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Tyler Perry is going to Amazon Prime Video. The studio, with a film division led by Julie Rapaport, has notched a deal with the Atlanta-based entertainment mogul that will see him produce, write and direct four features for worldwide distribution on Prime Video.
“I’m excited and grateful to start working with Amazon Studios to bring movies to Prime Video,” said Perry in a statement. “Jennifer Salke and the entire team have welcomed me with open arms, and I’m looking forward to continuing telling unique stories and bringing my next projects to the global audiences that they reach.”
Perry broke out in Hollywood in 2005 with the surprise smash “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” The adaptation of his self-penned stage play introduced filmgoing audiences to Madea, the fast-talking, zero-shit-taking atheist grandmother played (in a supporting role) by Perry himself.
The film earned $50.6 million domestic from a $5.5 million budget, kicking off several years of commercially profitable features (“I Can Do Bad All By Myself,” “Meet the Browns,” “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “Why Did I Get Married?” and more). It also made Tyler Perry Productions one of the most reliable brands in the mid-2000s for Lionsgate, his studio home for 20 feature films.
While Perry has never really been able to successfully “retire” the marquee character — “Madea’s Family Reunion” begat “Boo!: A Madea Halloween” begat “A Madea Funeral” begat “A Madea Homecoming” — he has alternated a dozen Madea-specific features with non-Madea melodramas like “The Family That Preys,” “Good Deeds” and the recent Netflix drama “A Jazzman’s Blues.” His 25 directorial features (not counting “Diary Of A Mad Black Woman” which he wrote but did not direct) have earned over $1 billion worldwide.
Along with the film output, and periodic acting gigs in other filmmakers’ films (“Gone Girl,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” “Vice”), the filmmaker has created 17 multi-season television shows since “House of Payne” in 2007 and long had a deal with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN for his small-screen work.
“Tyler Perry is undeniably one of the most prolific creators of our time. He is a true multihyphenate who has defined his own incredible brand of storytelling and inspired people all over the world with his series and films,” Salke said in a statement. “We are excited to collaborate with Tyler and his teams to bring even more of his fantastic signature films to our global audiences.”
This isn’t 2009, when Perry’s theatrical features (which helped keep an entire generation of Black actresses like Taraji P. Henson, Angela Bassett, Kimberly Elise and comparatively employed as Hollywood went all-in on white male-starring four-quadrant action franchise tentpoles at the expense of almost everything else) were constantly “surprising” box office pundits who should have stopped being shocked after the third or fourth hit. During that 2005-2010 peak period, it sometimes seemed that Perry was the only filmmaker aside from Clint Eastwood releasing multiplex-friendly theatrical dramas outside of awards season.
Perry still has strong marquee value, and it can be hoped that at least some of his next four films for Prime Video will hew closer to Netflix’s “A Jazzman’s Song” (which represented an artistic stretch akin to his 2010 adaptation of “For Colored Girls”) alongside his broader, less disciplined comic farces.