It’s the end of an era as it pertains to Tyler Perry’s relationship with Lionsgate Entertainment, the studio that has distributed his 15 film releases.
Back in February, it was formally announced that Perry and Lionsgate mutually decided it would not renew their deal, but may consider some future collaborations.
Immediately there were headlines in some of the trade publications claiming that Lionsgate had dropped Perry, which was an immediate indication that the decision to shutter the relationship did not settle well with Lionsgate and the studio likely was spinning the story in their favor.
It’s no secret that the multi-hyphenate mogul made tons of money for Lionsgate. In 2005, when they partnered with Perry, the studio had just announced that they had to slash its profit outlook for the year, citing, among other things, the extremely lackluster box-office performance of “In The Mix,” which starred R&B singer Usher Raymond.
The studio missed financial projects for 2005 by $20 million, dropping their planned $35 million to $15 million. Later that year, Perry released his first theatrical project “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” and the film opened with a jaw-dropping $22 million and made $51 million domestically in total. That was even after the critics panned it!
You don’t have to be a mathematician to see that 44-year-old playwright-turned-filmmaker helped Lionsgate turn things around. Lionsgate had struggled to get its footing since its 1997 launch. But Perry’s projects helped make the studio competitive and viable and led to them being able to do big budget features like “Twilight” and “Hunger Games.”
He would go on to produce 12 other critically panned but commercially viable feature films; the highest grossing being “Madea Goes To Jail” ($41 million opening/$91 million total) and the lowest being “Daddy’s Little Girls” ($11 million opening/$31 million total).
Perry also produced a film called “Peeples,” a movie actually written and directed by Tina Gordon Chism. Despite starring red-hot “Scandal” star Kerry Washington, the film made a paltry $5 million in opening weekend and $9 million overall.
Regardless, Lionsgate’s nine-year partnership with Perry allowed them to earn huge profits off of his affordably-made films and establish themselves a solid base with the under-served African-American audience.
Sadly, the end of the Lionsgate/Perry relationship closes on a sour note with his latest film, “The Single Moms Club” underwhelming at the box office, grossing $8.3 million from 3,183 theaters. This movie, the 15th for Lionsgate, is the worst opening of any project directed by Perry and ironically, the film that landed him his best reviews from mainstream critics!
Was this film doomed from the beginning with Perry and Lionsgate parting ways? Who knows! But Perry has shut down his 34th Street Films, consolidating operations at his Atlanta headquarters and plans to focus—at least for now—on just producing television shows for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network.