Tyler Perry’s manic “Madea” franchise shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Perry’s new Halloween-themed film, “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” – itself a follow-up to last year’s “Boo! A Madea Halloween” – is already winning over movie audiences this Halloween. There are several important reasons why audience love “Boo 2! A Madea Halloween.”
According to preliminary box office numbers, “Madea” will make anywhere from $15 – $20 million during its first weekend of release, a figure that is at least 10% higher than initial expectations. As with other films from Tyler Perry, this new “Madea” film was not released in advance to movie critics, so there was not any initial buzz about the movie from critics. Moreover, you could plausibly argue that it was still too soon after the release of “Boo: A Madea Halloween” in 2016 for audiences to be excited about going to a sequel just a year later. So why the big box office turnout?
One factor appears to be the diverse demographics of the audience. In the past, Tyler Perry’s films played primarily to the African-American movie-going audience and relied almost exclusively on this demographic segment for huge box office receipts. That makes sense, right? After all, Perry’s films feature African-Americans as lead characters, and after 9 Tyler Perry films, audiences know exactly what to expect.
So that’s what makes the film’s cross-over appeal with new demographic segments especially encouraging. According to initial box office estimates, the primary ticket buyers to “Boo 2” were African-Americans (38%), White Caucasians (31%) and Hispanic (21%). This is easily the most diverse audience yet for a Tyler Perry film and a key reason why it did so well.
The title character – Madea –remains the undisputed star of this franchise. However, you could make the case that all of Tyler Perry’s other characters – especially Uncle Joe Simmons – are now becoming audience favorites. In review after review that came out after “Boo 2” premiered on opening weekend, the one character that people couldn’t stop talking about was Uncle Joe Simmons. He’s a wise-cracking older guy who loves to joke about sex and drug use.
Uncle Joe Simmons is getting known for his brand of raunchy, sophomoric humor. In “Boo 2” Tyler Perry decided to take things one step further and really ramp up the sexual content of the jokes told by Uncle Joe Simmons. In fact, Simmons claims to have been a pimp in his prior life, and starts telling all kinds of jokes related to pimps and prostitution. He also jokes extensively about doing weed. That type of humor – almost taboo to be coming from an older grandpa – was a bit hit with audiences.
Of course, there has always been a “generation gap” between older and younger generations, and it looks like Tyler Perry has discovered how to use this formula for comedic success. He not only contrasts the older and younger generation (i.e. the relationship between the father Brian Simmons and his rebellious daughter Tiffany), but also the gap between the oldest members of the family – people like Madea, Aunt Bern and Hattie – and their children and grandchildren.
In short, there’s a remarkable mash-up of intergenerational struggles going on here, and audiences love it. First and foremost, the entire premise of this movie is that a young rebellious daughter (Tiffany, played by Diamond White) is planning to attend a rowdy frat party at Derrick Lake, against her father’s wishes. But the older members of the family, led by Madea, decide it’s their job to rescue Tiffany, especially after they find out that the location of the party is haunted by a number of horrific characters – including, potentially, a mass murderer.
if you think about it, there are really only two types of popular horror movies – the ones that are so scary that you’re afraid to see them alone, and the ones that are just goofy send-ups of those films. “Boo 2” is easily the goofy send-up of classic horror films. Zombies, bogeymen, goblins and spooky monsters – they’re all played for laughs by Madea and her crew of elderly women.
By now, audiences know all the classic horror theme motifs – the spooky cabin in the middle of the woods, the injured person by the side of the road who turns out to be a monster, the crazy chainsaw-wielding maniac lurking in the woods – and “Boo 2: A Madea Halloween” constantly has fun with them. They enjoy seeing Tyler Perry (as Madea Simmons and Uncle Joe Simmons) constantly riff on the all the biggest Halloween horror tropes in modern memory.
There are some Halloween traditions that are hard to explain – and one of them is the insatiable demand for horror film sequels that are almost identical to the previous version just a year earlier. It’s the reason why the “Saw” franchise always did so well for 7 consecutive years – movie-going audiences knew that there would always be a new, slightly scarier version coming out the following Halloween. That new film came every Halloween like clockwork, and audiences loved it.
Now, we may be seeing the same phenomenon with “Boo 2: A Madea Halloween.” Just as audiences flocked to movie cinemas to see “Boo: A Madea Halloween” just a year earlier, they are now flocking to see “Boo 2.” In fact, the bigger picture here is that filmmaker Tyler Perry has captured the market for holiday films – just look back at all the other films that he has produced that are also based around major holidays.
In short, it looks like “Boo: A Madea Halloween” is quickly becoming a major Halloween tradition with movie audiences. Don’t be surprised, then, if you begin to hear rumors of a new “Boo 3” coming to movie cinemas just in time for Halloween 2018.