Is Tyler Perry responsible for 'Red Tails' box office success?

theGRIO REPORT - 'Red Tails' came had a strong opening at the box office this weekend, and many are saying that the Tyler Perry helped....

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Red Tails came in second place at the box office this weekend earning $19.1 million. The film did better than expected, and many are saying that the public endorsement of Tyler Perry helped the George Lucas film soar.

According to Entertainment Weekly the movie about the Tuskegee Airmen gained momentum in the week leading up to its release.

Last week, in a letter to his fans, via his website, Tyler Perry urged moviegoers to support Red Tails:

“I think we should pull together and get behind this movie. I really do! Not just African Americans, but all of us. I have seen the movie and screened it here in Atlanta. I loved it and I think you will too. The Tuskegee Airmen, who were at the screening, were so happy that somebody is telling a small part of their story. It opens this Friday, Please take your kids, you will enjoy it and so will they. There is a lot of action and adventure and also a great history lesson to be learned.

Maybe the success of Red Tails was due to the an vigorous promotional campaign led by George Lucas and Lucasfilm, or possibly it was the push from black media figures like Perry that made it successful.

Following Perry’s endorsement YouTube views for the trailer skyrocketed and several media outlets began asking the question of whether or not movies starring an all African-American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct.

Perry’s past three films’ grosses reportedly have dropped by an average of 60 percent in their second weekends, but the ticket sales for Red Tails might increase in weeks to come.

Audiences that went to see Red Tails this weekend enjoyed the film, helping it score a rare “A” CinemaScore grade, which will only fuel the film’s momentum.

In December, 2011 Oprah Winfrey showed her support of Red Tails by hosting a private screening of the film in Dallas, TX. The lady of OWN took pictures with the director and cast and subsequently the photos went viral.

Friday, Oprah tweeted to her nearly 9 million followers, “I Hope u’all support the film #RedTails this wknd. Talk to George Lucas all about it on NEXT CHAPTER this SUNDAY.”

The fate of Lucas’ $58 million-plus passion project has yet to be determined, but with the help of black celebrity endorsements and filmgoers feeling obligated to support all African-American casts, Red Tails might just come out on top.

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC