You know, now that I think about it, if my mother were still alive today (she died almost exactly 10 years ago after battling cancer for 2 years)… if she were still alive today, I actually think she'd love Tyler Perry movies, despite the fact that I'm certainly not a fan, as I'm sure most of you know very well by now.
As I thought about that fact this morning, I wondered what our conversations would've been like, when the next Madea movie would be opening in theaters. She was an attorney, so debate wasn't something she'd shy away from, especially if she felt she had a case worth arguing.
Although I'm not sure if Madea would be one she'd have taken seriously enough to want to argue with me over; she'd likely have just appreciated it for its silliness, and maybe she'd have seen her own feisty mother (my grandmother) in the character.
But I digress…
Reading Tyler Perry's recent message to his fans just made me think of all that, and so I shared.
In his message, he tells his fans a story of a reporter questioning him on the likelihood of his core base going to see him, sans fat suit, wig and glasses, in Alex Cross (which opens a week from today). The note is essentially a challenge to his fans to open up their minds, embrace his will to break out of the Madea comedy box, and support the film, because it's still rated PG13, and they just might like it.
Will they? Well, history isn't exactly on his side here. In short, over the summer, looking at box office for all his movies, I was able to reach this conclusion: Average total box office for Tyler Perry movies WITH Madea – roughly $60 million; Average box office total for Tyler Perry movies WITHOUT Madea – about $40 million.
So, clearly, Madea movies, on average, have done better than non-Madea Tyler Perry movies – about $20 million more in ticket sales, on average.
It may not seem like a huge difference, but for films that aren't exactly expected to be box office blockbusters (on average overall, his films gross around $50 million), a $20 million gap will get your attention, especially if you're a Lionsgate/Summit studio exec. So, as we've said before, don't expect Madea to go away anytime soon.
So, will that trend continue with Alex Cross? I dunno. We'll just have to wait to see.
I should note that I don't think Lionsgate/Summit is expecting the audience for Alex Cross to comprise primarily of Tyler Perry fans; I'd say that they're hoping for some cross-over appeal – especially fans of James Patterson's series of novels, which the film is based on. If they're not repulsed by the idea of Perry playing Cross, as many of you are, or if they're even just a little curious to see this new rendition, they might help bolster ticket sales, and make up for any gaps that go unfilled, if Perry's base doesn't show up.
I'll be watching this closely. I'm very interested to see how this all plays out for Perry. It could be one of those milestone moments we look back on in 10 years, on his career. "The Moment that changed everything…" or something along those lines…
I'm actually seeing the film next week Tuesday night; however, there's an embargo on reviews until the day of the release, so unless I'm told something different, my review (or Sergio's review) won't be posted until Friday – the day the film opens, on October 19th.
Here's the letter he sent out to his fans:
Where Is Your Dress, Tyler?
"You’re not wearing a dress in this movie. Do you think your audience will come and see it? Where is your dress, Tyler?"
I was in a press conference and a reporter asked me this question. You know I had to take a deep breath… LOL. It is so funny how people want you to be in a box. They always want you to do and be one thing. God forbid you try and show them that you can do more than comedy.
I said this to him, "Just because my audience likes one thing, it doesn’t mean that they won't accept me in another. Dress or no dress. I mean, we don’t just like comedies, we like thrillers, dramas, action movies and science fiction as well. Am I right? I went on to explain to this reporter that you all have always stood with me. You not only stand with me but you celebrate me and want to see me do my very best. That’s all you ever ask of me and all I ask of myself. While I am sure that a lot of you will love and support this movie, I also know that thrillers and action is not for everybody. But remember, this movie is still PG-13 and given a chance, I think you will enjoy it so much.
Can you tell how excited I am about Alex Cross? I told James Patterson very early on that if I thought that I couldn’t do it, I would have turned the role down when it was offered to me. I didn’t want to let him down, the Alex Cross fans down, or let you down. Now, with all that said, I JUST WANT YOU TO GO TO THE MOVIES AND SEE IT FOR YOURSELF!!! Alex Cross is a thrill ride from beginning to end. With movies, a lot of times the trailer is better than the movie. Not in this case. Alex Cross delivers on so many levels. You won't be disappointed. I can't wait for you to see it! You be the judge! YOU BE THE JUDGE!!
ALEX CROSS is in theaters October 19th. Are you planning on going?