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Post Lionsgate Deal Exit, Tyler Perry Scores Worst Box Office Performance Ever. Time To Reassess?

Post Lionsgate Deal Exit, Tyler Perry Scores Worst Box Office Performance Ever. Time To Reassess?

The poor opening weekend box office performance of his Single Moms Club continues a trend that I highlighted over a year ago: in short, 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.

Clearly, Madea movies, on average, have done better than non-Madea Tyler Perry movies – about $20 million more in ticket sales. It may not seem like a big difference, but for films that aren’t exactly expected to be box office blockbusters (on average, his films gross around $50+ million), a $20 million gap will get your attention, especially if you’re a Lionsgate studio exec.

Those were the stats a year ago, and while he’s released one movie since then (A Madea Christmas, which was actually one of the poorest performing Madea movies), the numbers still tell the same story. Madea movies do far better than non-Madea movies, so, as we’ve said before, don’t expect Madea to go away anytime soon. Although with the just-par box office performance of his last Madea film, A Madea Christmas, as well as the fact that Perry himself has repeatedly stressed his desire to bury Madea for good, the mighty matriarch just might be prepping to sing her swan song.

But, as I started this post saying, the trend continues with Single Moms Club, which, given its opening weekend, will likely end up grossing in the $20-something million range – unless there’s a sudden surge in interest, which I doubt at this point. Its $8.3 million opening was much less than was anticipated (in the $15 million – $17 million range). Word of mouth doesn’t appear to be particularly strong – making it one of the poorest-performing Tyler Perry movies ever! Daddy’s Little Girls currently holds that record (he didn’t write nor direct Peeples, which did even worse); it grossed just over $31 million total. I’d be surprised it Single Moms Club gets there.

So where does this leave him as a filmmaker? I wouldn’t say it’s time to panic just yet, or completely overhaul his approach to filmmaking (although I certainly wouldn’t challenge him on that either, if he made that decision). He still has the attention of his core base. After several years of peak performance, with more than a few box office hits, even the best of us have our *misses* every now and then. Shit happens, as the saying goes. There’ll be peaks and valleys along the way. How one handles each, is what really matters. Also, Perry is currently enjoying much success in TV land, with the 3 (soon to be 4) series he produces for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. In fact, one could argue that, like he seemingly did with Lionsgate at the box office, Perry has become a key factor in OWN’s recent ratings surge.

But, as I said before, I feel like Mr Perry is at a crossroads at the moment, taking into consideration Lionsgate opting not to renew its once-lucrative agreement with Perry (leaving him without the assured backing of a studio to ensure his films are distributed), back-to-back under-performing films, a potentially declining audience interest in Madea, the fact that Madea has long been his ace (but may not be for much longer, meaning he may have to find some other gimmick that works), the fact that his non-Madea movies have routinely under-performed his Madea movies (meaning, he might not be so keen on producing any more of that brand of Tyler Perry film, and he may have trouble finding distribution for those films, given the above box office trend); Also box office results have proven that he’s not bankable as an action hero, nor a romantic love interest, and his non-Madea films seem to fare better when he’s part of an ensemble; And finally, the one clear upside piece in all this, is that, he is in the middle of an agreement with the OWN network that’s proven to be an even bigger success than I think anyone (even Perry and Oprah) imagined.

So with all that we know, as I’ve summarized, what’s the man to do? If money talks, and that is/was his only motivation (and I don’t think that it is – not entirely), the answer is quite clear: continue making Madea movies primarily (stay away from anything that doesn’t have Madea in it), but make them for even less money because support for them might be waning, which would mean less box office; and, secondly, continue producing TV series for the OWN network.

But if he’s motivated by much more than just money – and I’d argue that he wants to stretch himself as a filmmaker and actor, given previous attempts (albeit unsuccessful) to take on more challenging material as a writer/director (with For Colored Girls), and also as an actor, making the leap to action-hero in Alex Cross – he’ll continue to take some risks (relative to risks he’s taken before), and won’t be deterred by the recent speed bumps. 

I can only imagine how frustrating this could be for him (but also for audiences who have grown tired of Madea, and who want to see Tyler Perry grow as a filmmaker). Clearly he wants to explore other kinds of material and styles of filmmaking, which I think is great; But the problem is, each time he’s done that, audiences just haven’t rewarded him at the box office. And that could be because he just hasn’t really grown as a filmmaker from a technical and artistic standpoint. 
It occurred to me a little bit ago that I don’t think I’ve ever heard him say what filmmakers, past or present, he draws his inspiration from – if any – and I’m really curious to know.

Every filmmaker I’ve ever had a conversation with (myself included) have their 4 or 5 absolute favorite directors; those whose storytelling styles, and visual presentations we adore and even try to mimic; those who have had a direct/indirect influence on the films that we make. And I’d like to know who those filmmakers are for Tyler Perry.

Maybe he’s already talked about that, and I’m just not aware; so if anyone reading this can provide me with a link to an interview, or whatever, in which he names names, please do so in the comments section below.

One reason why this occurred to me is that I wondered if Mr Perry actually takes the time to watch films from the past (especially), even going all the way back to the days of the silent movie; Essentially, I wondered whether he’s done his homework. I wondered how wide a net he casts when he does watch movies, whether in the privacy of his own home, or at the theater, like the rest of us.

I’ll be the first one to argue that a film school education isn’t at all a requirement for anyone wanting to become a director; but if you are going to become one, you need to learn the craft somehow; and just as writers are encouraged to read in order to become better writers, filmmakers are encouraged to watch films (of all kinds), to become better filmmakers.

Autodidacts like Quentin Tarantino don’t come around very often; But the man, who never went to film school (he didn’t even finish high school), immersed himself in cinema in his youth – global cinema, not just Hollywood product and there was clearly a will and desire on his part, which stretched beyond film, and into literature, history, and other related cultural elements.

So, I’m really interested in knowing whether Perry has indeed done the necessary work; Because, really, if he has, there’s little reason why he shouldn’t have developed a more critical, discerning eye, especially when it comes to his own work.

I’d say that For Colored Girls was to be his bid to earn critical respect – his entry into the “high-brow” club. But I’d say he failed, and did so miserably, which brings me back to my original concern.

So what’s the man to do? Is he doomed to play Madea forever, or will we eventually see some shift in perceptions of Perry that allow him to be who he is as an artist, as well as embrace him as someone else that doesn’t immediately engender media ridicule?
At the moment, his IMDB page doesn’t list any upcoming film projects, although I’m sure that won’t be for too long. Or, will he now turn his attention to television almost exclusively, since that’s where he’s seeing the most success?
I’ll continue watching closely. I’m very interested to see how this all plays out for Perry. It could be one of those crossroads/milestone moments that  we look back on in 10 years, on his career. “The year that changed everything for Tyler Perry…” or something along those lines.
Or maybe not.
We’ve never been granted the opportunity to interview Tyler Perry for this blog, which really shouldn’t be a surprise; But, that invitation is always open, if he’d ever want to. There are so many things I’d love to chat with him about…

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Mr Perry continue with a great work you are doing, You are playing a big role in this industry and we will continue to support you


My Perry he is doing a great work without any doubt


Looking at all these comment about Tyler Perry which I think are justified I got to ask everybody up here do you support independent black films and when was the last time you paid to see one. We are putting too much emphasis on Tyler Perry on what he is doing or not doing for black films, he is who he is. It's a lot of independent black directors and black films that we don't support that are better but we keep looking for Tyler Perry and these studio backed black films to do us justice, it's not going to happen in the hollywood studio system and from Tyler Perry, he writes what he knows and this is all he knows, so don't expect him to write a sci-fi movie or start producing other films from black writers and directors that don't fit in his world, from what I see the man has a big ego and doesn't want nobody to come in and take some of his shine away. To be real, his studio is a waste if this is all he going to do with it, I'm not going to big somebody up because they are black if they putting out garbage, that does more harm than good because it says see when black people do get some money and power they do the same thing or worst stuff than hollywood is doing so why should hollywood change if this is all we are paying to see. I'm interested to see how much money Spike Lee new film makes that was financed outside the studio system by the people. This could be big, a legendary black director goes outside the studio system and makes a box office hit. This would be a game changer because Spike Lee is not seen as a a sell out and has challenged hollywood throughout his career. It would encourage other black directors to do the same thing because they would see they would have the support from the audience and force hollywood to change because it would be an indictment with numbers to back it up on their racist policies toward black directors and black films and also show the black audience does want to see different films. In order for this to happen we got to put up or shut up. Red Hook Summer should have did more business than it did, a film Spike Lee financed himself for $600,000. Clarke Peters gave one of the best performance in the last decade and the film touched on a lot of issues in the black community. The film only did over $300,000 at the box office, it should have did at least 5 million, that's not asking a lot when the Madea films do at least 50 million at the box office. Like I said it's time for us to start speaking with our buying power or we going to continue to have these same conversations year in and year out expecting these black celeb sellouts to change things when it's big payday for them to keep things the same.


One of the things I wish Tyler Perry would do, is: promote himself and movies overseas! That way, he is not only relying on a domestic audience to support his films. I also think he could try working with high profile actors like Kevin Hart, Oprah, Will Smith to broaden his audiences. These are just some suggestions.


Shake my head at this garbage. No one will ever tell a white director to reassess because their movie flop. GTOH with this post.


"And I’d like to know who those filmmakers are for Tyler Perry." THANK YOU! I've been saying this for years. The primary reason I don't respect Perry's work is that he's a filmmaker who's completely uninterested in film. I've NEVER seen him mention who his directorial influences are, only actors (Poitier, etc.) who he admires. I question the depth of his interest in growing and improving; if this were true, he'd stop talking about retiring Madea and just do it. His declining to talk to a FILM blog speaks for itself.


There was no mention of the film "A Family that Preys" in your article. How did that film fare in the box office?

Mark W

The man is a buffoon, in every way possible. He has run his course, and if he was a smart buffoon, he would retire quietly on top of his large pile of money. Unfortunately, most buffoons aren't smart, but are instead ego-driven by the hell-bent intent to prove to the world that they are, in fact, NOT buffoons. His buffoonery will only increase, which you may witness by tuning into Or-pah's Network at any given moment.


"Tyler Perry is a businessman not a filmmaker! " ~ Trouble Maker

Your name is surely fitting because that makes absolute no sense whatsoever. First, most filmmakers do not have Tyler's resources, so they can't be like Tyler. You can bet your last dollar that if they could make 2 films a year they certainly would. AND… many of Tyler's products are merely taken from stage plays. Plus, the last time I checked, "filmmakers" *wait for it* … make films for the enjoyment of the public. DUH… a whole lot of somebodies, that is, the vast majority of black folks enjoy the hell outta his films. So stop making trouble that you cannot back-up.


Tyler Perry is a businessman not a filmmaker! Only a businessman like Perry will churn out 2 or 3 movies a year. Whereas a filmmaker will make a movie every 2 or 3 years.


Don't forget his role in the upcoming film "Gone Girl," with David Fincher directing. I think that's proof that he does want to explore new territory.

As for his empire, his success with OWN means that he still has his fans. But maybe they're not so willing anymore to pay for his movies.


I have to say I was surprised by the paltry numbers for "Single Moms," as I thought a lot of single black mothers would go out and support this film. But I guess the price of admission, literally, is too much these days, even for Perry's rank and file.

I do wish he'd man-up, take Tambay's call and answer some REAL tough questions about his work. I mean other than Oprah has anyone with any serious knowledge and understanding of the medium of film EVER interviewed him?

It will be interesting to see if — and when — his lack of creativity and storytelling abilities on the small screen will, also, begin to wear on his audience, and erode as much as they have for his non-Madea projects.

As someone else mentioned it is too bad that he can't see the forest for the trees and isn't interested in helping truly talented black indie filmmakers make something good. …


Look at teh casts of his last two films. You are now seeing more whites in the cast. What Tyler is doing is trying to expand and get another set of folks interested in his product. While it works for the Haves & Have Nots-it's a slow burn with his films. I look at the Single Moms Club-I would have expected to see every ghetto version of black single mothers not a film with a mixed race of single mothers.

Gigi Young

He's spoken about his influences on the DVDs of his early plays when he comes out at the end to say hello and tell the audience why he wrote that particular script. I haven't watched a play since Madea Goes to Jail, so I have no idea what he's said on DVDs after that. I think Tyler Perry's issue is that he no longer has anything to say–Madea and his early plays were from a laugh-at-my-pain, black Christian perspective. Now that he's prosperous and (I hope) overcome his demons, what else does he have to speak on?

And who is he speaking to these days? My family would ride or die for Tyler, but I haven't heard any of them mention going to see a TP film in theaters in about three years. They've all pretty much moved on from the point in our lives where his productions spoke to them, which means Tyler isn't growing because he still thinks his audience is who they were between 2005-2010.


Don't Cry For Argentina!!! I mean, Tambay could have limited this post to the following 40 words:

"After several years of peak performance, with more than a few box office hits, even the best of us have our *misses* every now and then. Shit happens, as the saying goes. There'll be peaks and valleys along the way."

There it is in a nutshell, so why are some folks so quick to write Tyler's eulogy? Come on now, I am more than sure most filmmakers would trade their hands for Tyler Perry's. AND… even though some are quick to poo-poo his return on his investment in his non-Medea films, most would take that "small" lump of money and sing " I am so SATISFIED!"

In short, referring back to the song "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" it's important to note the lead character, Eva Paron (played by Madonna in the 1996 film Evita) exhorts the people of Argentina not to mourn her — "The truth is I never left you". And later she finally says – "The truth is I shall not leave you".

Well, Tyler is not Madonna nor is he dead, so pick-up your lips because he's in a good spot and ain't going nowhere – TOO SOON! Believe that!!!

But wait, it just kills me how some folks have their hands all up in Tyler's pockets, telling that man how he should spend HIS DAMN MONEY. Pleeeeaaaaase, that man is not the black Salvation Army. Come on now, I believe it's time for some folks to stop crying and stop looking at his bundle of money… and then, get behind the following song:

Lately i'm so tired of waiting for you
To say that it's ok, but tell me
Please, would you one time
Let me be myself
So i can shine with my own light
And let me be myself
For a while, if you don't mind
Let me be myself
So i can shine with my own light
Let me kick down the door and get it for myself


Some people are creatives while others merely have ideas. Perry is a guy with ideas. Not necessarily a creative with an everlasting well of intuition and passionate purpose. He found a dodge as a playwright for the black church circuit. That audience is looking to be entertained and affirmed. Not challenged or provoked. Of course when he was able to get a film off the ground and it was a hit with his core audience showing up. He didn't have to adjust or learn a thing because the doubters, deniers, and haters can't stop "God's plan" and his audience from enjoying his product and making him famous on a national level and very rich.


Just gonna sit back and see what he does next. He most certainly needs a "shot of newness"–we've all BEEN bored with his movies.


I wonder if this is a sign that Tyler Perry can't branch out and change or evolve his approach to film making because the dollars he invest won't get returned. He never struck me as the type of filmmaker to take risks and he allowed his audience to pigeonholed him to this one problematic character that has garnered him just as many critics as it has fans. I think he does want to branch out and do different things and continue his craft but will the Madea fans turn out to support is the question.

Dankwa Brooks

"Every filmmaker I’ve ever had a conversation with (myself included) have their 4 or 5 absolute favorite directors; those whose storytelling styles, and visual presentations we adore and even try to mimic; those who have had a direct/indirect influence on the films that we make. And I’d like to know who those filmmakers are for Tyler Perry."

I'd be curious about that my damn self! I'm one of the people who DID study film in college so I HAD to watch a ton of films, but as Tambay stated autodidacts like Quentin Tarantino have immersed themselves in cinema to learn the craft. I’m generally a fan of Tyler Perry’s work, but I too don’t see much progression in his direction beyond that it has gotten better since his first couple of films.

In the media , while promoting this movie, Tyler Perry even said himself that "With this movie, I just thought this was a subject that needed to be addressed. It is the last film I'm going to be doing for a couple of years so I can focus on television. So I wanted to take a break with something that I hoped would be inspiring and encouraging to a lot of people."

I said on Facebook last weekend
"I think like anything else, especially to his core audience black folks, Tyler has just gone "out of style"."


Mr brown


Of course it's time to reassess. People can only tolerate the same thing over and over. I like perry but I tend to like his films without madea such as why did I get married and family that preys. other than that, his other work is coonery such as me brown. He does too much. He needs to focus on more in depth drama IMO


I would love for Tyler Perry to start putting his money behind very talented black directors with amazingly written stories. There's no reason Perry couldn't be a Harvey Weinstein type. Perry is just not good at making movies, but he has a lot of money. He can still make his crappy movies, but at least help produce good movies!


One can only drink Kool-Aid and dine on Twinkies for so long…


I've never been convinced that Perry is or was really all that interested in being a filmmaker. Just an opportunity that came along and he took it. I think his goal has always been to make a ton of money and to show all those people you told him he was nothing growing up that he became something after all. If he had made his money in real estate or the stock market that would have been just as good for him. Where does he go from here I would tell him to stick to TV for now. He'll still make a ton of money and I don't think he'll really miss making films


This is just another example if you don't love or respect the craft of filmmaking sooner or later it's going to catch up with you. This is not going to put him in the poor house but if he doesn't make a serious attempt to improve his craft he will be marginalized. He will be one of those guys that made a tone of money back in the days but none of his new stuff does nowhere near that. I think his best bet is to start partnering up with great filmmakers to produce their films, he might even learn how to be a better filmmaker in the process if he does this or just do most of his stuff on tv, but sooner or later people are going to get tired of that if he doesn't change up.


"I can only imagine how frustrating it is…(for audiences who have grown tired of Madea, and who want to see Tyler Perry grow as a filmmaker).

This right here is my issue. I was a fan since 2002, watching his plays on VHS. His writing, directing, and acting have not gotten better in over 10 years it is VERY frustrating. So much so that I stopped going to see his films years ago because the quality was lacking and his so-called "messages" were redundant. Even his best film lacks sufficient quality. He must step back and educate himself, find a writing coach, or something. I thought maybe Oprah would help raise his quality while they're partners at OWN, nope. The Haves & The Have Nots is just as wonderful as it's title implies. The other two sitcoms…. It's very frustrating to see someone with such massive potential be so stagnant.


Tyler Perry apologists arrive to save in 5, 4, 3, 2…

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