I would like to preface this by stating that the demise of Tyler Perry as a significant box office draw does not mean anything more, or anything less, to me as a black man in America.
The proliferation and box office success of his Madea films did not set black people back 300 years, as some African American critics had stated, and there are no Coon Awards proliferating my post office box either. He has his way of making a film, and you can’t fault a man for doing things his way. However, with the recent bombing of Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club at the box office, Perry himself may need to rethink exactly what his idea of a hit film is, and if his messages are still resonating with movie viewers.
The much-anticipated film starring Nia Long, Amy Smart, Terry Crews, Wendi McClendon-Covey and Perry himself, opened at 1,896 theaters nationwide but only took home $8 million at the box office. But before you haters go sniggling at the misfortunes of others it would behoove you to be aware of two things. First off, although it is the worst opening in his directorial career, it is not even close to the worst Perry has ever had.
That distinction goes to Tyler Perry Presents the Peeples, which opened at around $5 million.
Perry was only the producer that go-round. Secondly, just because a film didn’t do well at the box office doesn’t mean it has no artistic merit or is otherwise creatively lacking in some way. More importantly, the fact that Perry as an African-American can generate funding and has enough industry cache to make movies and be allowed to fail at times like white producers and directors, is a positive sign for the future of black film in America, which still needs a diversity jolt despite a landmark 2014. Another common occurence with Perry's movies is that regardless of how many people go to see them, the fans that do go, seem to like them! His audience is true blue.
Single Moms garnered an A- from it's viewers via CinemaScore. Also, it couldn’t have helped that the film opened against the animated throwback film Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which surprisingly led all movies at the box office over the weekend with $21.2 million, and 300: Rise of an Empire, which earned $19.1 million. Single Moms Club was the last Tyler Perry film to be backed by Lionsgate as both parties agreed to part ways.
It will be interesting to see what the future holds for one of Hollywood's most affluent and impactful creators, and the direction Perry will take as his celebrated career transitions into another phase.