There are some movies known by their success and others for their lack of success. Tyler Perry the director and actor made a successful movie called “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail.” Its domestic gross was over 90 million dollars, but in an unforeseeable repercussion it inspired the worst box office showing by a movie in wide release in the history of modern cinema.
The failure in question is a children’s film called, “The Oggieloves: In the Big Balloon Adventure.” This historic mistake comes from an almost childlike naivete. The man responsible is Ken Viselmann. Meanwhile, Tyler Perry was simply making films for black Americans. One particular aspect of black culture in America which has been endlessly lampooned is the phenomenon of turning a theater experience into an interactive one. Talking at the screen, sometimes throwing popcorn, audibly reacting to plot points and imagery. These things are considered common fodder for jokes by the likes of Key and Peele. The comedian actors turned that stereotype on its head with a parody of that situation in their self titled program for Comedy Central. The question of whether this type of behavior is appropriate is sometimes a controversial one, however, the Oggielove creator, Viselman saw this phenomenon and wanted to recreate it for all children.
The important facts are these: “The Oogieloves” is a children’s movie styled after the famed Teletubbies after the creators of The Teletubbies turned down the opportunity to make a movie version of their show. Viselman tried to create his version of the Teletubbies beginning with a deconstruction of both the Teletubbies and the film going experience, itself. Tyler Perry created a particular experience for Viselman when he was watching “Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Prison.” Audiences members besides Viselman, talked to the screen and Viselman thought this idea would be fun for kids.
The movie’s producers invested a large amount of money in marketing including a glow sticks with butterflies were sent to theaters alongside the traditional posters and other promotional materials. The pre-release buzz was optimistic, but the actual release was the worst money per theater in a wide release in the history of the cinema.
This film, The Oggieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure, was for kids, so cheap shots at the plot are not the point. However, Oogieloves’ financial disaster might make it hard to convince investors to pursue new interactive experiences in the future.