I just saw The Brothers Bloom at the New Beverly. Get excited. It’s a good Sophomore effort, though I left as I did Rushmore, feeling like “Yeah, the vocabulary has expanded, but I feel like he’ll get it right the next time.” I think I may be in the minority on that one. But it’s really good.
SOMETHING LIKE A PHENOMENON. TELLING YOUR BODY TO COME ALONG
Tyler Perry films do around $40 Million. that’s not a bad number. If you keep your costs down, and people buy the DVD, that’s an exceptionally good number. It’s a steady business. People, or that is to say critics and white people and black people, often poo-poo Perry. I’ve heard the phrase “Chitlin Circuit” thrown around, and not by white people (read: Black people). I tend to stay out of the conversation in the same way I don’t buy FUBU.
What Perry has done is energized a base who turn out for his movies. They may like movies, may watch movies, but they are following his development, respond to his energy. And until he gets caught with a dead girl or a live boy, they will continue to turn out. When the first Madea film hit it caught a lot of people by surprise because they had no idea the success of Perry with his core demo, though the numbers are not so great that one has to feel out of the loop. his biggest hit did $63 million, and surely some of that business came from people who were curious about why the film opened to $30 Million. since then his grosses have fluctuated between $30 and $55 Million. What this essays is that the black community (and let’s not pretend his appeal extends too far outside of that) will go out for his films, but when Madea or Janet Jackson are involved, they might be more inclined. The Perry brand name has a base of $30. The film that did the worst starred Stringer Bell, but I can’t imagine he brought too many Wire fans with him.
Lionsgate has Perry on lock-down, and he also has a TV show going. The only thing that will stop this run is if people stop turning out. The interesting comparison is to Blaxploitation, which managed to help save Hollywood in the early 70’s. A number of those films were terrible, but Black audiences showed up because there were finally movies starring black actors about black people. Sure, the characters may have been pimps and pushers, but it didn’t matter, representation did. There are two ways for this to change. One is gearing this audience toward something better, and the second is overpopulation. If Perry pumps out films too fast he might dwindle his audience. But with low production costs, he’s instead built himself a franchise.
Perry’s business model may be the right thing to do for smaller films. Get an interested audience who are devoted to seeing representations of themselves and their beliefs on-screen, and then pander to them. As our society moves into a culture of niches, this might be the best way to make a return on investment. Keep the costs low, but tell your audience that you’re one of them. Even if you’re not. It’s strange to think cinema may returns to regional film-making to save itself, but there are worse things.
TOO MANY MOTHERFUCKERS, FUCKING WITH MY PREDICTIONS
Tyler Perry delivers. Jason falls. Fired Up comes out.
1. Tyler Perry’s Madea gets Sodomized (in Jail) - $23 Million
2. Friday the 13th - $18 Million
3. Taken – $16 Million
4. He’s Just not That into Doo-Doo - $12 Million
5. Coraline – $9.5 Million
And then on Sunday… How long, how long must I sing this song?