Fulfilling audiences’ seasonal desires to get good and scared by how teenagers talk these days, Boo! A Madea Halloween blustered its way to the top of the box office this weekend, where it slapped its competitors around like a 17-year-old caught with beer. Tyler Perry’s seventh Madea-branded film—and the character’s ninth movie overall—took in $27.6 million across 2,260 theaters, reversing a slight downward trajectory for the franchise that saw A Madea Christmas debut at just $16 million back in 2013. The comparatively scarce competition of Halloween-themed fare no doubt helped, as did the three years off, an absence that only made the heart grow fonder of Tyler Perry berating people in a dress. Analysts are also crediting a viral skit where Madea talked to Jimmy Fallon’s Trump, as well as the casting of various back-sassing kids with heavy social media followings—all of which definitely Snapchatted up some Vines to a 75 Klout score or whatever. But really, such is the typical scramble to explain why the Madea series, regularly dismissed by critics, is always a hit with crowds, who regard reviewers as smart-assed know-it-alls who could also use a good smack.
While Madea will endure until Tyler Perry has her teaching a bunch of horny brats the real meaning of Arbor Day, the title of Jack Reacher’s latest outing may end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy. A second-place opening for Never Go Back at $23 million is certainly more than the $15.2 million the original debuted with, but the lower ratings from both critics and CinemaScore suggests the excitement has somewhat dimmed to see Tom Cruise’s action hero (you know, the one with the jacket) a second time, even with his own disrespectful teenager thrown into the mix. Of course, that didn’t matter at the global box office, where a Tom Cruise movie could literally be called Gun Man Run Fast and it would take all comers. Never Go Back grabbed another $31 million from overseas markets, which could be enough to set up Jack Reacher: Actually, When Adjusted For International Territories There Are Economic Incentives To Justify Going Back.
Among the two other wide releases this weekend, Ouija: Origin Of Evil managed to narrowly edge out last week’s winner, the Ben Affleck-fronted The Accountant, for third place by taking in just over $14 million. It doesn’t take a glowering, Crossfit-trained mathematician to determine that a horror sequel released perfunctorily around Halloween will perform well—and the glowing reviews suggesting it wasn’t insultingly bad probably didn’t hurt. The same can’t be said for the broadly panned Keeping Up With The Joneses, whose seventh-place opening at $5.6 million is the worst for a Zach Galifianakis comedy since last month, when Masterminds debuted with just about $1 million more.
Finally, it was a busy weekend for independent releases, with the power of Christ compelling the Columbine sort-of-biopic I’m Not Ashamed to a $900,000 opening, thus proving Darwin’s theory of natural selection when it comes to faith-based audiences choosing their movies. Those who have a similar deeply held conviction in festival buzz gave Moonlight the highest per-screen average of the year, with $413,174 on just four screens. Meanwhile, the true believers in Philip Roth who have waited patiently for the Coming of Ewan McGregor to bring his American Pastoral to the promised land proved to be a rather small congregation, giving the film just $151,000 across 50 screens.
Elsewhere, Park Chan-Wook’s The Handmaiden rode its five screens like a wooden sex doll to an orgasmic $91,600 finish, and Michael Moore’s self-distributed Michael Moore In TrumpLand earned $50,200 from two theaters full of people anxious to see misbehaving child Donald Trump receive a stern talking-to from liberalism’s own no-nonsense grandma.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.