Tyler Perry Gets Visionary Award


Exclusive: Tyler Perry Talks Visionary Award, Lionsgate Deal, and Alex Cross
By Wilson Morales

April 1, 2011

Last night, producer/director/ actor Tyler Perry was honored with the CinemaCon Visionary Award at the CinemaCon awards ceremony at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace during CinemaCon, the official convention of the National Association of Theatre Owners.

It came on the heels of the New Orleans, Louisiana native signing a new multi-year deal with Lionsgate, where he will developed two new Madea films and two other projects that he is attached to produce, write, direct and/or star in.

Perry and Lionsgate have worked together since his 2006 hit ‘Diary of a Mad Black Woman,’ which grossed over $50 million dollars off a $5 million budget.

With his latest film, ‘Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family,’ set for release on April 22, his two TV series on TBS Networks and his upcoming role as the new Alex Cross, Perry has his hands full being in front and behind the camera.

He spoke to Blackfilm.com exclusively regarding his award, his business relationship with Lionsgate, the Madea franchise, Alex Cross, and another film, ‘Jumping the Broom.’

Congratulations on your Visionary Award. How exciting is to be embraced by the theater owners around the country and the fact that you’ve done as well for yourself?

Tyler Perry: That’s pretty well damn incredible because the truth is as I think about, you know, I thought about the fans, I thought about them going and much I appreciate my audience. How loyal they are. I never really gave much to the theater owners and how many- gave much thought to the people who actually own the theaters and how big that is for them, as well. So that’s a great thing. And they really, really showed me today that it’s added pressure because now I will be thinking about them, as well. But it’s a good feeling.

Since you are getting the awards from them, are they going to give you more theatres in other areas?

TP: The thing about it is with the theaters, I don’t know. ‘Madea’ is opening on over 3000 screens. So I don’t know if a lot of the theaters, if the areas that some of these theaters are in, if my audience is there. It would be great to see but for the most part where I’ve done most of my business I’ve had lots of screens in a lot of the same theaters.

At the end of the day it’s all about business. You also just renewed your relationship with Lionsgate Films. Can you talk about that?

TP: It’s like staying in a good marriage. It works very, very well. We work very well together. We know each other’s style. We know what we need. We know what we want. We know how to work well together to be great business partners. So it’s good. I don’t see myself anywhere else. There are good and bad in every relationship. Things you have to deal with. But for the most part the good so far outweighs the bad that I don’t see myself being anywhere else.

Between the plays, the films, and the television series, you’re going to be around for a long time. Can you keep Madea around for the same time?

TP: Madea’s going to be around as long as people want to see it. Listen, I could end right now but as long as people come to see it. As long as they’re excited about it then she’ll be around. It is a business that has become a franchise. And it has to serve as it’s supposed to.

There’s a lot of buzz about your role as Alex Cross, which would be your first starring role that you are involved with as a producer, writer, or director. What was the appeal in taking such a role?

TP: I read it (the book). I thought about it, but after ‘For Colored Girls’. ‘For Colored Girls’ was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. But it broke something in me. It freed me to just try new things. So I’m very excited about ‘Alex Cross.’ I’m working out and taking ass kicking classes and all that other stuff to make sure that I’m on point for it. I’m taking acting classes and everything. So it’s going to be great.

With so much happening in your life, what keeps you grounded?

TP: People. Because it could all end tomorrow. All that’s happening is great here. It’s great now but this could all be over tomorrow. I mean it could go left. So I just celebrate and I thank God for every moment.

In 1991 we had more that 10 black films come out in theaters. So far we’re only talking about two, your film and ‘Jumping the Broom’. Is there anything we can do to change that?

TP: ‘Jumping the Broom’ is a really good movie. I saw it in a screening with bad color and bad sound. And it’s really good. So didn’t see a final. They showed me a rough cut of it. And I hope that a lot of people get out to see it. That’s what is going to determine whether more of these movies are made. Not Tyler Perry. I can only do what I can do. If we want to see more of ourselves on film then we need to get out and support other films. There were more that 10 film released in 1991? Wow. But the business has changed a great deal. There’s a lot of piracy. There’s a lot of things that are going on that’s making it more and more difficult. Even I have to argue about budgets. Even I have to argue. A billion dollars in business and I still have to argue about budgets; so for me to get a hundred million dollar budget to do a movie, forget about it. It’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen unless it’s something that is so far away from what I do that the studio says, ‘Okay, let’s take a try on this.’ But no, I’m still arguing about budgets. But if anybody wants to make a movie, I tell you the thing is this. Do your models. Make sure your numbers turn a profit. That is the key. If you’re numbers are low enough that you can turn a profit for the studio, you’ll be in business.

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