After the success of the latest Madea film, it’s time to really take the franchise global.
Like any good businessman, Tyler Perry is not just interested in American dollars. He’s also very keen on collecting euros, which he plans on earning with the help of British comedian Brendan O’Carroll.
This past weekend, Perry proved that the states, at least, seem to have an insatiable appetite for Madea—the boisterous character he’s popularly played across dozens of films, TV shows, and theater productions. The latest installment, Boo! A Madea Halloween, was No. 1 at the box office ($27.6 million) last weekend, handily out-earning Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher sequel ($23 million)—even though the Cruise film opened on over 1,500 more screens. However, Perry thinks the film could have earned even more money if it had been released in more theaters—particularly in white neighborhoods.
“I still have issues getting screens in white neighborhoods, believe it or not,” Perry tells The Wrap. “I think the numbers could have been bigger had people who are in the white suburbs had the option to go to their own theaters to see it. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for many many years.”
Perry also notes that Boo! out-earned Jack Reacher despite being in far fewer theaters. The Wrap reports that the Madea film opened in 2,260 theaters, vs.Reacher’s 3,780. When reached for comment, Lionsgate said they “stand by their decision to launch the film in less than 3,000 theaters,” adding that this figure is on par with past Perry releases, as well as “other movies in similar genres,” according to The Wrap.
This will not do for Perry. There is money out there, and he intends to make it. Proving his broadening appeal (well, to everyone except movie critics), Boo! boasts Perry’s most diverse audience yet: 80 to 90 percent of viewers for his films are typically black. But this time around, that figure dropped down to 60 percent, with the rest of the crowd comprised largely of white and Hispanic viewers, according to Variety.
Clearly, Madea’s audience is growing—and so now must her worldview. Back in August, it was reported that Perry was joining forces with British comedian Brendan O’Carroll, who famously cross-dresses as the Irish widow character Agnes Brown on the sitcom Mrs. Brown’s Boys.
“I’m working very closely with him,” Perry says. “I’m putting a movie together for the two of us—Mrs. Brown and Medea.”
Whatever movie comes of that collaboration will sharply raise Perry’s profile overseas, helping him connect to a larger audience. The success could also work to slowly help dispel the harmful industry belief that films starring anyone but white actors won’t perform well overseas, despite repeated successes and disproved tracking numbers. The belief is also frequently used as an excuse to exclude actors of color from leading roles, even if they’re as famous and talented as Denzel Washington—which is really just a loss for everyone who loves movies, isn’t it?
SOURCE: YOHANA DESTA