Tyler Perry is VarietyShowman of the Year 2020. For full coverage click here.
Before Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Tyler Perry communicated with fans the old-fashioned way – chatting with audience members at the end of his plays and collecting their email addresses. It was a way to stay in touch with his fans both personally (sending information about mundane activities like going to the store) and professionally (warning them about upcoming shows). âIt made us love it together,â he explains. And, over time, the growing list has become a powerful tool in his arsenal.
The industry first tasted of Perry’s audience power in 2003, after the playwright booked six shows at the Kodak Theater for his production of “Madea’s Class Reunion.”
“I asked them how many people they had at the box office, and [they said], “We have one,” Perry recalls. “I replied, ‘No, you might want to bring four or five’, [and they said], “Oh, no, we don’t need that for that.” I sent the email, sold all of these shows. Wife [at the theaterâs] wig was crooked, she was so shocked at what had happened.
The same happened with Perry’s first foray into Hollywood, âDiary of a Mad Black Womanâ. Debut on the Friday before the Oscars in February 2005, the comedy earned $ 21.9 million in its opening weekend, knocking Will Smith’s âHitchâ down from the top spot.
âI don’t know if anyone would have predicted that – other than Tyler, who told me we were going to open at No.1,â recalls Mike Paseornek, the Lionsgate executive who championed the project. “I wasn’t sure we would open at # 1, but I was pretty confident we were going to do some big business.”
The Lionsgate marketing team received a lot of help from Perry, who regularly emailed his fans reminding them that the film was coming out.
âThere are some big movie stars out there, and okay, they have an audience that comes to see them. But when someone would say to me, ‘Oh, you gotta meet so and so, this is the next Tyler Perry’, I would say to them, ‘Well, does your artist have a direct relationship 300 days a year with his audience? ? ‘, Says Paseornek.
âTyler will perform 260 to 300 days a year. And he gets instant feedback every night. Perry continued to take the stage after the Last Curtain until his last outing on “Madea’s Farewell Play,” which ended in February.
Although loyal, Perry’s fan base is often underestimated. âThis mailing list, this hunger that they have, cannot be followed; no one can really reach them. That’s why tracking all my movies was always so far away, âsays Perry, referring to box office numbers forâ Journal â. “It blew them away because [Hollywood] didn’t know how to get into the community.
When Perry emailed his fans about the production of “Madea’s Class Reunion,” there were approximately 170,000 names on the mailing list. That number has since risen to 800,000. But does he still use the list today?
âIt’s been a while because of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and people consume their information that way,â Perry said with a smirk. âSo I use it when I need it. “