Lionsgate extends deal with Tyler Perry [updated]
The new contract keeps Perry, whose films such as "Madea Goes to Jail" and "Why Did I Get Married?" are hugely popular with African-American women, in business with the Santa Monica studio for three more years.
Over the last six years, Lionsgate has released 10 movies produced by Perry. Since his debut in 2005 with "Diary of a Mad Black Woman," Perry's films have grossed $52 million domestically on average, though they typically take in very little overseas.
Perry's next release, "Madea's Big Happy Family," opens April 22, and "We the Peeples," which he produced but didn't direct or star in, doesn't yet have a release date.
Lionsgate said that the new deal will include two additional movies starring his signature character Madea, an outspoken Southern African-American grandmother played by Perry in drag. The Madea movies have been Perry's most financially successful, particularly 2009's "Madea Goes to Jail," which grossed $90 million domestically.
The deal also gives Lionsgate the option to release other movies directed, written by, produced by or starring Perry. It also continues an arrangement through which the studio releases DVDs of his stage plays and other material.
Perry's low-cost movies have been consistently successful. His most recent release, "For Colored Girls" (an adaptation of a play) that Perry directed but did not appear in, was one of his worst performers, taking in $37.7 million at the box office.
Atlanta-based Perry makes his movies with total creative control and also keeps half of the profits in one of the most filmmaker-friendly deals in Hollywood, according to people familiar with the matter. That's because he brings Lionsgate a devoted fan base that consistently shows up to see his movies on opening weekend.
The extended arrangement does not include Perry's television works. He created and executive produces the TV sitcoms "Meet the Browns" and "House of Payne," which are distributed by Lionsgate subsidiary Debmar-Mercury and air on TBS. "House of Payne" is already in syndication, and "Meet the Browns" will soon follow.
"Lionsgate and I have built the ideal filmmaker/studio relationship and I'm thrilled that it will be continuing," Perry said in a statement. "More importantly, Lionsgate has been incredibly affirming of my relationship with my audience -- I've always had the artistic freedom to speak what I want, how I want, and when I want through my films."
Added Lionsgate Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer: "Lionsgate and Tyler have grown together for many years, and we look forward to pushing the envelopes of our businesses together for many years to come."
[Update, 3:04 p.m.: At the CinemaCon convention, Perry described his relationship with Lionsgate as akin to "a good marriage.
"It's the best professional experience I've had of any of my business dealings," he said. "When it works, it works."]
Times staff writer Amy Kaufman contributed to this report.
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Photo: Tyler Perry. Credit: Tyler Perry Studios.