Over two years after they ended their relationship with Tyler Perry, Lionsgate is back in the Tyler Perry business – at least for another 2 films, in addition to the most recent, “Boo! A Madea Halloween,” which has been in theaters for almost 3 weeks.
The studio, today reporting a loss of $17.5 million in its fiscal second quarter, missing Wall Street expectations, and facing unhappy shareholders who’ve seen the company’s stock price drop 41 percent this year, made the announcement that it had ordered 2 more films from Perry, whose strong brand has been a steady performer for them, since they started doing business with him over a decade ago.
One of the 2 movies ordered will be another Madea-centered picture (no surprise, given how well the moderately budgeted “Boo!” has performed so far – Perry’s best showing at the box office in 6 years); the other film wasn’t revealed during the conference call with Wall Street analysts, but it won’t be a Madea movie. So what might it be? That announcement will come eventually.
Although, browsing through the Shadow and Act archives, I did come across an early 2014 post (which was made around the same time that the news of the studio not renewing its agreement with Perry, broke), in which Perry, via his 34th Street Films, and Lionsgate, had picked up an action/comedy pitch from screenwriters Jim and Brian Kehoe, titled “Top of the Food Chain,” which was described as “City Slickers” meets “The Grey.”
“City Slickers” was the 1991 comedy western about a middle-aged man plagued with a mid-life crisis, who is rejuvenated while on a cattle-driving vacation with his friends. Billy Crystal starred. And “The Grey,” released in 2011, starred Liam Neeson as the skilled leader of 6 oil workers fighting for their survival against a pack of wolves, after their plane crashes in Alaska. What a cross of those 2 rather different films will look like, I can’t say. Although we were told that it’ll be an action-comedy.
Story specifics weren’t made public at the time; and neither was whether Perry will star in the film, or simply produce.
We haven’t heard anything about the project since then, likely because Perry and Lionsgate parted ways soon after that.
China-based DMG Entertainment, which co-produced “Iron Man 3” and “Looper,” were on-board to produce the film.
Maybe the second project that Lionsgate has now ordered from Perry is this “Top of the Food Chain,” since they wanted to make it together at one time, but never did. Then again, maybe the second film will be something else entirely. Perry did previously say that an “Alex Cross” sequel was possible, although the first film wasn’t made with Lionsgate, and given how poorly it performed at the box office, I doubt that a guaranteed box office hit-seeking Lionsgate would want to take the risk on “Alex Cross 2”
But 1 more Madea movie is definitely on the way; we can at least say that with certainty. I won’t be surprised if, like “Boo!”, it’s set during some national holiday. He’s already done a Madea Christmas, so maybe a Madea New Year; or an annual popular celebration like a Madea Mardi Gras. Although Perry did recently say , while doing press for “Boo!” that he’d like to use Madea to tackle some serious topical issues, like gun violence or police brutality, so either is an option.