones for the reboot will be her fellow SNL’ers Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon, in addition to “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat” star Melissa McCarthy. Although negotiations are still ongoing, the film’s director Paul Feig (“Bridesmaids”) tweeted a picture of the ladies, which suggests they’re in it for the long run.
Jones’ involvement in the “Ghostbusters” reboot could mark a major milestone for the funny lady, who has been making people laugh for more than 30 years. Jones’ achievements, as noted by Vulture.com, include opening for Jamie Foxx and Katt Williams as well as starring in her own Showtime stand-up comedy special in 2011. Last January, Jones joined the cast of SNL, becoming one of two Black female cast members currently on the show’s roster. Jones also recently appeared in Chris Rock’s film “Top Five.”
As GBN reported last month, Chris Rock’s new film Top Five sparked a bidding frenzy at the Toronto International Film Festival, with Paramount Pictures emerging as the winner for distribution rights to the tune of $12.5 million. Last week, the studio dropped the first trailer. Written, directed by, and starring Rock, Top Five tells the story of New York City comedian-turned-film star Andre Allen, whose unexpected encounter with a journalist (Rosario Dawson) forces him to confront the comedy career—and the past—that he’s left behind.
Kevin Hart, Tracy Morgan, Cedric The Entertainer, J.B. Smoove, Sherri Shepherd, Anders Holm, Romany Malco, Leslie Jones, Michael Che, and Jay Pharoah also star.
The movie is set for a limited release on December 5, going wide a week later on December 12.
Chris Rock is returning to Saturday Night Live. The comedian and former SNL cast member will be back at Studio 8H to host the Nov. 1 episode, the show announced Tuesday. Rock was part of the main ensemble for three seasons, from 1990-93.
Joining him as the musical guest will be Prince, who released two albums, Plectrumelectrum and Art Official Age, earlier this month.
Rock marks the latest ex-SNL cast member to take hosting duties during the show’s 40th season. Sarah Silverman, who was a main player from 1993-94, and Bill Hader, who left in 2013, have both led episodes. Rock next stars in Top Five, a Toronto title that hits theaters Dec. 5.
Jim Carrey, promoting Dumb and Dumber To, has been set as host for the Oct. 25 episode with musical guest Iggy Azalea.
Paramount is about to finalize what will likely be the biggest deal of this year’s Toronto Film Festival: a whopping $12.5 million for the Chris Rock comedy “Top Five.” The studio, which is acquiring worldwide rights to the movie, has also agreed to spend $20 million on marketing.
The Scott Rudin-produced film, which Rock stars in and directs about a day in the life of a comedian movie star, premiered in Toronto on Saturday night and sparked a fierce bidding war among several studios.
The film’s budget was north of $10 million. Buyers interested in the film included CBS Films, Sony, Open Road and Relativity.
Part of the concern for potential buyers is that with a substantial promotional commitment and Rock’s limited international following, the film would be almost wholly dependent on its domestic box office in order to make a profit. However, the film was enthusiastically received by audiences at Toronto and knowledgeable insiders say it has real commercial potential.
Paramount makes sense because the studio’s chief, Brad Grey, has a longstanding relationship with Rock.
article by Brent Lang and Ramin Setoodeh via Variety.com