Tyler Perry held the premiere of A Madea Family Funeral Monday in New York City and the magical night also served as the end of an era for the filmmaker who is set to retire the beloved character.
Nearly 15 years after the release of the first installment in the franchise, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Perry is saying farewell to the Madea films, which launched his Hollywood career and made him the movie mogul that he is today.
As noted by The Hollywood Reporter, the new Madea film is the eleventh and final for the writer-producer-director, because, as Perry noted, “I don’t want to be her age playing her, so it was time to shut it down and move on.”
The 49-year-old award-winning filmmaker told The Hollywood Reporter that he’s “got some other things I want to do, and in this next 50, I’m going to do something different.”
Madea fans wondering if it’s the death of the gun-toting granny that the new film follows, Perry wants y’all to know that killing her off wasn’t an option.
“It’s always going to be open-ended because what you don’t want to do is murder a family member,” he said. “And a lot of people feel like she’s a family member.”
THR reports that many attendees at the premiere seemed to be mourning Madea and even newbies to the franchise were emotional about the end of a cult cinema darling.
“I just don’t want to believe it. It’s a sad day,” actress Patrice Lovely, who’s starred in several Madea films over the years, told THR. “I don’t want to get sensitive because I don’t want to mess up my make up, but I love Madea.”
Newcomer KJ Smith added: “I’m from the South, and Madea reminds me of several black mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers that I grew up with, so I’m going to miss that representation on film. And just the comedy of it all. [Perry] is just a funny person.”
Perry first introduced the 68-year-old Madea character onstage in the 1999 play, I Can Do Bad All By Myself. Since then, he has bagged millions playing her in various theater productions and dozens of films, TV shows, and she was even the focus of a book.
Perry is currently serving up the Madea’s Farewell Tour stage production that has performed to sold-out crowds.
A Madea Family Funeral hits theaters March 1.