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As Tyler Perry Plays Action Hero In 'Alex Cross,' How Might The Box Office (His Core Fans) React?

by Tambay A. Obenson
October 12, 2012 1:04 PM
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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?

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  • FactChecker | October 16, 2012 7:08 PMReply

    I like the premise of the movie and LOVE Matthew Fox, who looks awesome and has a solid history of picking hit roles. But after seeing the trailer, unless I'm able to scrabble up some free tickets, I'm not paying to see TP. I didn't find him believable. And someone as fine as Carmen Ejogo certainly wouldn't be married to him in real life, so that cancels out the romantic escapism aspect for women who love to see Denzel take charge in thrillers. ... I read elsewhere, on the web, where someone said they thought, TP was actually trying to "act" like Denzel. ... Which wouldn't surprise me in the least. TP isn't leading man, tough guy material. I view him as more of a "performer" (as in Madea would be just as effective working under a big white tent) or as a "Character" (as in Willard Scott playing Ronald McDonald) than as a a trained actor. ... I'm not buying him as a manly man. And I don't believe the audience will either. ... Can't wait until next Monday to see what the box office results are.

  • beemooree | October 14, 2012 12:58 AMReply

    i had no interest in seeing this however when i saw the trailer, it caught my attention. not to mention that Carmen Ejogo, "sister from Sparkle" is in this

  • Adam Scott Thompson | October 13, 2012 1:49 PMReply

    I'm forcing my mother, a hardcore James Patterson fan (or maybe not so much anymore), to accompany me to see this film -- for irony's sake. She was like, "Why would I pay money to see this dreck?" My response: "That's the joke!" We also have free Cinemark tickets to any movie we choose which means I'll only have to take two guilt showers after leaving the theater.

  • wordblaze | October 12, 2012 4:59 PMReply

    I just saw the trailer (right before the screening of Middle of Nowhere...GO SEE IT PLEASE!!!)

    Now (as someone who usually has a lot of criticism for Mr. TP's films) here's my honest reaction to it: I didn't want to vomit. For someone who is not trained, or considered professional....He wasn't bad. At all. Just being honest. I didn't think: NOW THAT THERE IS A PERFORMANCE! But I believed him as Alex Cross (in the trailer, at least).

    And my summation for this freak of nature response of mine? He was directed by a good director. To my knowledge, he's never been directed by anyone else before. A good director can bring out the best in an actor...or in this case a person with talent. Yes I said it. I never thought he didn't have talent. Does he have skill? Um...not in my book....So, no. I haven't all of sudden changed my mind about his films! I just say, that as Alex Cross, I believed him. Am I going to see said movie? Eh, not likely...BUT I have a feeling that his audience will turn out and with fans of the Alex Cross novels and then Ed Burns and Matthew Fox (who scared the hell outta me as the serial killer) rounding out the cast, this film will do well.

    I think, especially after seeing Luther, that Elba has stronger chops, no question...but I kinda (dare I say) can't see him in this role. And isn't there a Luther feature length film on the horizon? Let TP have this one. Elba will surely kill Luther on the big screen....and then flip it in the next role. And just to add...I did not take any illegal substances while watching. This is my honest to goodness truth. There. phew.

    (does the cross over herself...and leaves the confessional....NOT before looking around for witnesses)

  • Donella | October 13, 2012 6:32 PM

    Tyler Perry's not classically trained, but he has two decades of performance on the stage. That counts for a lot in a Hollyweird that casts rappers with two years of music videos. Also Why Did I Get Married defies the Madea average at $55,184,721. That's not chump change considering how little $ it takes to get his films produced and distributed.

  • Daedalus | October 12, 2012 3:37 PMReply

    I just love coming to this "supposedly" pro-black hollywood site and catching up on all of the negativity! We complain that there isn't enough diversity in film and TV, but any time a black actor or actress takes on ANY role, there's a blacklash! We just can't be supportive of each other and wonder why hollywood can't! The irony isn't lost on me! Go Tyler Perry!

  • Orville | October 19, 2012 3:30 AM

    Tyler Perry is taking a risk and a chance and I commend him for doing so. So glad Tyler is trying something different and I hope he CONTINUES to do so!

    I think this takes a lot of courage and guts on Tyler's part he knows the film critics and film snobs are going to criticize him but I commend this black man because he doesn't let what other people say influence him or hurt him.

    Well this website is a film website so I imagine some of the black posters here are in the film industry or want to be in the film industry. So the jealousy against Tyler Perry is obvious because here is a black man he never went to film school he never went to acting school yet he's a force in Hollywood. Tyler Perry had a dream and he made it come true.

  • Dee | October 15, 2012 12:53 PM

    I could not agree with you more. I read negative comments about TP then any other person. I am not sure why people hate this man so much. Is it his rags to riches story. Or is just HATE!!! I am going to see the movie because, I like action thrillers. He is not the best actor in the world, and so are a lot of other actors/actresses, but if this movie turns out to be bad...we all know TP will be the blame.

  • Nadia | October 12, 2012 3:53 PM

    Please STFU. Your argument is just dumb. Maybe you've missed the countless other posts which cheer on many filmmakers, actors, and actresses, and all the comments in response to those posts. So this nonsense about "any time a black actor or actress takes on ANY role, there's blacklash" argument is shit. Go buy your ticket to see "Middle Of Nowhere" and be quiet.

  • Orville | October 12, 2012 3:22 PMReply

    Okay Monique, you are not a Tyler fan but I give Tyler credit for taking a risk and actually taking on a serious acting role. I also want to point out the studio wanted Tyler over Idris Elba. I know a lot of people on Shadow & Act love Elba but he is not a leading man and he has NEVER had a box office hit based on his own name. By contrast, Tyler Perry has multiple successful films but this is the biggest risk of his career. Tyler is being asked to carry an action film and he is going to have to deliver. The budget for his movie is $45 million dollars so, it really needs a good debut next weekend. I am going to see this movie I am going to give Tyler a chance I think he deserves it. At least Tyler is trying something different and moving beyond his comfort zone.

  • Mel | October 22, 2012 3:21 AM

    I disagree, I think Elba is very much a leading man. He may never get the right big budget, action star vehicle or treatment from a studio, but he has the charisma and the chops to carry him through.
    He's an actor that can still play compelling roles on tv (i.e. Luther) or even in Indie films (legacy). TP can bring a guaranteed $12 million on opening wkend, but Ive never seen him give a convincing performance, so I don't really support his stuff. BTW, a film like Takers did about the same business as Perry's "Why did get married" movies, with a bit more success abroad. I'm not counting the "Madea" movies, because I just wouldn't count those in 'leading man category'.

    As far as the Alex Cross movie is concerned, I don't think TP is a leading man at all. He can't carry something like that because he doesn't have the screen presence for it. However, the movie itself seems a mess, so I doubt Elba would have redeemed it. BTW-I will NEVER support someone just because they are Black. If I don't like their work, being Black won't change that.

  • D.C. Kirkwood | October 12, 2012 7:20 PM

    Co-Sign. Because Tyler has already made a name for himself and is rich hopefully he can produce or have the same studio open up more action, sci fi,or thriller starring African Americans. It's already a good sign that they let a black woman play his wife. Hello!! I love Idris too,but Takers and the Losers both did poorly at the box office so Tyler can't do any worse than Idris films have. Idris is not a leading man that can carry a film successfully by himself.

  • Monique A. Williams | October 12, 2012 1:37 PMReply

    This fool couldn't pay me to see this movie. And I've seen him do Non-Madea acting, he is just terrible. He is the worst actor in the scene. How was he convinced that this was a good idea? He is surrounded by the wrong people!

  • Wanda | October 19, 2012 11:40 AM

    Lol in your face monique your hater skills shows you are jealous

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