Tyler Perry says Films with All Black Cast on Verge of Extinction

Jan 19, 2012

Last week it was George Lucas saying Hollywood studios don’t fund films with black leads and this week we’ve got Tyler Perry saying "movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct."

"THAT’S RIGHT, EXTINCT!" Perry, the most financially successful black film director and producer in history, wrote on his website Tuesday.

An excerpt from Perry’s letter to fans:

Unfortunately, movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct. THAT’S RIGHT, EXTINCT! Ask any executive at a Hollywood Studio why, and most of them will tell you one of two things. The first thing they’ll say is that DVD sales have become very soft, so it’s hard for a movie with an all black cast to break-even. Secondly they’ll say, most movies are now dependent on foreign sales to be successful and most "black" movies don’t sell well in foreign markets. So what that means is you will begin to see less and less films that star an all black cast. Isn’t that sad in a 2012 America? Somewhere along the way we still haven’t realized that we are more alike then not. …

I thought that as black people in Hollywood, this is just our reality, but I quickly realized that this is not racism. What made me realize this is I had a conversation with Mr. Star Wars himself, George Lucas, and he was telling me that he was having the same problem with Red Tails. I was blown away! Red Tails is an important story about, not just black history, but American history about the Tuskegee Airmen. It has an all-star African American cast, including Cuba Gooding Jr. and Terrence Howard, which opens this Friday. He went on to say that he brought the movie idea of Red Tails to several studios and no one wanted to make this film…. AND THIS IS GEORGE LUCAS! Not to be deterred, he put up his own money, shot the movie then took it back to those same studios, and they wanted nothing to do with it. One of them even refused to see the film, citing the above mentioned problems.

Perry’s salary has now outgrossed the rest of the entertainment industry but his movie budgets have not. On a guest appearance on the ‘Daily Show’ Lucas pointed out Perry’s movies are made on a very low budget and so they’re not a risk for studios to take on. It’s a win-win situation only for those involved because Perry has a loyal audience.

Still, some have some good suggestions for Perry: Put your money where your mouth is.

"Mr Perry, one way that you of all people could help ensure that movies starring all African American casts don’t become entirely extinct is to use some of that money and power you now have accumulated, to help finance and/or produce films by black filmmakers with all black casts – especially up-and-comers," Tambay wrote on IndieWire’s ‘Shadow and Act" blog.

(h/t Shadow and Act)