Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween Was Born From A Chris Rock Top Five Joke

Chris Rock's 2014 film "Top Five" is about a character named Andre Allen, but really it's about Chris Rock. Andre is an actor best known for silly comedy films, his biggest hit being a cop comedy wherein he wore a silly bear suit. Now on the road to recovery from alcoholism, the Allen character is attempting to break into more "serious" cinema by playing the real-life Haitian revolutionary Dutty Boukman. The bulk of "Top Five" is an extended, confessional interview between Andre and a journalist named Chelsea (Rosario Dawson) as they walk and talk and tell stories and anecdotes. "Top Five" is a conversational and breezy film that gently criticizes the state of modern comedy, the nature of fame, and how ridiculous life can feel after surviving a dark time of addiction. 

Rock, having worked in stand-up since he was a teenager, devoted much of his script for "Top Five" to jabs at the entertainment industry. He lambasted the way celebrity can encourage vices and tells a pretty gross story of an unintended foursome his character had with two sex workers and Cedric the Entertainer (playing an outsize comedian named Jazzy Dee). Rock also addressed the way broad, dumb comedies tend to be far more popular in the 2010s than headier, adult dramas. 

To illustrate the sorry state that Andre was in, as well as lambaste the sorry state of American cinema, Rock had the Dutty Boukman film lose at the box office to a fictional Tyler Perry film called "Boo!," a Halloween film starring Perry's popular Madea character. One might note that Tyler Perry did indeed make a film called "Boo! A Madea Halloween" in 2016. According to Rock in a 2020 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Perry got the idea from him. 


Perry's "Boo! A Madea Halloween" was the 10th feature film to star the character — there are, as of this writing, 13 Madea movies — and while it was a hit, it wasn't terribly well-received by critics. According to The Hollywood Reporter, an executive from Lionsgate (the studio behind the Madea movies) saw "Top Five" and felt Rock's gag movie was just plausible enough to make in real life. That unnamed executive brought the idea to Tyler Perry's massive entertainment complex in Georgia and proposed the title and the premise. 

Not only did Perry make "Boo!," but the following year, followed it with "Boo 2!: A Madea Halloween." Not only did the "Boo!" movies take their titles from "Top Five," but evidently the fake key art that Rock invented for his film was used wholesale by Lionsgate. The fake movie became a real movie. One might be able to imagine the "Boo!" films as coming from within a fictional universe. In that regard, "Boo!" and Pixar's "Lightyear" are remarkably similar. 

Legally, this was all on the up and up, and Perry has always been open about using Rock's idea. Additionally, Rock didn't seem to resent Perry's imitation too much. In the Hollywood Reporter article, Rock recalls meeting one of the heads of Lionsgate at the wedding of a mutual friend and playfully — but only kinda playfully — confronted him. Why, Rock asked, wasn't he paid royalties for the "Boo!" idea? "I don't even think I got a special thanks," Rock said. "And I'm not complaining, I'm just saying, I've seen a bone thrown for a lot less."

Perry would eventually cast Rock in his 2018 film "Tyler Perry's Nobody's Fool," so the two seem to be on good terms.

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