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'Madea Goes to Jail' wins big at the box office

  • Story Highlights
  • "Madea Goes to Jail" won big this weekend, grossing a hefty $41.1 million
  • Per-theater average of $20,236 ranks in the top 40 for all wide openers ever
  • Second place went to "Taken," which added another $11.4 million to its tally
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By Joshua Rich
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Entertainment Weekly

(Entertainment Weekly) -- If anybody had a reason to doubt whether Tyler Perry has become one of the most bankable brands in all of movies, be skeptical no longer.

'Madea Goes to Jail' wins big at the box office

The domestic dramedy maestro's latest release, Tyler Perry's "Madea Goes to Jail," ran away with a big victory on the typically slow Academy Awards weekend, grossing a hefty $41.1 million, according to early estimates from Media by Numbers.

That opening sum is the biggest of all time for a Tyler Perry film, besting the $30 million debut of 2006's "Madea's Family Reunion." Too, it's the top bow in the history of indie studio Lionsgate, improving upon all the Tyler Perry and "Saw" flicks that came before it. The movie's per-theater average of $20,236 ranks in the top 40 for all wide openers ever.

And, no surprise, "Madea Goes to Jail" achieved all this success with a solid A CinemaScore grade from a crowd that included mostly older women. Video Watch Tyler Perry talk about his success »

Second place went to "Taken," which added another $11.4 million to its four-week tally, bringing said total to $95.2 million. Fellow strong holdover "Coraline" (No. 3) was next with $11 million.

"He's Just Not That Into You" (No. 4) declined a sharp 56 percent to bank $8.5 million on its third weekend. And Best Picture favorite "Slumdog Millionaire" rounded out the top five with $8.1 million -- a sum that brings its domestic total to $98 million.

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Reigning champ "Friday the 13th" suffered one of the biggest drops ever, a stunning 81 percent, to finish in sixth place with $7.8 million. And this weekend's other major new release, the cheerleader comedy "Fired Up!" (No. 9), grossed a weak-but-expected $6 million. The film garnered an okay CinemaScore grade of B from a crowd comprised of mostly younger ladies.

Overall, the weekend was up nearly 30 percent over the same frame a year ago, when "Vantage Point" led the way. Eight of the past nine weekends have improved upon the previous year's grosses.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't take a quick peek at the main Oscar contenders, for whom the box office report is mixed headed into the ceremony.

"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" leads the way with $124.2 million. The aforementioned "Slumdog Millionaire" should clear the $100 million mark in the next several days, whether it wins the top prize or not. Then it's a big jump down to "Milk" ($28.2 million), "The Reader" ($23.2 million), and "Frost/Nixon" ($17.4 million).

And let's not forget multiple nominee "The Dark Knight," which may not be up for Best Picture, but did finally become the fourth movie ever to cross the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office.

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