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What in the hell happened with For Colored Girls?

O.K. Megamind was No. 1 again with $26 million and Unstoppable was no. 2 with $24 million but the more interesting figure is the $6.8 million that For Colored Girls made this weekend.

Now of course all films fall off the following weeks of their release. A drop-off of 30% or less in the second week of release is considered very good, between 40-50% fair and anything over 50% is considered bad news. So it’s not great news for Tyler Perry and Lionsgate that FCG’s second weekend numbers dropped a whopping 65% from the previous week. That’s the biggest drop for any of his films and quite surprising.

That means that word-of-mouth for the film is dreadful. But why? Some theories…

Bad reviews – Are you kidding? When have bad reviews ever kept people from seeing a TP movie? In fact even though FCG did get some bad reviews, it also garnered some of the best reviews for any TP film so that doesn’t hold.

Too depressing – True, it’s definitely not a feel-good movie and then neither was Precious (even more so) and that did extremely well at the box office.

Bad marketing/ Too wide a release – Taking a tip from Precious perhaps FCG should have been rolled out slowly, city by city, theater by theater to get the word out that this wasn’t your typical TP movie to get people used to the idea, instead of the wide theatrical release that it got.

No Oprah push- Until Tambay pointed this out to me this weekend, I didn’t realize that Oprah did not devote an entire show to the film. I simply assumed that she had. Why didn’t she? Instead she devoted two complete shows with Perry and the trauma of male child molestation. What does that have to do with the movie? Maybe she really doesn’t like the film (though at one time she was supposed to play Phylicia Rashad’s part in the movie)

It wasn’t what people expected - Perhaps the most likely answer is that people went in expecting to see  another typical TP movie and instead got something a whole lot more strange and difficult to grasp. And keeping in mind that Ntozake Shange’s work is now 35 years old, and that there are many people not familiar with it, the jarring transitions from dialogue to poetry were too weird, and the relentless grimness was too much, and made them uncomfortable.

However the worst thing is that the b.o. disappointment for FCG will inevitably means one sure thing…more Madea! What’s your take?

74 comments to What in the hell happened with For Colored Girls?

  • invisiblewoman

    very observant mr. mimms. but that statistic is pretty surprising, though.

  • TreaAndrea Russworm

    Hi Sergio!! It’s been a long time…. Anyway, I defer to my mother on all things Tyler Perry because she has seen most of his stuff and she said she’s not seeing it because she heard that it is too depressing. I told her I found it to be a comedy (true!) but she’s going with the popular reading of it as depressing; she didn’t want to go to the movies for another downer. I think she’s going to wait for DVD. Maybe. TP can’t give black women a Waiting to Exhale viewing experience and maybe that’s what his base wants right now? I do hope that after the Oprah appearance he is on his way to moving past these themes of incest, violence, and black female emotional drag (at least on film). Anyhow, I dig your column! :)

  • I agree with all of your observations!

    We say we want more avant garde films made by black filmmakers, but there’s not always an appetite for it. Also, I think the film would be considered an “arthouse” release even if it had been a story with white characters, and arthouse releases are always hard for mainstream audiences to grasp without a hugely expensive marketing plan (unless its the horror genre).

    • Britt

      My sentiments EXACTLY! People were not ready for the depth that TP took it. I saw the movie with a friend and after paying 10 dollars for it she wanted to leave during the middle of it. If you take a movie like this for face value then of course people are going to be uncomfortable and think its depressing. The film was much more than that.

      • Synthia

        Depth? Is that a joke?

        Or are you using “depth” as a synonym for plotholes, puzzling anachronisms, mimicry, offensively diluted feminism, and troubled execution?

    • Synthia

      There is nothing avant garde or arthouse about this movie. It was pretentiously trying to live up to those designations, however.

  • Whoever chose to release “For Colored Girls” on Nov. 5th essentially buried the film after its opening weekend.

    Positioning a niche movie characterized by extremely sad portrayals of Black woman victimhood as interpreted by Tyler Perry against a wide-released Hollywood movie featuring crashing freight trains, swerving Chevy trucks, guitar music and oh, Denzel Washington.

    Good idea.

  • tim graham

    I don’t know what can be said? it seemed like everyone I talked to that’s seen it was pleased. I saw it the weekend it came out and a really good friend of mine seen it on a tuesday so why the drop? well I will tell you after the opening weekend I saw no more ad’s on it whatsoever! however I’m hoping it is doing well enough for people not to be afraid of material like this! because I really loved it. I would even go see it again. and def buying it on dvd.


    If Tyler Perry’s name wasn’t on this movie it would have never made as much money as it did.

    That said, this is the first film were males were actively repelled from movie theatres. Usually men go to see his films either to please their date or because they find Tyler entertaining. But the overall depressing tone and anti-male sentiment hurt his numbers.

    There will be no Oscar nominations for best film to lift the box office up later. Maybe for one of the ladies in the supporting catagory because Lionsgate knows how to launch a savvy campaign, but that’s it.

    Tyler will be making movies in dresses for the forseeable future.

  • Can’t “all of the above” be a choice?

  • One thing that “Precious” had going for it that “For Colored Girls” didn’t, was lots of critical acclaim leading up to its release. “Precious” had played Sundance, Cannes, Toronto and the New York Film Festival (4 of the most prestigious festivals in the world) and even won awards along the way.

    And with that kind of acclaim prior to its release, the film attracted audiences that it likely wouldn’t have attracted otherwise (white audiences especially).

    “For Colored Girls” had virtually none of that, and I think that could have made some difference.

    • blakdiamon

      Yeah, white audiences weren’t really interested. These two Oscar Bloggers (Anne Thompson and Kris Tapley) refused to talk about it because they were offended they were invited to a pre-screening. Talk about entitlement!

      His typical fanbase wasn’t interested as much either. My sister is one of those “Tyler Perry woman fans” that Sergio loves to tease. She said she didn’t want to see it because it would be too tough like Precious. I personally think this film was a walk in the park compared to Precious.

  • carl

    Hi, Sergio, love your writings. I agree that the film was released at the worst time, a platform strategy would have been much more sufficient, but you missed a very big point that was critical to the success of Precious that did not apply to FCG. The White Box Office dollar. The White Box office dollar was a dominant chunk for that film. Precious made liberal white people thankful that they weren’t black. FCG depended predominantly on the box office dollar of, well, Colored Girls, and the men that consider themselves colored girls. A date movie this isn’t. Also, people were quietly rooting for TP to fail. He has had nothing but success with his films, plays and tv shows and folks felt it waa time for him to be “grounded.”

    • “Also, people were quietly rooting for TP to fail. He has had nothing but success with his films, plays and tv shows and folks felt it waa time for him to be “grounded.”

      Carl, I don’t know about that statement? What real movie fan wants a movie to fail? The people you are speaking of, probably never paid to see a Tyler Perry movie, so their money was never part of the pot. I mean really, what person holds their money so Tyler will “fail”?

      Grounded? So now he’s grounded? What, he learned his lesson, so he’s going to get up from the ground and do what?

  • Well Sergio, since you asked the question (and I think you know the answer)i’m gonna tell it like it should be told. Your list should only include… it wasn’t a good movie. Yeah, I said it, I give the movie 2 stars. Had Shange’s words been removed, I would give it a flat-line. Her words were the most compelling parts of the whole movie.

    Listen, when you broke through the door with your short comment on Unstoppable, you said it was a thrilling ride, or something to that affect. But check this, as word of mouth goes, what words could you use to inspire a person to see FCG? What… inspiring, exciting, a thrill ride, a great love story, enlighting, extraordinary, funny as hell… what?

    On top of that, as I’ve been reading several comments concerning FCG, I’ve noticed a common theme. Many are saying it was a male bashing movie, but (imo) they missed the point. If one really listened to the poems (and words), they would find the real jewel. One scene stuck out in my mind. Phylicia Rashad entered Kimberly Elise’s (Crystal) apartment. Crystal had just lost her children, and was in a very depressed state. Rashad open the blinds to a darked apartment and said, ” What is your plan, what you gonna do baby. You gonna just lay here and die? It wasn’t just him honey.[Crystal] “but I tried to stop him” Rashad: You had to stop him long before he got to that window.

    [Crystal] Are you saying it’s my fault?

    Rashad: “What I’m saying Crystal, you gonna have to take responsibility for some of this. How much of it you take is up to you, but you gotta take some of it. Until you do, you just gonna be living to die. I know it hurts, but you gotta get up from here. [Crystal] “But it didn’t save my babies”

    Rashad: “Then save some other woman’s babies, help another woman who is missing what you’re missing. There’s to much life wrapped in your voice. You gotta get up!” (I believe Tyler wrote those lines)

    That dialog spoke to the message “clean your side of the street”

    This movie was not about male bashing. It was about self-discovery. Look at Tangie’s whorish, trampish, nasty ass. Was that male bashing?

    Let me continue. In Anika Noni Rose’s (Yasmine) scene at the hospital, another message spoke loud and clear… “the stranger, is not always “the stranger”

    Sergio, I can go and on highlighting wonderful parts of the movie, but I don’t know why I would tell another person to see it. I think that’s one of the biggest problems associated with it’s low box office. How does a person describe this movie to another person, that would inspire them (not a Tyler groupie) to drop their money?

    • Carey I disagree with what you’re saying as well. Quality movies and box office success are not exclusive and For Colored Girls had an A cinemascore!

      • Marissa, are you saying a “quality” movie does not gaurantee box office success. Sure, if so, I agree with that (who wouldn’t), but I don’t understand why you are disagreeing with my comment. I mean, what’s the correlation between my remarks and an “A” cinemascore?

  • NothingButAMan

    I don’t find this falloff surprising; this was not an “arthouse” release in the true sense (touted by critics/festivals, built up in the public eye w/ a platform release, etc.) Everything about this adaptation “played to the middle” of his fanbase, and as wide as Lionsgate opens TP’s films, last weekend’s PTA of $9,167 (better than Daddy’s Little Girls and The Family That Preys) was gonna be the best he could do. He may not break $40 mill, but why should he care when he already made his production budget back?

  • The reason should be obvious. MOST PEOPLE go to see movies to escape their everyday lives and problems, it’s a form of escapism. People do not want to be reminded of their real world issues, they prefer easy to swallow entertainment. I think people (myself included) had such high box office expectations because of his built in fan base, but I feel some were probably turned off by the mature themes.

    And Sergio I wish you would so some more research before you go on your anti-Tyler Perry rampages. Saying Precious performed extremely well is a gross exaggeration. Despite a years worth of hype due to rave reviews at film festivals and several Oscar nominations in major categories, that movie only grossed 47 million after it’s limited and several wide release runs in the United States.

    And a 60%+ drop is not uncommon for Tyler Perry movies. Why Did I Get Married Too, Madea Goes To Jail and Meet The Browns all had similar, 60%+ drops. His movies are not blockbusters, but they usually make quite a bit of profit because they’re not costly films. It’s strange that the media is trying to make this out to be some epic failure when it only grossed a few million less than his average and will top out around a few million shy of his 55-60 million average gross as well. And sad that you’re blindly following like some sheep. You will listen to anything that fat white woman says on Deadline.com. Do some research next time and form YOUR OWN opinion.

    • Excuse me Marrisa, but maybe you should practice what you preach. Didn’t you boldly tell Sergio to form his own opinion? Well, what’s this…

      “MOST PEOPLE go to see movies to escape their everyday lives and problems, it’s a form of escapism. People do not want to be reminded of their real world issues, they prefer easy to swallow entertainment”

      Now come on, do you want a do-over? I mean, I don’t go to movies to escape my everyday life. I believe most people go to movies as another form of entertainment. You know,another form of entertainment like a club, a movie, a sporting event, visiting grandma, reading a book, watching TV, sitting in the park, etc.

      So, when you said “people” do not want to be reminded of their real life issues, who are you speaking for, or where did you hear that?

      Heck,under your ideaology, most movies would never be made. And most books would be cast in the fire.

    • brandi

      Precious made $62,881,147, its budget was $10 mill.

  • Zeus

    That’s right. Get mad at Sergio because the film TANKED. :)

  • Renee

    It was not what most people would look for or expect in a TP movie. I went with a friend and her goddaughter. After leaving the movie she said she felt depressed mainly from the scene where Crystal lost her babies. I left the theater a little depressed and upset as well. The things that happened in this movie happens in everyday life. I came away from the movie thinking some of the events in the movie could have been prevented if only the women wouild have would have opened their eyes to what was happening around them.

    I agree with Carl, the scene between Rashad and Crystal spoke volumes as well as the scene with Yasmine.

    Crystal, knew she should have left her kids father. She knew he was not well mentally but she was still holding on hoping for a change and in the end she lost her kids because she could not or would not leave. The social worker was too concerned with finding out why she couldn’t give her husband a baby to follow up. There was no way she should have left those kids there with the way the kids father performed.

    Janet Jacksons, character knew her husband was into men but she chose to turn a blind eye to what was going on around her until she had no choice but to face it head on.

    What happened with Yasmine is something that can happen to anyone. You meet someone you’re attracted to and go out with them have a great time and think it’s okay to invite them over for dinner not thinking that this person would violate you.

    My thoughts are all over the place with this movies.. I will say the poetry was great. Some of the scenes were thought provoking. I found myself talking to the characters as if they could hear me.

    • Renee, it’s wonderful that you caught the subtle messages underneath all the drama. It the field of domestic abuse, it’s a real thin line between blame and acceptance. Many times the victims blames themselves for their mates behavior, Consequently, that type of blame might keep them in a sour relationship. Yet, acceptance is more about looking back to heal the wounds.

      Each of the women had something they needed to work on. Loretta Devine was a lonely chick. Her man packed his bags every other day, but see kept opening the door. Who’s fault is that?

      Tangie said, “I survive on intimacy”. Wow! I wonder how true that is for many of us.

      Whoopie passed down her pain to her children.

      But did Janet really know?

  • Teresa

    A Tyler Perry film is not an arthouse experience. In addition to plagiarized and banal writing, he traffics in broad stereotypes. There are those who appreciate this type of movie. I, for one, do not. I was frankly appalled to learn that he was producing, directing, For Colored Girls because given his track record, there was no way that he could do justice to this classic choreopoem. For those who have not read the original work, I encourage you to do so.

  • Yawl will have to excuse me, but I got fired up about this whole Tyler Perry conversation. So much so, I had to write a post about it. In the comment section, I’ve taken a few hits. One guy left a damn “book” of comments. It appears as if he would not give Tyler Perry the sweat off his balls if he was dying of thirst.

    HERE: http://careycarey-carrymehome.blogspot.com/

  • Judy

    To be honest, what keeps me from seeing this film is the subject matter and the negative portrayals of black men. I know that it is important to bring these issues to light, and that the issues portrayed within the various vignettes mirror what happens in our community, but I don’t want to pay to see dysfunctional relationships. As a woman and as a mother of a black boy, I want to see more positive images of black men on the screen. I guess that is why I prefer Spike Lee to Tyler Perry.

  • sunshine

    This piece of work was valid in the 70′s and it was done with unknowns and they only had colors. There was no names no husbands no real children. So the audience was left with their imaginations to fill in the blanks. I am really tired of the same black actress in all of his movies. He is doing essentially the same thing that white Hollywood producers do by hiring the same people over and over again. They simply do not bring anything different to the table. I love Loretta but her voice alone brings the same seasoning. Leave the theater in the theater. It was not supposed to be a film and why he thinks he is God like and can bring anything to life, he has learned a very valuable lesson. Meet the Browns and the House of Pain is truly painful and has put us back 100 years with it’s fat characters and Mammy like flavor. It was funny in the theater but on the screen it is an insult. This will not put a dent in Tylers wall. He. like all directors is entitled to having a bad film here and there. We just love to see folks fail. Carry on Tyler! You have made me laugh and cry with some or your films, this just wasn’t one of them. Art should be an escape, there are wonderful new scripts out there, search for them.

  • T. Whiner

    …And folks were watching this thing on bootlegged copies this weekend! When asked to join them, I declined because as a rule, I do NOT steal anyone’s work. But you know how your people are…

  • Angel

    Let me start off by saying, I am NOT a major Tyler fan however, I appreciated his efforts in “mainstreaming” For Colored Girls. I would like to make a few statements:

    Unfortunately, I do feel TP is one of the few leading men that can bring a cross over appeal audience that would bring major attention to FCG. I’m 37 and grow up reading For Color Girls poems. Lady in Red was the most popular however, my sister in her early 40′s never read any of Ntozake Shange’s poems let alone even heard of her (sad but true). My point is, I don’t think he had a large audience from the get go. Many people who know about her work were either in the arts and was expose to it, a feminist or conscious to great literature.

    If you walk away with believing the film was about male bashing, then you totally missed the point. If you said, Tyler played into the misconceptions of brothers on the DL giving Black Women HIV/AIDS then I would understand. But I don’t want to get into to that debut. Take a moment to read over the CDC.gov report.

    Selflove – the end = For Colored Girls

    To stick to the question, why did the box office drop… simply because the majority of people (who are not TP fans) probably went on poor reviews instead of seeing for themselves but why would they if they are not TP fans and never heard of Ntozake Shange? Also add to the if you did see the film, as someone said above, how would you describe it to another person? I would simply say, it’s a drama about women dealing with life the best way they can believing there is hope for a better tomorrow.

    It’s a new day in cinema and even though I have my mixed reviews on it (should have been directed by a woman, or why wasn’t Nzinga version of the screenplay picked), cinema, the way we know it has shifted.

  • Jay

    Stumbling here from TheRoot.com….

    I pick you last reason. It’s the left field, melodramatic overly-intellectual maudlin material. Word got out that this was something beyond “Madea” — some deep ish you’ve got to pay attention to to

    From a marketing perspective, frankly I think they’ve missed the boat initially by trying to positioned For Colored Girls as some kind of Black “classic.” Yes it is definitely representative of an era, but really who other than Spellman, Berkeley, Seven Sister, Ivy League, Black Arts and liberal hipsters types from 70s and 80s even read it or saw it performed somewhere? Even with Perry-esque righteousness and saccharine, its themes and its cadences seem so dated, that it could only work as subtle reflective re-interpretation or parody. Perry, I suspect is going for some emotionalism that just isn’t resonating the way his typical formula does.

    Kudos to him though for bringing it to the screen. Shange is going to be rediscovered by a new generation. Can’t fought him for that.

  • antiyt

    This is strictly with an ideology that matches the tea party’s view of black males. It uses the black to mask the viewpoint. This movie and precious represents the culture cold war against black males similar to the government sponsored cold war against eastern europe

    • antiyt, taint right.


      In the words of Mike Tyson… That’s ludicrous!

      But maybe I missed something. What are you referring to?

    • pinksghetti

      The mother in Precious was horrible too. And as I wrote below I saw “Daddy’s Little Girls” and the mom in that movie was really evil too. But I know that not too many people get upset over BW being bashed *shrug* I agree though that media perpetuates negative stereotypes on purpose to brainwash people to believe bad things about other people and to make these same people believe bad things about themselves.

  • carl

    Carey Carey, believe it or not there are a lot of people of color that quietly want Tyler to fail. See, your thinking filmgoers, and I am speaking of people of color in the film industry that have watched his meteroric rise to the top of the Black entertainment food chain in less than five years. These people have to respect his box office revenues but cringe at his lack of craftsmanship and poor quality of cinema. And they root for him to fail in subtle ways, blogs, negative word of mouth etc. I’m no fan but I have to respect his impact money wise. Because that is what the industry focuses on. The money. That is why he is so powerful.

    When I used the term “grounded” I was using it as a realization to Tyler that his midas touch has limitations.

  • blkchik

    Tyler didn’t update the story other than that tired DL storyline thats been done a million times in the last 5 years. And why in the world did he not update the abortion issue, like c’mon Tyler that was stupid azz hale to have a back alley abortion in NY, in 2010!

  • pinksghetti

    I think Precious beat him to the punch. I’m thinking most people only want to see movies with these types of subjects every 5 to 10 years and their fill was last year. Unfortunately from the blogs I’ve read FCG was kind of divisive among men and women which is the last thing we need in our communities. I have no issues with Tyler Perry for his brand of hustle but maybe it’s best thins movie didn’t do to well *shrug*. BTW, I watched “Daddy’s Little Girls” and “Meet the Browns” on TNT yesterday. Ummm, they were ok and stuff but nothing to write home about though I liked “Meet the Browns” better because at least it was funny but Idris was nice to look at and the daughters were cute.

  • Allanya74

    The movie was supposed to be released in January 2011 but was pushed up to November 2010. Bad move because the movie should be doing better than this. Now with Harry Potter and other holiday films coming out soon For Colored Girls might get pushed under the rug. I personally enjoyed the film…

  • Sky96

    I didn’t like it when it was originally done, 35 years ago. The play, now movie had an extreme and I believe unnecessarily harsh view of Black men. It portrayed the worst of us, as kind of the norm. As such, it had a very depressing tone. Even though it’s about Black women liberating themselves, I believe it tended too often to pit Black women against Black men. Not exactly a “date play” so I can’t see how it would be any better as a “date movie.” I believe there are simply better pieces of Black literature I’d like to see make to the silver screen.

  • I agree with Judy. Why should we finance our own dysfunction and distruction. Bad enough we and our children are bombarded with the negative images daily via the news media, music videos etc. When people around the world see this film, (along with all of the other negative images from the above), there would be no outcry when they roll into our communities to slaughter us. We are being setup ya’ll. Precious, The Scottsburough boys and now For Colored Girls. They want to portray us as savages to the world in order to justify killing us. Remember they want their country back!!!

    I read an on line interview where TP said that he did not want to do this film, but after being approached five times about it, he gave in. For the interview check out these sites. I forget which one. The Grio, News One, Blackelectorate.com or Theroot.com

    • Excuse me, but I’ve had enough. @ Born Free & sky96. have yawl lost your damn mind?

      Take a look at this and then take a sip at what follows.

      “ESSENCE.com: You’ve expressed that you want to set the record straight about how Black men are portrayed in “For Colored Girls.” What does setting the record straight mean?

      MICHAEL EALY: I think that if you say this movie is male bashing, you’re not looking at the bigger picture. Yeah there are some men with problems in the piece and if you did notice, yes, Hill Harper is one good man. But this is a play by women, by a woman. And it’s not like Tyler [Perry] or anyone else wrote the script that had all these men with problems. In my opinion the bigger picture is that the issues that were applicable in the mid ’70s when the play was on Broadway, are still plaguing our women and our children right now. The bigger issue is that the piece is timeless. And if you’re a man who is HANDLING YOUR BUSINESS then you know this doesn’t apply to you. This isn’t a film that showcases men; this is a film that showcases the triumph of our women.”

      Now sip this like 50 other people from Shadow and Act (that have already gone before you)

      The title is, To My Nay-Say Negro Friends of Tyler Perry And For Colored Girls

      Gosh, cop a clue… HERE: http://careycarey-carrymehome.blogspot.com/

    • If they wanted to “portray us as savages” Can’t they just show everyone the videos on worldstarhiphop.com. I think fools with video phones are doing a fine job of putting black Americans in a bad light.

  • Negre Marron

    Would anybody pay to see Sylvester Stallone in a dramatic lead role?

    Pay to see James Earl Jones in an action comedy?

    THAT’S what happened to the second week gross for FCG.

    The people who were aware of the play, would probably have preferred an art house independent film by a person with a track record of doing similar films.

    The people who are TP’s base, are probably more comfortable seeing his “normal” films.

    Can’t market a film simultaneously to the art house crowd and the traveling gospel play crowd and expect success.

  • msblkwidow

    y daughters went to see For Colored Girls…on 11/13/10. They purchased their tickets but were given tickets to another movie. They didn’t realize this so-called mixup until they had left the movie theater and was on their way home. Now I ask, was this an unfortunate mixup or did something more sinister happen? Did the cashier knowingly give them the wrong tickets? My daughters are very upset because they realize the importance of the sales of movie tickets on opening night, the first week and the weeks thereafter. I did tell them that I would share their story on blogs throughout the Internet and of course to my email contacts. Please do the same. Buyers beware! When you purchase a movie ticket, make sure the ticket you receive is to the movie of your choice.

  • Keith

    Just wanted to weigh in as a black man who saw the play performed as an undergraduate and also enjoyed the film. I think it’s a shame that black men continue to whine and use the subject matter as a reason to not see a good (albeit not perfect) movie. I applaud Tyler’s hustle and hubris, hope that Anika Rose gets a nomination and that the film sees a revenue boost from DVD. Black folks are so triflin’….I also agree with the poster that said black folk want to see Tyler fail.

  • raqz sharqi

    This reminds me of the Minister’s Saviour’s Day speech in Los Angeles.

  • SF Harry

    It didn’t make money because it came out in the middle of football season and Black men are refusing to see another movie that dogs them out. The movie’s defenders are saying that Black men don’t get what the movie is about and that it’s a woman’s story. Yes, and Black men are saying that if they want to see a brother get dogged out, all they have to do is turn Fox to see those fools blast Obama all day long. Given a choice, the brothers are telling the sisters to go see For Colored Girls, but they were either going to stay home and watch football or Denzil’s new movie.

  • Sergio,

    C’mon MAN…. even Stevie Wonder with a cracked crystal ball could have seen it coming.

    Aside from my own hangups with Tyler Perry’s formulaic approach to most of his films, I can safely say that this looks like it was probably Perry’s best major motion picture to date.

    That said, I can sum up the answer to your question in a word: “Bootleggers”.

    Here’s a challenge for anyone reading this that is living in an area with more than 10 Black people: the next time you’re in a Black barbershop or salon, ask about who is selling the “For Colored Girls” DVD. If you aren’t able to buy a copy right there, someone in earshot will speak up and give you a name or two of “who holdin’ it” — and they definitely ain’t workin’ for Netflix. ;-)

  • L Joy

    This is truly interesting, but I am not exactly surprised that people aren’t jazzed by this piece being re-imagined as a film by Tyler Perry. While I don’t think we need to bash Tyler Perry for attempting to do this film, one thing that has not been addressed is the fact that Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem is still vibrant as a theatre and literary piece after 35 years. The book For Colored Girls just went back on the NY Times Bestseller list. Some folks, like myself, had extreme reservations and some disappointments that the right to do this film was not handed to a Black female director. I also find Tyler Perry extremely similar to the late Frank Capra who created movies with clearly defined two-dimensional villains and two-dimensional heroes. Capra and Perry create/d entertainment that allowed audiences to escape. We all know in real life heroes are often deeply flawed and many villains have a few redeeming qualities.

    FYI: Tyler Perry came to see Jasmine Guy’s phenomenal direction and interpretation of this piece for Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company. I saw Tyler in the audience twice, and on one occasion he was present with Janet Jackson. I also think that there are times when an all-star cast can be a bit of a turnoff.

    However, I stand by the same position that I held the day I learned that Perry had received the green light from Lion’s Gate: For Colored Girls… belongs on the stage, period– Just like “Beloved” should never have been anything but a book by Toni Morrison. You have to damn near be a genius to take character-driven novels or theatre pieces and transform them to film. Film is almost always plot driven. When directors step outside of that formula they should be prepared for a limited audience.

    • Ms. L Joy, based on your short(but fact filled) comment, you’re the type of person I would pay to have a conversation with. Really, I would pick your mind until you told me to go home.

      I loved the way you said the following…

      “We all know in real life heroes are often deeply flawed and many villains have a few redeeming qualities”

      In relation to FCG, there’s so much to say in those words and I’d ask for more. Futhermore, when you mentioned the difficulties associated with using an ensemble cast, I knew you knew what you were talking about. And again, I’d say, come on, give me more, talk to me. It’s very rare that movies comprised of more than, maybe, 4 “top stars”, each given more than a cameo role, reaches a level that would be considered a great film.

      And then…. THEN when you hit us with Tyler’s appearance at “Jasmine Guy’s phenomenal direction and interpretation of this piece for Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company” I knew you were someone to listen to. Again, I’d say, come on baby let me buy you dinner, I want to hear more. I don’t know when Tyler and Janet visted, but I wonder if he was researching the play to see if he could do it (and what actors to use) or if he was using the play as a way to tudor Janet?

      But wait, you were not done. You closed your comment with…

      “For Colored Girls… belongs on the stage, period– Just like “Beloved” should never have been anything but a book by Toni Morrison. You have to damn near be a genius to take character-driven novels or theatre pieces and transform them to film”

      See Ms. Joy, again you’ve left the door open and I want to know more. You obviously have a connection to film and/or theatre because your words say so. You are not a casual film buff that gives their opinion without supporting information, so as Marvin Gaye said, “What’s going on”? Talk to me… please. :-)

  • It depends on the “origin” of that formula, weather it is Hollywood derived, or contrived, just take a glossary look@ European-pace films and how novels like Victor Hugo,Balzac,Marcel Pagnol etc…were transform into viable films. it all boils down to the marriage between the material and director sensibilities- french director-Claude Berri,did a yeomans job on adapting an abundance of french novels-Germinal,Manon of the Spring,Jean de Florette;Jean luc Godard adapting Guy de Maupassant; lousy actor-ben affleck adapted novelist chuck hogan’s”The Town”;David Ficther adapting-chuck palahuniuk’s Fight Club;direcotr richard linklater adaptation of novelist robert kaplow’s Me and Orson Welles etc…as for the limitation,well? we can all go to netflix.

  • TP this time suffered the same catastrophe as his friend and colleague, Ms. Winfrey when she took Beloved from novel to the screen. Remember, Beloved the film was NOT well received and Winfrey subsequently admitted that trying to transfer some of the allegorical themes of Morrison to film just didn’t work, i.e., people hated her baby (the film), she said. Shange’s deep and meaningful work just may not have been meant for a big screen re-write? I agree with previous commenter that a 35 yr old play may be lost on some of the less informed movie goers used to TP’s Madea!

  • L Joy


    You are much too kind. I do have family and friends in film and theatre. I am a doctoral student of History. And I am doing some research on theatre history. I’m typically inside a theatre to see stage plays on average about 15 or 16 times a year. I’M GOING TO GIVE YOU A LITTLE BIT MORE (smile). With that said, I think Tyler Perry understands that there is only so far he can take his “Madea” films before his core audience grows weary of them. I also suspect that Perry has listened to some of his critics perhaps more than he should have. While his films have always had a certain predictability to them, I think that most of us occasionally enjoy a bit of predictability. It helps us escape. And let’s face it–sometimes you just don’t feel like watching anything too heavy all of the time. The only problem is that predictability also gets old.

    I think Perry’s attempts to demonstrate that he can do “serious” cinema may have backfired in some quarters as “For Colored Girls…” as a stage piece does not have a real linearity; and the piece is one subject to interpretation. I saw “For Colored Girls…” with LaTanya Richardson-Jackson as the ‘Lady in Red’ when she came home to Atlanta to perform the piece for the Alliance Theatre back in 1980. It was a dark and depressing piece in 1980. Jasmine Guy kept the piece’s original qualities, but she brightened it at the end by adding an exuberant running exit where all of the women cheered, danced to Mary J Blige, and then ran off the stage, colors streaming through the audience. The women had been through hell, but they would ultimately survive. Their suffering had been redemptive. Several folks who saw the original “For Colored Girls…” felt Guy’s production surpassed the original.

    Personally, I think Perry should have used unknown or less well known actors. The Atlanta cast used by Guy would have been phenomenal. I watched Crystal Fox weep real tears during four different performances that made me weep each and every time as if I were watching her for the first time. However, I suspect the real problem for Perry may be his trying to mix apples and oranges. He clearly is comfortable with his formula films. I’m not angry at him; he keeps a lot of brothers and sisters working. Yet “For Colored Girls…” cannot be easily reduced to formula because Shange designed the choreopoem to be interpreted in any number of ways. On stage it engages an audience the way film never can.

    As a cousin of mine said so eloquently, “Theatre humbles you.” There are no second takes and no performance is exactly the same. The actors and the audience are right there in the same room. I have seen actors ad lib with perfection or correct a mistake without anyone knowing a mistake took place. “For Colored Girls…” naturally resonates on stage because it was never designed to maintain the distance that film creates between actor and audience. Trying to recreate that intense emotion on film would be a challenge for the most experienced director and/or screenwriter.

    There will be those folks who are going to give Perry the benefit of the doubt and appreciate his effort. I certainly wish him the best. But there are going to be those folks who will be unable to overlook the film’s shortcomings precisely because Perry chose to tackle a “theatre classic” that has some recurring themes, but never had a real plot. And he is not the first person to make a film version of “For Colored Girls…” But you’ve never heard anyone say much about those other film versions either.

    • Joy, I knew it! I knew you had much more to say. And, thank you, you did a splendid job.

      “For Colored Girls… naturally resonates on stage because it was never designed to maintain the distance that film creates between actor and audience. Trying to recreate that intense emotion on film would be a challenge for the most experienced director and/or screenwriter”

      That just about says it all. And since you’re so good at what you do, I have one more request/question.

      “I’m typically inside a theatre to see stage plays on average about 15 or 16 times a year”

      Okay, I am flying to Atlanta over the Christmas holidays. 21 DEC thru 4 Jan 2011. My daughter wants me to see Frankie Beverly & Teena Marie, and/or Charlie Wilson, but I am not really feeling Teena Marie, and Charlie Wilson was part of the Essence Music Festival (was there, saw him and others). So, I’d like to turn her on to a nice theatrical production. Any suggestions?

  • L Joy

    Take her to True Colors Theatre Company’s production of Langston Hughes’ “Black Nativity.” But hurry, this show runs from Nov. 23 to Dec. 30th and the tickets typically sell briskly. Go to http://truecolorstheatre.org/and safely order your tickets online. If that doesn’t work for your schedule, Horizon Theatre Company and Theatrical Outfit all do some seriously funny and fun Xmas shows for a variety of ages and audiences. Visit: http://www.horizontheatre.com/ and call the box office there (It is open from 12 noon to 5 PM, Tues-Sat). And you can also check out “A Christmas Memory” at Theatrical Outfit. Visit: http://www.theatricaloutfit.org/season.html for more information. But between you and me “Black Nativity” is the show to see. Enjoy yourself!!

    • Damn Joy, can you cook too! :-)

      You are a wealth of information. Thank you so much. My daughter is going to be so proud of her daddy. And, I don’t have to sit through Teena Marie without Rick James. No Fire and no desire.

      I don’t know anything about the play, but if you say go, I am on my way. And I love Langston Hughe’s. Well, not his voice, he sounds kinda… ah, what should I say, “not Barry White-ish”, something like Sergio’s :-)

      Btw, I believe my daughter live close to you. We don’t want to let all our business in the street, but the speed way is close to her home.

  • L Joy

    “Black Nativity” is a rousing production that gets better as it goes along. The first act is fabulous; the second half raises the rafters. FYI: I try to stay out of the kitchen as much as possible (LOL). Gotta get back to these students and final papers–Have a great time and a fabulous holiday season!

  • Naima

    a few things:

    1 maybe it wasn’t a good movie – just because people say we supposed to like it don’t mean we will;
    2) maybe tp really was overwrought as usual and out of his depth with this material — he could stand to dial it back a notch or two with his own material;
    3) maybe fcg is best as a theatre piece modernized a la jasmine guy who as a dancer and an actor and a writer and a black woman knows a few things about mounting a choreopoem about black women who used to be colored girls…
    5) maybe he should stay in his lane. plenty people love madea, the browns, doing bad and alla’ dat!
    6) and maybe the movie public is fickle: they like what they like and do what they do.
    7) maybe he oughta get up offa black women and write what he know – we could use something about a black man or men who considered suicide after he/they had been molested and hung out to dry by mama ‘nem.

    anyway, my friend (black, female, intelligent, culturally sophisticated to the point of being avant garde, generous and compassionate toward all human beings) said she had to go home and lay down after she saw it.

  • Too depressing – True, it’s definitely not a feel-good movie and then neither was Precious (even more so) and that did extremely well at the box office.” — Sergio

    Also, Precious‘ negative cost was half that of FCG. They could do about the same at the box office and still Precious would be considered a success over FCG.

    “Maybe she really doesn’t like the film (though at one time she was supposed to play Phylicia Rashad’s part in the movie)” — Sergio

    Could you blame Oprah? This film wasn’t good at all.

  • Liz

    My questions is, when was the movie released? I thought it was released 2 weeks ago? I can’t find it in any theatre near me… what in the world? was it just not that good?

  • apples

    so, we only want to see baffoonery and comedies on stage and film? i give black people more credit than that. and as long as sistas (and brothas) are being raped, contracting hiv/aids and other sti’s we need to talk about it and see it.

  • Maria

    It’s unfortunate that the movie did not get the kudos that it should have gotten, but I think it is possibe that those who appreciate the book and play will purchase it for their video library. No, the book, play and movie are not about male bashing. It’s more about what happens when people, who for many reasons, never have the opportunity to learn what their entitlements are as human beings. I personally loved the use of Loretta Devine’s lyrical voice for “Somebody Almost Walked Away With All Of My Stuff”. For those who think it places culture or ethnicity in a bad light? You are taking too much responsibility for other people’s ignorance and stupidity… besides the ignorant I reference are not likely to want to access this movie anyway.

  • Jason

    I look on Twitter and see all these Black females watching FCG all day and I have to be concerned about the need for therapy in the community.