ATLANTA — Tyler Perry felt more grateful than surprised after his latest Madea movie topped the North American box office for a second straight week.
"Boo! A Madea Halloween" took the No. 1 spot, earning more than $17.2 million over the weekend for a two-week total of $52.6 million. His comedy horror film featuring a tough-talking grandmother topped Tom Hanks' "Inferno," Tom Cruise's "Jack Reacher: Never Go Back" and Ben Affleck's "The Accountant."
Perry said he felt confident about the film after his "Madea on the Run" tour drew diverse crowds.
"I would go out to certain parts of the country and the audience was 50 percent black and 50 percent other, which is a total change for me," Perry told The Associated Press in a recent interview. He introduced the Madea character in the 1999 play, "I Can Do Bad All by Myself."
"When I first started, it was 100 percent black," he said. "I knew something had changed drastically with Madea. To see it show up in the box office, to see what I already saw in theaters, it's very powerful. I'm grateful. Eighteen years. That character. People still love the franchise. Who knew?"
Perry said the timing was right for the release of "Boo!"
"What this country needed more than anything after all this political campaign, all those police shootings and all this hatred, the country needed a laugh," he said. "I think with the success of Madea, it speaks to the opportunity of laughing rather than going heavy. The timing is what it is."
Perry said the idea for the film came from a joke in Chris Rock's 2014 movie, "Top Five."
"I had no intention of doing this movie. ... I don't do witches and demons and goblins. Lionsgate was like, 'You can't think of a concept?' I was watching YouTube one day and ... I knew exactly what I was going to do."
For his next project, Perry wants to incorporate what he learned from the David Fincher-directed "Gone Girl," in which he played a lawyer.
"You won't see anything I learned in the venture of Madea's 'Boo!'" he said. "But you'll see a lot of the things I learned from (Fincher) in the next movie. ... I finally have the creative time to write movies. So we'll see what happens."