It’s one of the biggest Hollywood upsets of the weekend, but it didn’t happen at the Oscars. The comedy Diary of a Mad Black Woman shocked all observers by premiering at the top of the box office chart with $22.7 million, according to studio estimates.
Diary, starring Tyler Perry and Kimberly Elise, only played in about 1,500 theaters. And it didn’t even place in the top five movies in the AOL Moviefone audience poll, perhaps the most accurate predictor of the box office rankings. But thanks to its ads, which showcased Perry’s drag-heavy performance (reminiscent of Martin Lawrence in Big Momma’s House or Eddie Murphy in The Nutty Professor), audiences flocked to theaters hoping for an equally funny experience. As a result, Diary boasted a per-theater average of more than $15,000, almost three times as much as any other movie in the top 20.
Meanwhile, Will Smith’s romance Hitch saw another small drop of 33 percent to $21 million, bringing its three-week total to $122 million, while Keanu Reeves’ thriller Constantine plummeted 60 percent to $11.8 million in its second weekend.
The two other new wide releases only managed single-digit debuts. Wes Craven’s horror flick Cursed opened with $9.6 million, while the Tommy Lee Jones-Cedric the Entertainer comedy Man of the House placed fifth with $9 million. Though Man of the House played in hundreds more theaters, it looks like comedy fans drove a bit further to find a multiplex playing Diary of A Mad Black Woman instead.