Tyler Perry Still Has ‘Issues Getting Screens in White Neighborhoods,’ He Says

Did Lionsgate leave “Madea” money on the table? It’s writer-director-star seems to think so

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Getty Images

Tyler Perry is celebrating his box office victory from this weekend, which ushered in the $27.6 million debut of “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” telling TheWrap on Sunday, “I’m having a pretty good day.”

The comedy sequel, featuring Perry as his famously reactive grandmotherly character, opened at No. 1, and the film had enough momentum to unseat Paramount’s “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” — which was originally pegged as the weekend’s top movie.

Still, Perry wasn’t completely satisfied.

“I still have issues getting screens in white neighborhoods believe it or not,” he said. “I think the numbers could have been bigger had people who are in the white suburbs had the option to go to their own theaters to see it. It’s something I’ve been dealing with for many many years.”

Perry pointed out that Paramount’s Tom Cruise action sequel, which ultimately settled into second place to the latest “Madea” comedy, opened on far more movie screens. “All I know is, I have 1,500 less screens than ‘Jack Reacher,’” said the filmmaker, who wrote, directed and, of course, starred in “Boo! A Madea Halloween.”

Indeed, “Reacher” opened on 3,780 screens while “Madea,” which proved to have crossover appeal according to Lionsgate exit polling, debuted in only 2,260 locations.

“Boo! A Madea Halloween” stood out from the rest of Perry’s popular comedy series in that it attracted a much more diverse audience.

Sixty percent of “Madea” movie audiences this weekend were African American and the other 40 percent were Caucasian, Asian and Latino, the studio reported. In the past, the series attracted mostly black audiences — around 80 to 90 percent, typically, according to Lionsgate.

The film also over-performed, beating all estimates that were put forth earlier last week — by roughly $10 million.

Lionsgate, aware of Perry’s comments, told TheWrap that they stand by their decision to launch the film in less than 3,000 theaters.

The studio cited the company’s goal to maximize revenue and emphasized that this weekend’s results for Perry’s latest film speak for themselves, adding that the film’s wide release is in line with many other Perry films — many of them hits — released by the studio, and that the opening is also in line with the releases of other movies in similar genres.

At the end of the day, Perry is happy his audience is expanding. “I think that it’s just broadening on its own organically, which is really amazing,” he said.

This weekend’s over-performance may also serve as food for thought for his next “Madea” film, which Perry said will have “more international appeal.”

“Brendan O’Carroll does a character called Mrs. Brown, which is huge in Europe. I’m working very closely with him. I’m putting a movie together for the two of us — Mrs. Brown and Medea.”

Next stop for Perry: the global stage.