Tyler Perry tests box office draw with "Colored Girls"

Wed Nov 3, 2010 8:40am EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Filmmaker Tyler Perry has had no trouble claiming financial success when audiences flock to his comedies, but this week his box office pull will be tested with the dark drama, "For Colored Girls."

Currently America's most successful African American film director who often attaches his name to movies adapted from his own stage plays, Perry has raked in more than $450 million at box offices, mostly in the United States.

But his new movie, "For Colored Girls," opening on Friday, is far removed from the comedic fare for which he first gained fame, including "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Madea's Family Reunion.

"For Colored Girls" tackles issues such as abuse and abortion, and is adapted from poet and playwright Ntozake Shange's, "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf."

"This was the most intimidating work I have ever taken on," Perry told reporters in a recent news conference. "I walked away from it many times."

Yet the intertwining stories of nine women facing trials in their everyday lives kept pulling him back, and for his adaptation, Perry has updated the 1970s-era play with a film presentation of modern black women living in New York City who face troubling dilemmas and decisions.

Helping the movie's box office potential is its long roster of high-profile female actors and performers, including Janet Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Phylicia Rashad, Kerry Washington, Thandie Newton and Macy Gray.

But Carl DiOrio, a box office analyst for The Hollywood Reporter, said while pre-release interest was "high", the actresses alone were not enough to guarantee popularity.   Continued...

<p>Actor, director and producer Tyler Perry arrives for a special screening of "Why Did I Get Married Too?" at the Ritzy cinema, in Brixton, south London May 21, 2010. REUTERS/Paul Hackett</p>