By Erick Johnson
FORT McPHERSON, Ga – Madea would be so proud. Tyler Perry has outdone himself.
On his new, sprawling 330-acre studio complex in this Atlanta suburb, one can visit the White House, a classic, grand mansion in the Deep South, a lake cabin and a posh state-of-the art theater all within several minutes.
They are among many impressive film sets on the massive complex that will be the scene of Perry’s future films and those of other production companies. Other film sets include a charming historic residential district in the South, a farm, a classic diner, a coffee house, several courtrooms, a trailer park, a prison yard and church chapel. There’s even a Oval Office film set in the facility’s White House. Oh yeah, former President Bill Clinton was there for a grand inauguration of Perry’s cinematic masterpiece.
Tyler Perry Studios complex is said to be bigger than Disney, Paramount, Sony and Warner studios combined. It’s the first time in history that a Black man has owned a major film studio.
Perry’s newest studios wowed many of Hollywood’s biggest Black stars, whose turnout made the event seemed like a movie itself. But this was for real. As the champagne flowed, the bling on gowns and tailored suits sparkled. Never before had Black Hollywood had an event and venue that represented them and their culture. In Atlanta, the rising “Black Hollywood,” many beamed with pride. Lights, camera, action!
It was a dream came true for Perry who unveiled perhaps his most ambitious project of his career at a gala event on Saturday that included nearly every Black celebrity on the planet. Among the star-studded guests were Spike Lee, Tiffany Haddish, Samuel Jackson, Taraji Henson, Viola Davis, Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Cicely Tyson, Sidney Poitier, director Ava DuVernay, and so many others. Where was Madea? Was she at the impressive trailer park film set cussing a neighbor out? Or was Madea starting a fight on the set of the cozy Brown Bean coffee house?
There were plenty of Instagrams to mark the huge celebration for the $250 million studio. Beyonce said “she was moved to tears.”
Kelly Rowland tweeted, “I am so grateful to have witnessed Black Excellence, History, and Greatness! The ground we stood on, the room! And EVERYTHING this Lot represents! I am humbled, inspired, and so encouraged! Thank You for being a force!”
Perry’s complex, which contains 12 sound stages named after some of Hollywood’s biggest, Black performers, was built on a site that served as a Confederate army base during the American Civil War.
The new complex marks a major achievement for Perry, who started out as a struggling playwright who at times was homeless. In 2006, Perry became the first Black to open his own studio which was at another location in Atlanta.
Since then, Perry has become a noted actor, producer and director, whose 20 films have grossed more than $900 million domestically.
The weekend included a Sunday service and brunch, which also had many stars.