Browsing through my current edition of Production Weekly (PW), the subscription-based film and TV industry production breakdown online publication, the following immediately got my attention, for what should be obvious reasons!
Said to be set up at Tyler Perry’s 34th Street Films production company, the project is titled "The Circle," and is described as."a pulse-pounding adventure set in the world of international espionage," as an MI6 asset stumbles into "a continent spanning battle between the deadly mercenary group, "The Circle," and a rogue CIA assassin hell bent on revenge. The prize: a stolen nuclear missile train."
The MI6 is essentially the British equivalent of the CIA here in the USA.
PW unfortunately doesn’t provide any further information on the project, except to say that it’s been put into development at Perry’s 34th Street Films company in Atlanta, GA. No word on whether Perry plans to star in, and/or direct as well; or whether he’ll only produce, with another director behind the camera, and other actors starring.
But, assuming this holds, this would certainly be quite a departure for Mr Perry. "Alex Cross" aside, cross-continental espionage adventure-thrillers aren’t exactly his wheelhouse. But he’s long expressed his desire to venture into uncharted territory (for him), and push himself beyond the type of fare his most known for.
Again, he may simply be operating behind the camera in this specific case, as a producer; but he might also be planning to wear several hats, as he’s done in the past.
"The Circle" doesn’t sound like the type of movie that would appeal to his core pious audience. They certainly didn’t show up for "Alex Cross." But a problem for Perry going forward is whether the rest of us (who are not fans of his typical shtick) will want to see him in anything more than what we are already familiar with. We didn’t show up for "Alex Cross" either.
I suppose this movie-making hiatus he’s put himself on, to focus on his TV series at Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, could also serve as a path towards reinventing himself. He disappears for a couple of years or so, we mostly forget about him, and, suddenly, he reemerges, but rebranded.
He does feature in David Fincher’s upcoming drama/thriller "Gone Girl," which stars Ben Affleck. And from what I know, Perry’s role isn’t some cameo – not like his bit-part in the first J.J. Abrams "Star trek" movie. He gets to do much more on screen this time around, and, in effect, show a different side of himself, which one can say is all part of his plan to, as I suggested, reinvent himself, right before our very eyes, one film at a time.
All conjecture on my part of course; after all, there just might be a few more Madea movies and ham-fisted dramas to come.
Ultimately, I’d love to see him produce/finance more and more feature films by up-and-coming black filmmakers especially. He’s certainly in a position help cultivate a new generation of black artists, both in front of and behind the camera.
But let’s wait and see what comes of this "The Circle" project.