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Diary beats Oscar films!

Arthur J Pais | March 01, 2005 15:22 IST

Even as the success of Diary Of A Mad Black Woman -- which opened at the top spot over the weekend with a $22.7 million gross -- was being celebrated, the big question in Hollywood was how the newly anointed Oscar winners would be able to reap the benefits.

Even before the awards were announced and Million Dollar Baby went on to bag the best picture, director (Clint Eastwood [Images]), actress (Hilary Swank [Images]) and supporting actor (Morgan Freeman [Images]) Oscars, its gross over the weekend had gone up by about 6 percent. And the movie that Warner had committed to reluctantly, despite Eastwood's track record, had grossed about $64.7 million in 11 weeks. Warner had thought the film's subject was too serious.

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The movie was at sixth spot on the chart, and showing in 2,100 US theatres. Warner changed the film's schedule by releasing it in December, instead of March 2005, and is now reaping huge benefits.

On Friday, the movie could add a few dozen new theatres, and guide the film to reach at least $90 million eventually.

Abroad, the movie has been around in over a dozen countries for about two or three weeks, grossing about $30 million. The Oscars should propel it to a higher profile.

Million Dollar BabyAnother Oscar hopeful, thanks to its 11 nominations, The Aviator had dipped by a modest 6 percent from last week. At ninth position, the film grossed $3.9 million, with its total reaching $93 million. The film received five Oscars, but director Martin Scorsese [Images] -- who has never won an Oscar despite being in the business for over three decades -- went home without due recognition. Earlier, there were intense speculations that Eastwood would win the direction nod, and The Aviator would fly away with the best picture award.

Despite the Oscar snub, the movie will reach $100 million. With a few major Oscars, the $110-$120 million The Aviator would have minted a few millions beyond that barrier.

The witty and urbane Sideways, which took the best adapted screenplay Oscar, was at number 11 on the chart. Though the low-budget film did not get major awards, it is still on track to reach $70 million in North America alone. It has not only recovered its $15 million budget, but has already become profitable in North America.

The rousing screen-bio Ray, celebrating the infectious music of Ray Charles, got the best actor nod for Jamie Foxx [Images]. Theatrically, the film -- still on some 50 screens -- may not be able to gain much from the award. But the $35 million movie, whose DVD and video revenues have exceeded $120 million in less than two weeks, will benefit from the Oscar win.

Meanwhile, Diary Of A Mad Black Woman is expected to be the sleeper hit of the season, adding more theatres each week thanks to word of mouth. The low-budget romantic comedy became an immediate hit, grossing $22.7 million and riding to the top, pushing the formidable Hitch ($21 million) to second position.

Diary Of A Mad Black WomanDiary, in which writer and actor Tyler Perry plays three roles -- including a pistol-whipping grandmother -- was in 1,480 movie theatres, while Constantine, which fell by about 60 percent from its previous week, was in over 3,000 theatres.

Though major critics found Diary an overdone comedy, a few publications admitted it had good performances and was a feel-good movie. Audiences across America apparently agreed with the second group of critics.

Diary is based on Perry's successful play about an affluent woman who seeks vengeance after being dumped by her husband of 18 years. Among the film's scene stealers are Kimberly Elise, who plays the wronged woman, and Perry.

Other newcomers, including the horror film Cursed, did not see much light at the box-office. Cursed, directed by Wes Craven who has a huge fan base among horror film fans, was not a total bomb. The $30 film opened at fourth spot with $9.6 million and could make a small profit if it does not drop by a big margin in the coming weeks, and does a good job abroad.

Box office estimates for North America, February 25-27

RankFilmWeekend gross Total grossNumber of weeks
1Diary Of A Mad Black Woman$22.7 million$22.7mNew

$21 million (down 31%) 

3Constantine$11.8 million (down 60%)$50.7m2
4Cursed$9.6 million$9.6mNew
5Man Of The House$9 million$9mNew
6Million Dollar Baby$7.2 million (up 6%)$64.7m11 
7Because Of Winn-Dixie$6.8 million (down 34%)$22m
8Are We There Yet?$4.1 million (down 36%)$76.4m
9The Aviator$3.9 million (down 6%)$93.7m11
10Son Of The Mask$3.7 million (down 50%)$14m

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