LOS ANGELES • For the fifth consecutive weekend, a movie with a predominantly black cast topped the North American box office.
And the horror film The Visit overperformed, ending a prolonged cold streak for M. Night Shyamalan.
The Perfect Guy, a Fatal Attraction-style thriller starring Sanaa Lathan, took in an estimated US$26.7 million (S$37.6 million), or about 50 per cent more than analysts had predicted based on pre-release surveys that track audience interest.
Screen Gems, a division of Sony Pictures, spent US$12 million to make the movie, which received poor reviews.
In The Perfect Guy, Lathan plays a successful lobbyist who rebounds from a break-up with a Mr Wrong (Michael Ealy), who turns out to have a dangerous side.
Screen Gems 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 US$24.2 million.
Universal's rap biopic Straight Outta Compton and Sony/TriStar's Christian drama War Room have recently led the multiplex race.
The Visit, Shyamalan's return to the shock and chills genre that he made famous with The Sixth Sense (1999), was close behind with a sterling US$25.7 million. Written, directed and produced by Shyamalan, it also did better than analysts had expected.
It arrives courtesy of Blumhouse, the micro-budget creator of Sinister (2012) and Paranormal Activity (2007), and cost just US$5 million to produce. Universal distributed the film.
Receiving solid reviews, it was intended to be a back-to-basics project by Shyamalan, who has suffered a string of misfires as a movie director, among them After Earth (2013) and The Last Airbender (2010).
Female ticket buyers powered the weekend results. Rentrak's PostTrak service said the audience for The Perfect Guy was 70 per cent female and crowds for The Visit were 56 per cent female.
REUTERS, NEW YORK TIMES