This weekend, Tyler Perry, Hollywood's defending biggest earner, stars in Alex Cross, adapted from a thriller by airport bookstore kingpin James Patterson. Both Perry and Patterson are wildly prolific and damn wealthy: Perry made an estimated $130 million last year, while in 2010 Patterson outsold Stephen King, Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson and John Grisham—combined.

In order for this film to be worth anyone's time, it should probably have an opening weekend bigger than Avatar and Titanic combined. Alex Cross screened after WW press deadlines, so we decided to see how Perry and Patterson compare.

Early Career

Tyler Perry: Worked his way up from community theater. His first movie, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, made its $5.5 million budget back four times over in its first week.

James Patterson: A longtime adman, Patterson ran a firm that had more than 1,000 employees and $2 billion in business. He coined the slogan "I'm a Toys 'R' Us kid."


Tyler Perry: Has directed 25 feature films and 116 TV episodes.

James Patterson: Has written 98 books.

Best-Known Protagonist

Tyler Perry: Mabel "Madea" Simmons, a large and profane elderly woman. Often ends up in anger management class or prison.

James Patterson: Alex Cross, a rational and intelligent forensic psychologist and government consultant. Volunteers at his neighborhood church.

Notable Lines

Tyler Perry: "Whoever heard of putting a bra on a dead body? When I die, if you put a bra on me I'll come back and kill you." (Madea's Family Reunion)

James Patterson: "I feel like, like pudding," Iggy groaned. "Pudding with nerve endings. Pudding in great pain." (The Angel Experiment)

Hackiest Moments

Tyler Perry: In Madea's Witness Protection, Eugene Levy plays a banker who's been set up as the fall guy for his firm's Madoff-like Ponzi scheme. When Levy's family is placed under witness protection, guess where they end up? That's right, with Madea.

James Patterson: Patterson's Maximum Ride series features six children who are biologically part bird, who spend their time battling global warming and saving baby penguins. Their enemy keeps returning from the dead, and in the end (spoiler alert!) Earth loses.

Detractors Say

Tyler Perry: "For me, the imaging is troubling and it hearkens back to Amos 'n' Andy." (Spike Lee)

James Patterson: “James Patterson is a terrible writer.” (Stephen King) 

Fans Say

Tyler Perry: "This man never apologized for who we were.... He didn't go mainstream, he brought mainstream to us." (Al Sharpton)

James Patterson: "I was at the Container Store yesterday and saw the book Swimsuit on one of the shelves, it was AWESOME!!!!!" (fan on

How He Defends Himself

Tyler Perry: "Spike can go straight to hell."

James Patterson: “I’m a good dad, a nice husband—my only crime is I’ve sold millions of books.” 

SEE IT: Alex Cross opens Friday at Cedar Hills, Clackamas, Eastport, Oak Grove, Bridgeport, City Center, Division, Evergreen Parkway, Fox Tower, Lloyd Mall, Movies on TV, Sherwood, Tigard.