The “Madea” film franchise has made creator Tyler Perry one of the richest men in Hollywood. In 2011, "Forbes" magazine placed Perry on the top of their list of highest earning male entertainers for the $130 million he made in 2011 alone. The heart of his empire is Mabel “Madea” Simmons, an older, exceptionally tall African-American woman who is quick to argue or pull out her gun, and has a long list of nineteen former husbands. Perry plays the part in drag, in spite of his 6’ 5” height, and originally created the part for a series of stage plays before adapting them to film.
In this filmed performance of a musical stage play, Madea attends her 50 year high school reunion with her equally eccentric friend, Mr. Brown. While getting into trouble with the law, Madea manages to help a couple resolve their marriage difficulties.
“Diary of a Mad Black Woman”
In this first adaptation for film, Madea’s granddaughter, Helen, gets thrown out of her house by her husband of 18 years, Charles, so that he can marry his mistress. Helen runs to Madea for help and they are soon under house arrest for their ill-advised attack on the couple. As with most Madea comedies, the broad comedy is balanced by life lessons.
“Madea's Family Reunion”
Bringing together the entire Simmons clan for this 2006 comedy, Madea tries to help her nieces with their dysfunctional relationships. Although Perry made the film for the relatively tiny budget of $6 million, the box office gross on just the opening weekend was over $30 million. The cast includes Blair Underwood, Cicely Tyson and Maya Angelou.
“Madea Goes to Jail”
Still flaunting her anti-social tendencies, Madea lands in jail after failing an anger management class. Her story is combined with that of a young prostitute, Candace (played by former “Cosby” kid, Keshia Knight Pulliam), who Madea meets in jail and helps to set a new course in life. The film opened at number one at the box office and eventually earned more than $90 million.
“I Can Do Bad All by Myself”
After stopping a home robbery, Madea tries to set the young criminals on a different path in this 2009 musical drama. Madea tracks down the kids only relative, April, a self-centered nightclub singer, and works her unique magic to bring the family together.
“Tyler Perry's Madea's Big Happy Family”
In this 2011 comedy-drama, Madea must inform a friend’s children of her terminal cancer, but the other family conflicts erupt at the gathering. It takes Madea’s harsh justice and “The Maury Povich Show” to settle all the family feuds.
“Madea's Witness Protection”
This upcoming release will be the seventh film in the Madea franchise. The story involves Madea taking in Eugene Levy of “Second City” fame, a financial schemer in the witness protection program, who will undoubtedly learn to change his crooked ways.