By Steven Zeitchik
Updated: 2:57 p.m. ET Oct 17, 2007
NEW YORK - Tyler Perry’s triumph at the box office with “Why Did I Get Married?” has heartened the growing number of studios looking to crack the market for black films.
But those studios also could face an unlikely problem: Tyler Perry.
The number of distributors and producers making movies that star and target blacks is climbing at an unprecedented clip. They’re reversing a pattern of studio indifference that for years allowed smaller players like Lionsgate, which has seen a box office gross of about $145 million from the three previous Perry films it has distributed, to enjoy a windfall.
“There’s probably not one new story to tell that hasn’t been told about white people,” said Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper. “But there are so many stories that haven’t been told yet about people with brown and black faces.”
Screen Gems, the Sony-owned mid-budget label, is opening two black-targeted comedies in the next three months: the holiday picture “This Christmas” and the Ice Cube vehicle “First Sunday.”
For all the carping about how Hollywood doesn’t give Perry respect — though of course he often gets respect in articles about how he doesn’t get respect — it’s also a fertile time for black movies.
At Our Stories Films, the Weinstein Co.’s co-venture with BET founder Robert Johnson, several projects are in development, while sister unit Dimension is prepping “Comeback,” a sports comedy drama with Ice Cube.
Even specialty divisions are getting in on the act. Fox Searchlight may have had a disappointing result with Chris Rock’s “I Think I Love My Wife,” but it’s still casting in New York for a potential Notorious B.I.G. biopic and is readying a sequel to the Cedric the Entertainer vehicle “Johnson Family Vacation.”
The evidence of the growing clout of the black audience? A minority filmmaking summit last week, where bigwigs such as Warner Bros.’ Barry Meyer and Peter Roth turned out to address filmmakers. (Continue Reading)
Now all of a sudden Hollywood wants to recognize the Black market...SMH. It's amazing when we start supporting each other how mainstream America starts to take notice. This happened with Hip Hop and now it is happening with films about us by us.
I know a lot of playrwrights are mad at Perry and call his stuff the Chitlin' Circuit or the like but I say why be mad at the brother. Just respect him as the trail blazer that he is his. You don't have to do exactly what he is doing, but you can still follow his path while prodding out one for yourself. There is a growing need for more stories about Black and Brown faces. We don't need Hollywood to tell our stories when we can tell our own stories. There is more than enough space for all of us to be successful. We just have to learn how to support each other in our different endeavors.