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Lionsgate Reportedly Not Renewing Deal With Tyler Perry (Say What?)

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by Sergio
February 28, 2014 8:55 PM
23 Comments
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According to Deadline (HERE), Lionsgate has decided not to renew their exclusive first look deal with Tyler Perry, a decision which is being called “mutual” between Perry and Lionsgate. And in response, Perry has shut down his Los Angeles production offices and will now “consolidate his operations at his Atlanta-based Tyler Perry Studio.

However, this doesn’t mean the end of Perry's relationship with the studio. He already has several projects in the pipeline, as he always does, such as Single Moms Club, which comes out next month, and, according to Deadline, supposedly even more Madea films are in the works. (OH GOD NO!)

And, needless to say, there’s still Perry’s huge deal with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, so it’s not like he's going away soon.

The decision to end the deal was "based on a variety of matters such as international distribution and marketing," and perhaps another reason could be that Lionsgate, after the massive worldwide success of the Twilight movies and now with The Hunger Games, wants to expand to become a real major studio powerhouse to be considered the equal of Warner Bros or Fox, and making Perry movies doesn’t really fit into their future plans.

And though his films, no doubt, still make money, they don’t make the kind of money that they used to a few years ago, and perhaps Lionsgate saw nothing but diminishing returns with their association with Perry.

Although, keep in mind that nowhere does Lionsgate say that it’s won’t stop distributing his films. Just that, from now on, he’s free to take his projects somewhere else first, and that Lionsgate has no obligation to help make them or release them.

And besides, as I’ve been saying for a while, Perry should finally move on and start distributing his own films himself, and not be so beholden to Lionsgate to distribute his works.

So do you think this is good news, bad news, or good riddance?

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23 Comments

  • Debbie Washington | March 19, 2014 11:14 AMReply

    I believe that the fact that tyler perry has severed his ties with Lionsgate filmse is one of the greatest moves he could have ever made. Everyone no's that Hollywood studios do bring in a lot of money for there movies bur, so do east coast ,and other studio company's. So when one door closes another will always open baby. I know that Tyler will continue being a success even better now mark my words God never lies, and he never fails. In a bout six months mr. Tyler will be the biggest selling African American movie play producer in the world. Remember I said it first if this is true Tyler I want my props. Sincerely Debbie Washington

  • Lauren B | March 3, 2014 12:58 PMReply

    Check the numbers! It's always the numbers. Rarely is it personal. From what I've gathered on boxoffice dot com (which INCLUDES p&a on their estimates), Perry has been steadily losing steam. His marketing cost have rapidly increased while he still brings in the same amount and is just breaking "even" or making small chump change. These film companies want HUGE returns; they're not interested in chump change. And now that it's evident some "black films" (RIDE ALONG) can cross the $100 mil mark, the stakes are going to get higher. Obviously, Perry is a survivor and he'll be alright but I do think he should be concerned that his appeal to the younger audience/generation is rapidly decreasing. Even when you look at the numbers for his shows on OWN, the numbers are big because his appeal is to an older set. In fact, I suspect his average viewer is in her 50's. While there's nothing wrong with that, it's usually young folks who go to the movies consistently and, when all is said and done, determine if films will be blockbuster hits.

  • The Ebony Cinematheque | March 3, 2014 12:34 PMReply

    I am not surprised by this or even angry because this needed to happen. Tyler Perry was let go from Lionsgate due to his persistence on international distribution and marketing of his films and the new re-branding of Lionsgate. TP has made “side hustle” money for Lionsgate over the years and they have been pleased by this, they honestly believed that acquiring this talent who had insight to the African American consumer they never had before would inflate their earnings to huge levels. In actuality, TP did alright in film standards. He had a steady product with a steady return, which gave nothing new or exciting to the marketplace but could return a profit domestically. So, Lionsgate was fine with this but in recent years TP has been bitching about how his movies have not been given the opportunity for international distribution. TP has always said there is an overseas demo that enjoys his movies, and rightly so but return on releasing his movies overseas usually looks like the cost of a brand new home while in contrast the cost for marketing overseas usually looks like the price of a private island. So, you can see why LG didn’t want to send his movies overseas. Eventually things were back to normal where LG would give TP financing for his movies, he would make a return and so forth. But then someone got wise over at LG and decided there were other smaller less expensive black studios they could acquire who are current in the industry, introducing Code Black. Code Black is a small independently own black production company known for its comedy offerings but what many people don’t understand is that though this studio doesn’t seem like a threat to TP , they actually REALLY REALLY ARE! TP was busy helping OWN when this was happening because if he was paying attention he would have noticed how LG had brought Summit, which owns the Twilight franchise – which is HUGE! And they have been doing the Hunger Games – which is ALSO HUGE. LG has slowly been transformed themselves back to their previous image as an edgy production company offering tent-poles as well as edgy independent fare, for those who don’t know LG in its heyday we’re the ones behind movies like the violently graphic American Psycho with Christian Bale.
    Pay attention to this because this is going to be of importance later…….
    Code Black was the perfect acquisition to fill their African American market because Hart Beat Productions, the new Eddie Murphy “Kevin Hart” is attached to it and has a HUGE GLOBAL AUDIENCE and fame from RHOH and his standup specials. 2nd Codeblack had already implemented the digital distribution model with Hulu and Netflix which meant they would create their content and distribution exclusive through VOD. No theaters required unless the content deemed highly profitable (i.e. Kevin Hart Laugh at My Pain franchise) which was brilliant and something TP studios hadn’t learned or used yet. But to make it clear how damaging this is for TP that meant that Code Black isn’t dependent on distribution via a theater so there would be no enormous cost and the fact that opens up development deals with Kevin Hart. But remember the little backstory I gave you about earlier LG when people like Roger Avary and others need a cool trendy art-house studio to make the films no one else would (AMERICAN PSYCHO), this is why that info was important. Code Black a little while ago created a deal for distribution with a company called Vivendi Entertainment which to others in the industry is known as Cinedigm, for those of you who don’t know Cinedigm is one of the most exciting companies right now and one of the hottest since last night because two of their films were nominated for Oscars. The shocking The Act of Killing and the melancholy The Broken Circle Breakdown – THAT’S WHAT LG BROUGHT INTO!?
    So it wasn’t surprising that less than 5 days before the Oscars it hit the news that TP was no longer going to be offered a first look (LG would no longer have first dibs on any project TP would be working on as well as TP not being allow to do any project they were developing which could have been a potential Oscar nominee, he would now have the freedom to make his movie anywhere by anyone but LG has no CONTRACTALLY OBLIGATION to make anything he writes any longer) Though they still will probably distribution his films, it’s just now with this freedom I highly believe the distribution will be very selective and the marketing budget slashed dramatically almost as if TP is an independent filmmaker( limited TV spots, posters and theaters) and more money pushed towards tent-poles or midrange indies.
    TP needs to learn his craft. Period. In the end it became his undoing, he has had plenty of time to do this and for the life of me I cannot understand this. If TP was paying attention to the business deals his job was making he could have got out of there before this happened to him. He has enough money to do exactly what LG just did, to hire the right people and develop projects to profit and gain success like Mr. Pitt just did last night with Plan B for 12 years a Slave. I hope that this new found friendship with Spike Lee could lead to a new era in TP career where he would develop a new production branch for Spike and allow him to merge 40 Acres and a Mule with this and develop the work necessary to knock LG down a few pegs.

  • Marie | March 3, 2014 2:53 PM

    Thank you both for bringing up TP's lack of craft. I, too, have been endlessly puzzled with his seeming lack of interest in improving. I compare it with athletes (since so many TP-lovers don't understand this constructive criticism)—would you continue to support an athlete who didn't work to improve his skills? Would you want to watch a consistently mediocre athlete? I can't help but wonder if TP fears facing his limitations honestly.

  • Donella | March 3, 2014 1:01 PM

    "TP needs to learn his craft. Period. In the end it became his undoing, he has had plenty of time to do this and for the life of me I cannot understand this. "

    I also don't understand how someone who is passionate about the art and craft of filmmaking either cannot or will not improve. I just don't get it.

    I agree that the solution to what I think is TP's stagnation, is collaboration with other artists.

  • Dave's Deluxe | March 2, 2014 3:42 PMReply

    Not a TP fan at all, but it's pretty obvious he and Oprah and aligning themselves together for a mass takeover of all thing TP related. Smart move, considering. Now Lionsgate can back to the business of making actual movies and not embarrassing minstrel shows.

  • CareyCarey | March 2, 2014 1:48 AMReply

    POINT-SET-MATCH! "As for Perry, he'll be fine" says the announcer Tambay O.

    Once again Tambay has made the correct call. Least we forget, Mr. Tyler Perry went from rags to riches without the cherry picking low-ballers assistance.

    "CareyCarey, what do you mean "low-ballers"?

    It has to do with Codeblack... and I'll get back to that.

    Well... lets go there right now. Tambay said "Codeblack is likely a lot less expensive for Lionsgate to maintain, than the agreement they had with Tyler Perry".

    Yes, I'd say that's safe to assume. Yet, who's to say Tyler didn't tell them to get out of HIS pocket unless certain terms were addressed? Because, as I said, Tyler does not need them, never has and never will. So in essence, he was calling all the shots from the jump, while the white man came a-begging for a piece of the black pie.

    Now in steps Codeblack. First, remember, distribution and production carry their own set of problems and costs... and Liongates wanted some cake and eat it too. Tyler had the cake, yet simply wanted to sweeten it a wee bit, so there begins a match made in heaven.

    Now back to Codeblack, they are not producing anything significant, in relation to TP's films. Translation: Low production cost for Lionsgate. Rewards/profit/solution--> They (Codeblack) are essentially low-balling other producers ( for the library of films Tambay listed) whose films have few distribution options. Translation: "They're probably all profitable for Lionsgate."

    So the stage is set. Mr. Tyler Perry says "I need more of this and that or y'all gotta get out of my pocket cuz I don't need you" and Codeblack says, "we can make a lot of "negro-rich" type money off the backs of other black indie filmmakers who are begging for a place in the line, we can squeeze the sh*t out of them (low-ball them) ... so we don't need you either. So what we gonna do?".

    POINT-SET-MATCH! "As for Perry, he'll be fine" says the announcer and very wise man, Tambay O.

  • troll hunter | March 2, 2014 3:06 PM

    We were wondering when you would get a chance to unpress you lips from his ass to make another babbling comment.

  • Daryl | March 1, 2014 4:15 PMReply

    In the end this can be the best thing that has ever happen to Tyler Perry in his career. This is an old game that has been used on black folks before, a small studio or tv station uses black film or tv series to build up their network or studio, then when they are established they drop us. Tyler Perry doesn't need a studio to distribute his films. They have just distributed his films on a domestic level, he can do that himself. Tyler Perry is worth close to half a billion dollars, he has his own studio, a good size audience that support his films or anything he puts his name on it, a great partnership with own network on the tv end ,my opinion I think it's a step back if he does another studio deal that he doesn't need. He has a platform, the deal with own network, he has an infrastructure, his own studio, he has the audience, his films do at least 35 to 60 million, he has the money, the man is own his way to being a billionaire. Hollywood did not make Tyler Perry rich, he was already rich when he started dealing with hollywood. The one thing Tyler Perry could do to take his studio to another levels is start producing a variety of black films, sci -fi,action, thrillers, and horror movies with great black directors, he did this his studio would become a major studio. It would be like motown from a film side of things where he has most of the great black talent under his studio. Sometimes we don't realize our own power and settle because we buy into the hype this is what we got to do to really make it. Even if he doesn't want to use his own money why not get a loan from black banks to have the cash to jump start his studio if he decides to distibute his own films. Tyler Perry track record of success and his networth, he would get the loans. That would be big for black folks on an economic end because it would be another blow to kill the stupid stereotype that we can't come together and get things done economically to change things. Tyler Perry can be a catalyst to usher change in this industry if he really wants to, but does he want to or just go along with the program?

  • Donella | March 1, 2014 10:27 AMReply

    Lionsgate has always refused to distribute and market Tyler Perry's films, even the good ones!

    Because of this, Lionsgate stunted TP's box office. TP made up for stunted box office by establishing a conveyor belt of multiple low-quality films per year and so tarnished his brand.

    At this same time, Lionsgate provided international marketing and distribution for filmmakers new to the party while continuing to throttle TP. Basically, an insult, a gesture of disrespect, and an unfortunate shame.

    This year, we've seen Black films and filmmakers marketed all around the world. If TP wants to remain competitive with his colleagues, he either needs to find a distributor who will give him equal access to the world market, or build his own international distribution network.

    I, for one, hope he builds his own. I believe TP can still make good films, if he gets off the conveyor belt and really spends TIME to make each film as high-quality as possible.

  • Floyd Webb | March 1, 2014 8:37 AMReply

    Tyler will do alright. Nothing to see here. That's Hollywood Bid'niz. If Oprah is smart(and she is kinda) she will jump into the mix and reap some production profits out of Perry's work. I ain't a fan of the work but I am an advocate of independent cinema. Now is his chance to thrive off the plantation.

  • Jazzy | May 1, 2014 1:00 PM

    Its funny how you said that oprah is 'kinda smart' when she was able to work her way from poverty to college to being a tv anchor to owning her own studio and tv network (How many tv anchors can say they did that), while you're sitting here behind a computer screen commenting on her success.

  • Mark & Darla | February 28, 2014 11:48 PMReply

    Tyler seem like a person who don't let his left hand know what's his right hand is doing, so everybody chill out and stop speculating before somebody have a heart attack.

  • S. Avery | February 28, 2014 11:30 PMReply

    Thank you, 'TAMMY'
    For all that Great additional info.

  • S. Avery | February 28, 2014 11:31 PM

    "TAMBAY"
    *dang Spell Check

  • Tambay | February 28, 2014 9:46 PMReply

    This is indeed very interesting. Hmm... But I think you're right about where Lionsgate's focus now lies. This is what happens when you go from being an indie to a mini-major studio who likely now wants to graduate to the next level, and become a major studio, after tasting billion dollar box office successes. It's hard to go back to what once was. Another thing to to consider is that Tyler Perry was essentially Lionsgate's connection to black audiences, but now that they've acquired Codeblack Films (Jeff Clanagan's formely independent black owned and operated company), and made it a Lionsgate subsidiary, maybe the thinking there is that they have their own "in-house" link to the black audience, and don't need Perry anymore. Plus Codeblack is likely a lot less expensive for Lionsgate to maintain, than the agreement they had with Tyler Perry, which probably saw him keep a healthy percentage of back-end profits. And even though, thus far, Codeblack's library of films (Free Angela, Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete, Repentance, and the upcoming Halle Berry Sybil drama) aren't making anywhere near what Tyler Perry's have at the box office, they were also mostly a lot cheaper to make, given that they are all indie flicks. So, relative to box office, they're probably all profitable for Lionsgate. Plus, there's Kevin Hart and his 2 concert films which Codeblack released (I think the first one was released before Codeblack became a part of Lionsgate, and the second most recent one was released while under Lionsgate). Both films were incredibly profitable. The second one, released under Lionsgate, made over $32 million, on a *nothing* budget. These have been Codeblack's biggest hits. But if there's a good relationship there with Kevin Hart, it's very possible that we'll see some Kevin Hart movies set up at Lionsgate soon enough, since he's really *hot* right now. And I suspect that Lionsgate would like to grow Codeblack into its black cinema branch, and could be letting go of Tyler Perry to invest more into developing Codeblack as it emerges and we see it start to compete for distribution rights for even more prominent "black films" with real box office potential, with Lionsgate's backing. And I'd expect Codeblack to plant its foot firmly also in the production business as well.

    As for Perry, he'll be fine. At least I think so. But if Lionsgate no longer has a first-look deal with him, it might be a challenge. Are there any other studios anxious to be in the Tyler Perry business right now, especially when they're all chasing tent-pole movies as the rule, not the exception, mixed in with fall season Oscar bait? So, I don't know, he just may face some challenges, as he'll now have to start shopping his projects around, looking for the best deal, since he doesn't have Lionsgate's obligation to depend on. I doubt that he'll start distributing his own films. It's expensive to start. And it's a lot of work. I think he'd want someone else to carry the entire burden, and he can just focus on making his films. He could, but I'd be surprised if he did. I think he'll probably be looking to sign a similar kind of deal at another studio that he had with Lionsgate. But he seems to be really busy over at OWN right now, with 4 scripted series, 3 of them already on OWN's schedule, and doing very well, and a fourth one on the way.

    Another thing to consider is that the studio financing, production and distribution landscape has changed so much since he first entered the business, with DVD sales and rentals in the toilet, and overseas box office becoming far more important to the overall success of studio films. And while some of his movies have played in pockets here and there overseas, I don't think Tyler Perry has much of an audience outside the USA, given that the overwhelming bulk of the box office his films earn come from domestic ticket sales. And this might make him less attractive of a risk to take for some studios. But maybe there's interest, and a deal announcement with another studio is imminent.

    This is all very interesting and I'm really curious to see where it all goes.

  • jazzy | May 1, 2014 7:18 PM

    @GHOST I don't see why Tyler Perry wouldn't be able to get distribution with Walmart/Target/Best Buy- He already is well known, has a lot of clout in Hollywood, and has made plenty of profitable movies which I'm pretty sure all three stores are currently selling right now. You act like Lionsgate, Warner Bros., Fox, etc are the only ones with the connections to get movies distrubuted in these stores. If walmart/target do collaborations with individual celebrities for clothing lines, perfumes, etc. Why wouldn't those same stores distribute movies for a celebrity like Tyler Perry who've they've already been working with over the past 9 years?

  • Ghost | March 2, 2014 3:56 PM

    ANd don't forget if Tyler has to deal with distribution and getting his films into theaters- he might be in store for a reality check. Lionsgate can get his product into places he can't by himself. Can he get his product into Target & Wal-Mart without them?
    You deal with a company that struggles to their product into a store and you will have issues. Ask Donald Glover & Mack Wilds-both who put out cds last year and those said cds are just NOW popping up in stores.

  • DJ | March 1, 2014 12:56 PM

    @BEEMOOREE I'd be shocked if Fox Searchlight picked up Perry. No way do his films line up with the kind of niche and foreign specialty fare that Fox's has been putting out these last years, most of which has been first rate.

  • Donella | March 1, 2014 10:30 AM

    ...I don't think Tyler Perry has much of an audience outside the USA, given that the overwhelming bulk of the box office his films earn come from domestic ticket sales...

    Because Lionsgate refused to even attempt marketing and distribution of TP films outside the US. Even with international superstars--Janet Jackson, Jill Scott--in the cast, not even one territory.

  • beemooree | February 28, 2014 10:32 PM

    Im sure fox searchlight will call. They've been struggling for years to get tyler perry money for black films

  • Adam Scott Thompson | February 28, 2014 10:30 PM

    Lionsgate is looking to be the next Miramax. And more power to them. I've enjoyed watching the overall "game plan" they've employed since the "Saw" franchise was born.

    I see Perry pushing further into television while bankrolling projects from copycat filmmakers. Eventually he'll just outright buy the NAACP Image Awards and rename it The Perrys.

  • No | February 28, 2014 9:30 PMReply

    This could be a blessing in disguise. I'm not a big fan of Perry's films, but I respect the fact that he does have a studio and a base; he could distribute them if he were to think about an building an infrastructure.

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