2012 is shaping up to be a busy year for Tyler Perry. The film mogul is slated to produce and/or act in four movies over the next 10 months. But with so many starring roles, not to mention his TV shows and entertainment empire, does Perry risk overexposing himself and exhausting his fans?
Today, Perry will release Good Deeds, a film in which he stars as an upper-class businessman who gets involved with an impoverished cleaning woman (played by Thandie Newton). In July, Perry will release another film he wrote, produced and directed — The Marriage Counselor, whose cast includes the infamous Kim Kardashian. Perry is also currently filming Madea’s Witness Protection, in which he reprises his trademark Madea role, this time hosting a wealthy white businessman in a witness protection program. That film is expected to come out later this year.
Finally, there’s I, Alex Cross, a film adaptation of the James Patterson novel, and the only film that doesn’t ofiicially fall under the Perry brand — he’s simply starring as the title character originally played by Morgan Freeman, neither directing nor producing.
THE IMAGE BELOW IS OF A RECENTLY DEFACED PERRY BILLBOARD:
For any artist this would be a very ambitious schedule, but for the ubiquitous Perry, it seems to be the norm — not only does he have two shows currently on television, now he’s acting and/or directing four films in one year.
He’s obviously paying his bills and maintaining a healthy franchise with the Madea movie and The Marriage Counselor, but with Good Deeds and I, Alex Cross, it’s clear that Perry is trying to expand his persona beyond the guy who plays the funny granny in drag, into that of a legitimate and respected actor.
Unfortunately for Perry, inundating audiences with your work isn’t necessarily the best way to earn their respect. The first strike against Perry is that he’s too prominent of a personality himself to convince audiences to see him as a character. Every time he’s on screen he’s Tyler Perry — not a character struggling with his marriage, or a Starfleet Academy admiral.
He’ll definitely have to work hard to convince audiences to show up for his Alex Cross film, not only because it’s outside his comfort zone, but also because of the outrage expressed by many when Perry got the part over Idris Elba.
There’s also the issue of too much of a good thing going wrong. Perry’s theater business has already suffered from over saturation via his film franchises — why go see a low-budget stage play when there’s a much higher quality film of the same ilk showing in theaters?
Now his films run the risk of quality depletion.
The Madea films seem to be nearing the end of their run (though this latest one stars a white cast in pursuit of crossover success, which should irritate his core fan base to no end) and churning out three films in one year doesn’t exactly scream quality production. Eventually audiences may tire of Perry’s signature plot line — a protagonist fallen from grace who becomes redeemed by some outside force — and three films in one year could speed the process.
Ambition is key to success, but Perry’s single-minded focus on increasing his media presence could unhinge everything he’s worked so hard to establish. A piece of advice for Perry: Sometimes you have to let audiences miss you.
Follow Kia Miakka Natisse on Twitter at @miakka_natisse