Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor “over performed” at the box office this weekend to the surprise of many box office analysts. The movie ended up grossing near $22 million even though some predicted the movie to gross the low to mid teens. Playing in barely over 2,000 theaters, below average for a wide release, it grossed a spectacular $10,894 per location, almost identical to the $11,000 per location as G.I. Joe: Retaliation which played on a thousand more theaters and had a significantly higher market exposure.
The Target Demographic for a 4 Quad Hit is young and old along with men and women. My soapbox mantra is simple: Hollywood selectively caters to the young, secular, straight white men. They seem to be leary to make movies outside this box. Movies made outside of this formula typically over perform. Hollywood has a tendency to ignore segments of the population. There seems to be a lack of diverse products for various audiences. Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo tweeted the following statement which became the buzz of movie goers on Twitter: “There are only three directors who have at least nine $20+ million openings: Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, and… Tyler Perry.”
There are only three directors who have at least nine $20+ million openings: Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, and… Tyler Perry.
— Ray Subers (@raysubers) March 31, 2013
This might be the tipping point where Hollywood has the face the reality of catering to diverse audiences. However, I had a feeling that the Tyler Perry brand would, yet again, prevail above the expectations of the industry for a few reasons.
The Overlooked African American Audience
When Think Like A Man shocked most people in the industry last year, it should have been a wake up call for Hollywood to embrace diversity. It really hasn’t. Diversity hasn’t really flourished. A sure fire way to make money in this era is finance a movie that has a selected target demograph while a robust marketing strategy. Studios do this when they cast foreign stars in Blockbusters that make big bucks overseas, yet most studios have struggled to do so at home. Learning a lessons from Tyler Perry could help the industry.
Honestly: Sex Sells
Featuring a leg on the poster helped catch eyes and provocative chatter. As the saying goes, sex sells. The sultry Kim Kardasian making her acting debut sure generated additional buzz (if not induce some chuckles). Movies seem to shy away from the topic of married people having sex and the struggles of intimacy. Viewers typically see these frustrations unleashed in affairs, but the emotions of spouses isn’t usually shared. This is a different kind of sex that can still draw in audiences. Simple enough.
The Under Utilized Church Goers
The Bible Miniseries was an earth-shattering wake up call that Hollywood isn’t making movies for eager audiences. Though marketing a sexy movie to Christians seems foolish, but the frank sex talk is appropriate in the context of marriage. It seems fickle and selective of this audience, but is consistent with their values. Temptation had an outreach to churches…and Easter weekend no less. (How foolish of an industry has only had one Easter themed movie in the past year: Hop.) There should be more movies marketed to this audience. I remember when Of Gods & Men opened two years ago and how Sony Pictures Classic wasted an opportunity marketing a sincere, moving portrayal of Christian faith to churches. Lionsgate seems to know how to sell a movie to a select audience.
People Are Talking About Marriage
This is debatable and open to interpretation but let’s face the facts of life: the word marriage was the most discussed word the previous week as the Supreme Court hears Oral Arguments defining the legality of gay marriage. Marriage was on the mind of the collective American Society. And marriage was the focus of Temptation. There isn’t evidence that the discussion of marriage equality helped Temptation at the box office, but the events of the week have people talking about marriage. When Tyler Perry talks about marriage and relationships, those movies tend to do pretty well. It’s a refreshing change of pace for Tyler Perry fans than Madea.
I find it puzzling that the Entertainment Industry doesn’t try to make more movies for segmented audiences. Lower budget movies made for select audiences with a well thought out marketing plan could go a long way. When will more production companies and movie studios in the Entertainment Industry get the message?