The Lionsgate comedy stars Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") as a hard-drinking nightclub singer forced to care for her delinquent niece and nephews. Besides directing and writing the film, based on his stage play of the same name, Perry co-stars as his brash, cross-dressing alter ego, Madea.
It's Perry's second film this year to open at No. 1. In February, "Tyler Perry's Madea Goes to Jail" debuted at the top spot with $41 million, which stands as the biggest opening of his eight films.
"Tyler Perry has a special way of speaking to his audience, and it's unbelievable," David Spitz, Lionsgate's executive vice president and general sales manager, said Sunday. "He always knows what his audience wants, and I never underestimate him."
Spitz said the presence of the popular Madea character, plus a cast that included Henson, Mary J. Blige, Gladys Knight and Pastor Marvin Winans, helped put the movie on top. It also had the best critical reception of all of Perry's films, with 58 percent positive reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes Web site.
Perry, who's known for his productivity, has the sequel "Why Did I Get Married Too" coming out next spring. And in a rare adaptation of someone else's work, he's preparing to go into production on a film version of the Ntozake Shange stage play "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf."
Hollywood.com box-office analyst Paul Dergarabedian joked that his latest movie should have been called, "Tyler Perry's I Can Do No Wrong at the Box Office."
"Eight theatrical films, five No. 1 debuts -- Lionsgate has a perpetually successful franchise in Tyler Perry," Dergarabedian said. "He is the brand. He's a very rare example of a director-writer-actor who is completely synonymous with his work and with the success of his movies."
Coming in second was the dark, animated "9" from Focus Features, which made $10.9 million this weekend, according to Sunday estimates. Since its Wednesday opening -- on 9-9-09 -- the movie has made about $15.3 million. The voice cast includes Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Christopher Plummer and Jennifer Connelly as hand-stitched dolls who represent the last vestige of humanity after a war between man and machine.
In what is traditionally a slow time at the box office between the summer blockbusters and the fall prestige films, two other new releases had so-so openings. The Summit Entertainment horror flick "Sorority Row" came in at No. 6 with about $5.3 million, while the Kate Beckinsale thriller "Whiteout" from Warner Bros. followed in seventh place with $5.1 million.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Hollywood.com. Final figures will be released Tuesday.
1. "Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself," $24.03 million.
2. "9," $10.9 million.
3. "Inglourious Basterds," $6.5 million.
4. "All About Steve," $5.8 million.
5. "The Final Destination," $5.5 million.
6. "Sorority Row," $5.3 million.
7. "Whiteout," $5.1 million.
8. "District 9," $3.6 million.
9. "Julie & Julia," $3.3 million.
10. "Gamer," $3.15 million.