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It was the end of an era for Tyler Perry at the New York City premiere of A Madea Family Funeral on Monday night. Nearly 15 years after the release of the first installment in the franchise, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Perry is bidding farewell to his cult favorite Madea films.
“I don’t want to be her age playing her, so it was time to shut it down and move on,” Perry, 49, told The Hollywood Reporter. “I’ve got some other things I want to do, and in this next 50, I’m going to do something different.”
Though the title of the 11th entry in the Madea film series seems to indicate the obvious, it’s not the gun-toting grandma whose death A Madea Family Funeral follows. According to Perry, killing her off wasn’t an option.
“It’s always going to be open-ended because what you don’t want to do is murder a family member,” he said. “And a lot of people feel like she’s a family member.”
Still, plenty of people at the premiere seemed to be mourning Madea.
“I just don’t want to believe it. It’s a sad day,” Patrice Lovely, who’s starred in numerous Madea films over the years, told THR. “I don’t want to get sensitive because I don’t want to mess up my makeup, but I love Madea.”
Even those who are just joining the franchise in A Madea Family Funeral were emotional about the series’ departure.
“I’m from the South, and Madea reminds me of several black mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers that I grew up with, so I’m going to miss that representation on film,” KJ Smith said. “And just the comedy of it all. [Perry] is just a funny person.”
The character of Madea was first introduced onstage in the 1999 play I Can Do Bad All By Myself, at age 68. Since then, she’s been at the center of other theater productions and dozens of films, TV shows and even a book.
In addition to rolling out A Madea Family Funeral, Perry is currently traveling city to city to wrap up Madea’s story on the stage. “Madea’s Farewell Tour” has been performed to sold-out crowds and the likes of Tiffany Haddish, Beyonce and Jay-Z.
A Madea Family Funeral hits theaters March 1.
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