article by Dave McNary via Variety.com
Lionsgate has formed a partnership with Kevin Hart and his Hartbeat Digital to launch the Laugh Out Loud video-on-demand service in the fall.
The new over-the-top service will operate 24-7 and serve as the exclusive home for all content created by Hart outside his theatrical and live touring activities and include original series starring Hart — such as a hidden-camera premium original series in which Hart stars as an undercover Lyft driver.
“Lionsgate has always been a great partner of mine, and I’m more than excited to take our business and creative relationship to new levels,” said Hart. “I understand the direction in which the television business is headed, and I see this big new space toward which audiences are starting to gravitate. I believe that launching this venture together now puts us ahead of the pack.”
Laugh Out Loud will also showcase content curated by Hart along with shows featuring social-media stars and up-and-coming comedians. That will include a series starring social media personality Logan Paul, who generated 300 million video views on Facebook last month along with nearly 4 billion loops on Vine.
Codeblack CEO Jeff Clanagan, who has served as Hart’s business partner for the past decade, has been named president of Laugh Out Loud and president of Hartbeat Digital.
Clanagan told Variety that the idea of forming a digital content partnership with Lionsgate had been in the works for several months as vehicle to leverage Hart’s growing worldwide popularity as a stand-up comedy performer. He performed Wednesday in Cape Town, South Africa, for a crowd of 11,000, and was due to appear in Dubai on Friday at a 5,000-seat arena — the final performance in the “What Now” tour.
“Kevin has a worldwide appeal that transcends cultures, particularly in the 18-to-30-year-old demographic,” Clanagan noted. “And they all have smart phones so it makes sense for us to provide them with more comedy content.”
Clanagan also said that the tour, which saw two London shows draw 100,000 attendees, has afforded the Laugh Out venture to start making content deals with up-and-coming comedians from an array of markets.
The alliance will also include Lionsgate teaming with Hart and game developer Fifth Journey to create a social adventure mobile game starring and written in collaboration with Hart. The game will allow players to become comedic rock stars with Hart as their mentor and include touring the country, starring in movies, hosting award shows and more.