SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- LIONSGATE® (NYSE: LGF), a leading global entertainment company, together with Tyler Perry, today announced the commencement of production of MADEA'S WITNESS PROTECTION. The film marks the prolific filmmaker and multi-media tycoon's 14th feature film production with Lionsgate in seven years. The announcement was made by Perry with Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger, co-Presidents of Lionsgate's Motion Picture Group.
Comic legend Eugene Levy (the AMERICAN PIE franchise, BEST IN SHOW) stars in the film as George, a high level CFO at the center of a Ponzi scheme in New York City who is enrolled in the Witness Protection program along with his family in the one place that absolutely no one will think to look for them: Madea's house down South. Perry wrote the script, is directing and producing the film, and will reprise three of his best loved roles – as tough talking grandma Madea, as Madea's indelicate cousin Joe, and as plain-spoken attorney Brian, who places the family with Madea, resulting in the hilarious scenario that unfolds under her roof.
Rounding out the cast are Emmy®-winning actress Doris Roberts as George's mother, Tom Arnold as his business associate Walter, Denise Richards as his younger wife Kate, and Danielle Campbell and Devan Leos as the family's youngsters – for whom Madea has plenty of valuable lessons lined up. Actor and rapper Romeo also has a role in the film, playing Jake, a friend of Brian who was affected by the scam. John Amos plays Jake's father in the film, and Marla Gibbs appears as Madea's neighbor.
The film begins principal photography on Monday, January 30th in Atlanta, Georgia, at the filmmaker's own 200,000 square foot studio compound, Tyler Perry Studios. Mike Paseornek, Lionsgate's President of Motion Picture Development and Production, will oversee the project on behalf of the studio. Ozzie Areu, President of Tyler Perry Studios, and Paul E. Hall are producing the film alongside Perry.
"This is the ultimate fish out of water story, and I believe the funniest Madea story yet," said Paseornek. "We loved the witness protection concept from the second we heard it, but when Tyler cast comedy icon Eugene Levy and put him under the same roof with Madea and Uncle Joe, he took this movie to a whole new level."
When asked for her feedback on the project, Madea herself added, "Auh hell, now they want me to work with these white folks. Next thing you know they will be asking me to go on Dancing With The Stars. I need to talk to my agent."
The film is being produced under Perry's ongoing first look partnership with Lionsgate. Perry's theatrical releases for Lionsgate have grossed more than $572 million at the North American box office alone, and his films, stage plays and DVDs are all distributed by the company. GOOD DEEDS, starring Perry with Thandie Newton, will be released by Lionsgate this February 24th, with THE MARRIAGE COUNSELOR in theaters on July 27th, 2012.
Perry also produces two hit television shows, "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and its spinoff, "Meet The Browns," which are distributed by Lionsgate's Debmar-Mercury and continue to establish new standards of distribution and syndication success. His third television show, "For Better or Worse" debuted on TBS in November.
Perry is represented by WME and attorney Matt Johnson from Ziffren Brittenham. Levy is represented by Anonymous Content and ICM. Talent deals for the film were negotiated on behalf of Lionsgate by Robert Melnik, EVP of Business and Legal Affairs.
About Tyler Perry Born into poverty and raised in a household scarred by abuse, Perry's strength, faith and perseverance would later form the foundations of his plays, films, books and shows. A simple piece of advice from Oprah set his career in motion as a diary of his daily thoughts and experiences led to his writing of a musical, I Know I've Been Changed, in 1992. Five years later with no money left, sleeping in seedy motels and his car, Perry's faith in himself and God only got stronger, allowing him to forge ahead. In 1998, his perseverance paid off when the play began a limited church run.
The community came out in droves and Perry never looked back as he began an incredible run of eight plays in eight years. Madea first debuted in 2000's I Can Do Bad All By Myself and spawned three more plays leading to Perry's jump to the big screen with 2005's Diary of a Mad Black Woman, which debuted at #1 nationwide. He followed with Madea's Family Reunion, Daddy's Little Girls, Why Did I Get Married?, Meet the Browns, The Family That Preys, I Can Do Bad All by Myself, Why Did I Get Married Too?, and For Colored Girls, which were all met with massive fan support and commercial success. Madea's Big Happy Family, which was first a stage play, opened at over $25 million this past April. In 2006, Perry's first book, Don't Make A Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings: Madea's Uninhibited Commentaries On Life and Love, shot to the top of the New York Times bestseller list and claimed two Quill Book Awards.
In 2007, Perry expanded his brand to television with the series House of Payne, the highest-rated first-run syndicated cable show of all time and followed that up with Meet the Browns, the second highest debut ever on cable, after House of Payne. In November, Perry unveiled his newest television series on TBS, "For Better or Worse," based on the characters from the popular "Why Did I Get Married" films.
He can next be seen in the lead role in Good Deeds, and played the title character in the Rob Cohen film I, Alex Cross.Perry recently directed the upcoming Lionsgate drama based on his stage play of the same name, The Marriage Counselor.
About Lionsgate Lionsgate is a leading global entertainment company with a strong and diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, family entertainment, digital distribution. new channel platforms and international distribution and sales. The Company has built a strong television presence in production of prime time cable and broadcast network series, distribution and syndication of programming and an array of channel assets. Lionsgate currently has 15 shows on more than 10 networks spanning its prime time production, distribution and syndication businesses, including such critically-acclaimed hits as the multiple Emmy Award-winning "Mad Men", "Weeds" and "Nurse Jackie" along with the comedy "Blue Mountain State," the Golden Globe-winning drama "Boss" and the syndication successes "Tyler Perry's House Of Payne", its spinoff "Meet The Browns", "The Wendy Williams Show" and "Are We There Yet?".
Its feature film business has been fueled by such recent successes as THE LINCOLN LAWYER, TYLER PERRY'S MADEA'S BIG HAPPY FAMILY, THE EXPENDABLES, MARGIN CALL, THE LAST EXORCISM and the critically-acclaimed PRECIOUS, which won two Academy Awards®. With the January 2012 acquisition of Summit Entertainment, the Company now has the two leading young adult franchises – the blockbuster TWILIGHT SAGA, which has grossed more than $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office, and the HUNGER GAMES franchise, whose first film will be released on March 23. Recent Summit hits include RED, LETTERS TO JULIET, KNOWING, the STEP UP franchise and the Academy Award winning Best Picture THE HURT LOCKER.
Lionsgate's home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rate. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 13,000 motion picture and television titles that is an important source of recurring revenue and serves as the foundation for the growth of the Company's core businesses. The Lionsgate and Summit brands remain synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.