Will Packer has renewed his overall deal with Universal Television. The two-year extension pact takes Packer’s Will Packer Productions banner through 2017 at the studio.
“The Wedding Ringer” and “Think Like a Man” producer is taking a major step into TV this fall, executive producing NBC comedy “People Are Talking,” and sitcom “Uncle Buck,”which debuts midseason on ABC. He’s also set to executive produce the “Roots” revival, which will air next year on History, A&E and Lifetime.
“Talking” stars Tone Bell, Mark Paul-Gosselaar, Vanessa Lachey and Bresha Webb as two different couples who are neighbors and best friends. Packer executive produces alongside writer D.J. Nash with director Pam Fryman. “Buck,” a take on John Hughes’ 1989 film, stars comedian Mike Epps as the title character.
“Will Packer is energetic, passionate, creative and wants to win,” Universal Television president Bela Bajaria commented. “He is a collaborative partner, a hands-on producer and is absolutely the best dressed!”
NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke added, “Will Packer has become such a fantastic addition to our Universal family. We are lucky to have such an enthusiastic and prolific producer so engaged in network television. Will, Korin [Huggins], and their team truly have their fingers on the pulse of entertaining and fun.”
Packer’s other film credits include “Think Like a Man Too,” “Stomp the Yard,” “Ride Along” and its upcoming sequel, which will hit theaters in January. He’s repped by UTA.
This is his first year working in television development.
Packer’s as-yet-untitled fourth project will feature two female detectives from LA who investigate homicides and have complicated personal lives. The hour-long project is being billed as a dramedy and riff on the familiar buddy cop formula.Ride Along, Packer’s last buddy cop project starring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, raked in more than six times its budget and has a sequel planned for early 2016. Packer is set to return as producer for Ride Along 2.
Packer, however, is staying busy in the meantime. In addition to producing the thriller film No Good Deed, which made more than $52 million domestically against a $13 million budget, Packer is also the producer of the upcoming January 2015 Hart film The Wedding Ringer and the N.W.A. biopic slated for August 2015 titled Straight Outta Compton.
Packer will executive produce the new drama-comedy, with Gossip Girl writer and producer Amanda Lasher set to pen the pilot.
According to Variety.com, Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson’s “No Good Deed,” is poised to knock box-office leader “Guardians of the Galaxy” out of first place this weekend. The Sony Pictures thriller opened to $8.8 million Stateside on Friday and is headed for a $24 to $25 million launch that will provide a much-needed boost to the historically low U.S. box office earnings.
“No Good Deed” stars Elba as an escaped convict who terrorizes Henson (a DA-turned-stay-at-home) and her two children in their own house.
The film, which carries a modest $13 million production budget, stands to benefit from targeting under-served African American audiences. It reunites Elba with his “Luther” TV show director, Sam Miller, and “Obsessed” producer, Will Packer, who is also behind the “Think Like a Man” franchise, which stars Henson. Lee Clay co-produced with Packer.
Alcon Entertainment’s “Dolphin Tale 2”, which stars Morgan Freeman, also kicked past the competition with $4.3 million on Friday. The family film will likely debut to $15 million.
If weekend estimates hold, the sequel will be a bit behind the 2011 original, which opened to $19.2 million, then went on to earn $72.3 million domestic. Harry Connick Jr., Ashley Judd, Freeman, and Kris Kristofferson all returned for the sequel, along with director Charles Martin Smith.
This year’s box office champ and summer savior, “Guardians of the Galaxy,” made $2 million on Friday to place third after three consecutive wins. It’s set to gross $7.5 million by Sunday and pass $305 million.
“Think Like a Man Too” raised the roof at multiplexes this weekend, carousing its way to $30 million domestically, according to studio estimates.
The Sony Pictures and Screen Gems sequel premiered on 2,225 screens and cost a modest $24 million to produce. It was able to capitalize on star Kevin Hart’s rising profile as it held off challenges from “22 Jump Street” and “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
“It’s not bad being number one,” said Rory Bruer, Sony Pictures president of worldwide distribution. “The girls versus the guys element and getting the perspective of both sexes is something that’s always appealing to folks.”
The first “Think Like a Man” closed out its run with $91.5 million stateside. The follow-up film, brings back director Tim Story, as well as cast members such as Hart, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall and Jerry Ferrara, sending them to Las Vegas for a wedding ceremony that involve bachelor and bachelorette parties that take full advantage of all that Sin City has to offer.
The 18th edition of the American Black Film Festival will make its New York debut next month with films directed by Tim Story and Spike Lee bookending the June 19-22 event, organizers announced last week.
The festival, which promotes work by and about people of African descent, is presented by Film Life, a New York City-based entertainment company. The Miami area was home to the festival for most of its existence. Now, Jeff Friday, the festival’s founder and Film Life chief executive, said in a phone interview that he hoped the move will be a permanent one, with the goal of reaching a larger, more diverse audience.
“Last year proved if nothing else, that black films can be more mainstream,” Mr. Friday said. “We want to encourage audiences to consume, ingest and enjoy black cinema as much as multicultural audiences enjoy other forms of black culture.”
Kevin Hart more than lived up to his name on Valentine’s day as Sony-Screen Gems’ About Last Night led the charge among couples. And yet, the comedian-turned-leading man, who stands at just 5’2″ tall, has been quietly building his brand, which has only just blown up at the box office, in order to become one of the most biggest African American stars since Will Smith or Denzel Washington. Prior to this year, Hart was known more in the stand-up world, with Codeblack-produced and distributed (along with Summit) hits like Laugh at My Pain and Let Me Explain, both of which were preceded by the eponymous Kevin Hart.
In less than two months, Hart has become one of the industry’s sturdiest B.O. players with two major narrative feature hits: Universal’s Ride Along, which became this year’s first $100 million-plus grosser and now “About Last Night,” which topped Friday’s box office with $12.9 million, kick-starting a solid $28.5 million four-day run.
Earlier in his career, Hart had memorable supporting roles in such films as The Five-Year Engagement and Think Like a Man. Hart’s seemingly overnight hit status also is due, in part, to the recent success of urban-targeted films in general, including The Best Man Holiday and 12 Years a Slave, both of which were released late last year.
Still, neither of those films broke out the way Ride Along has when it scored a rare three straight wins atop the domestic box office. And while African American-themed films typically do not travel well outside the U.S. (aside from Will Smith — formerly, at least), they are made for a price. About Last Night, for instance, cost only $12.5 million to produce, while Ride Along was budgeted at $25 million. During opening weekend, Ride Along scored 30% of its gross from Hispanics, with Caucasians contributing 12% of the opening. African Americans still delivered half of the box office, though since then the film’s staying power is attributed to a broadened demo base. About Last Night, on the other hand, earned an overwhelming 72% of its opening from African Americans.
Regardless, it’s a steady beat for Hart. Sony is further investing in multi-hyphenate by his upcoming comedy The Wedding Ringer to Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in 2015.
Benefitting from its strong date night appeal and Kevin Hart‘s current filmic hot streak, About Last Nightopened strong on Valentine’s Day and wound up ahead of fellow 1980s remakes RoboCop and Endless Love this weekend, succumbing only to The LEGO Movie, which easily led the box office over President’s Day weekend.
According to boxofficemojo.com, in its second outing, The LEGO Movie added $48.8 million and so far has earned $129.1 million. Playing at 2,253 locations, About Last Night opened to an estimated $27 million. That’s the best opening for a romantic comedy since 2012’s Think Like a Man ($33.6 million), which also featured Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy and Regina Hall. It is noticeably lower than recent Kevin Hart movie Ride Along ($41.5 million), though that’s a difficult number to match.
According to Sony, About Last Night‘s audience was 63 percent female and 57 percent over the age of 30. They awarded the movie a solid “A-” CinemaScore. Remaining a master builder in its second weekend, The Lego Movie ended Valentine’s Day in a tie with new entry About Last Night, but is expected to zoom ahead on Saturday for a possible $59 million-plus finish over the long Presidents Day weekend. About Last Night took in $13 million on Friday for a projected four-day opening in the $35 million range.
ABC has given a cast-contingent pilot order to a multi-camera comedy from hot actor-comedian Kevin Hart and former Community executive producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan. The untitled Kevin Hart project is based on Hart’s life and stand-up. Written by Goldman and Donovan, it takes a candid look at the post-divorce life of a couple trying to forge a friendship for the sake of their kids, despite differences.
20th Century Fox TV is producing, with Hart, his manager Dave Becky, Goldman and Donovan executive producing. If the project goes forward, Hart likely will play a recurring role. Hart is one of the hottest comedy talents at the moment. Following the breakout success of his 2013 movie Think Like A Man, his latest feature comedy, Ride Along, broke box-office records with a huge Martin Luther King weekend opening.
The former BET host will join Giuliana Rancic at the news desk, while his predecessor Ryan Seacrest continues as E! News managing editor.
Terrence Jenkins will slip into Ryan Seacrest‘s former slot as co-host of E! News. With the multi-hyphenate relinquishing his news duties as part of a wide-ranging deal he signed with NBC Universal this past spring, E! has hired the former 106 & Parkco-host to join Giuliana Rancic at the weekday anchor desk beginning November 12. As part of his new role, Jenkins (formerly known as Terrence J) will work on personality profiles and will report for the news program. Continue reading “Terrence J to replace Ryan Seacrest on ‘E! News’”→