Column: Social media has had a tremendous impact on movie and television marketing, increasing awareness and visibility for a TV show or movie across the globe in a click — a lot clicks — of a button. Some of the best social media teams right now on TV are the two Jimmys — late-night talk hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. These two are in a constant battle for viewers and they really go at each other on social media. Their social engagement across platforms and their understanding of social heralds a new generation of savvy Hollywood stars backed by sophisticated online marketing teams that understand how to push past traditional media to build a tremendous fan base. Increasingly, stars, celebrities and their teams are using social media to extend awareness of their brands — because that is what they have become — online and off, driving ratings and box office as well as bigger fan bases.
These days, a performer’s social media footprint is strongly considered when marketers start strategizing a film’s campaign. Vin Diesel is the current king of social, almost entirely because of the monster presence he’s built on Facebook. In the months since his emotional tribute on FB for his good friend and Fast & Furious co-star Paul Walker who died in a car crash, Diesel has seen his Facebook presence vault from an already whopping 54M likes to 72.3M, according to RelishMix, which tracks social-media engagement by TV shows, films and performers. And in six months, his following has jumped 46%.
Unlike Kimmel and Fallon, Diesel has no team to manage his social profile. He does it entirely on his own. “Vin is a very unique case in that he curates that himself and the voice is authentic and all the posts seem real because they are real,” says Michael Moses, co-president of marketing at Universal Pictures. “He doesn’t have a social-media team. He maintains that. He has an authentic relationship with his fans.” Moses calls it “a higher level of commitment and engagement.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: ABC‘s multi-camera comedy pilot from actor-comedian Kevin Hart is undergoing a change following the table read. The character of Mircea, Derek’s (Romany Malco) post-divorce girlfriend, has been reconceived and will now be called Mandy. As a result, Amber Stevens, who had been cast as Mircea, is exiting, and Army Wives alumna Ryan Michelle Bathe has been tapped to play Mandy. Mircea was originally written as Derek’s new live-in girlfriend, a former super-model who once jet-setted around the world, who is now a hostess at a local restaurant and very much in love with the newly divorced Derek. The character of Mandy is still being fine tuned but, in broad strokes, she is Derek’s optimistic girlfriend who fears she may have gotten in over her head when she encourages Derek to make peace with his over-dramatic, overbearing, ex-wife. Read More »
Universal Pictures announced that it will release the Kevin Hart-Ice Cube buddy comedy Ride Along 2 for the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend. It’s a date worked very well for the original Ride Along, which broke box office records this past MLK frame with a whopping $41.5M gross. In fact, the date is kinda known now as the Will Packer/Kevin Hart spot. Next year, Sony is releasing the duo’s The Wedding Ringeron the same holiday weekend. Adam Fields also is producing the comedy. Universal executives and the producers started working on the Ride Along sequel last month. Tim Story will direct Ride Along 2, and Hart and Ice Cube reprising their roles; Hart plays a quick-witted security guard who has his eye on Cube’s sister. The film has grossed more than $140M worldwide. A late-June/early-July start is planned, and all are hard at work finalizing the script, which is expected to have more action. Packer, Matt Alvarez and Larry Brezner will produce with Ice Cube.
Warner Bros has slotted the Etan Cohen-directed comedy Get Hard for March 27, 2015. Will Ferrell stars as a rich, soft-handed investment bank manager who is sentenced to a maximum security prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He hires the streetwise guy who normally washes his car to get him ready to do hard time in the 30 days before he has to report. Kevin Hart co-stars. Get Hard will go up against Fox’s animated pic The Penguins Of Madagascar and Sony/Columbia’s sci-fi actioner Chappie.
EXCLUSIVE: It was inevitable after the huge success of Ride Alongthat Universal Pictures executives would be salivating to get the sequel together. Tim Story will direct Ride Along 2 and Ice Cube and Kevin Hart are closing to reprise their roles as the quick-witted security guard (Hart) who has his eye on his partner’s (Cube’s) sister. The film debuted five weeks ago on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend to bring in a record opening of $41.5M. It has since grossed more than $120M worldwide as of this weekend. The three-day gross on Ride Along dropped only 9% even as they shed 283 screens with $3,460 per screen. Helluva hold.
Will Packer and Cube’s Cube Vision (Ice Cube and Matt Alvarez) are coming back to produce from a script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? A late June/early July start is planned and all are hard at work finalizing the script which is expected to have more action and am hearing that it will be more multi-cultural to expand the demos. Smart move, all, if you want to expand into the lucrative Latin American and European markets. Yes, it’s comedy but it’s also business. Ride Along is in six territories currently with expansions into other markets yet to come, but it is getting 97% of its total box office ($121.2M) from domestic. Likewise, the bankable Think Like a Man also had 95% of its box office coming from the U.S. Universal EVP Production Scott Bernstein will oversee the project for the studio. Larry Brezner is also producing and BenderSpink, executive producing. Read More »
Romany Malco is set as the lead of ABC‘s multi-camera comedy pilot Keep It Together, lifting the cast-contingency off the project from hot actor-comedian Kevin Hart and former Community executive producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan. Written by Goldman and Donovan based on Hart’s life and stand-up and, Keep It Together takes a candid look at the post-divorce life of a couple, Derek (Malco) and Lorraine, trying to forge a friendship for the sake of their kids, despite differences. Derek is a fit and energetic exercise equipment salesman. 20th Century Fox TV is producing, with Hart, his manager Dave Becky, Goldman and Donovan executive producing. Hart would play a recurring role subject to availability. Malco and Hart have a long standing relationship dating way back to working together on 40 Year Old Virgin. Most recently they appeared together in the hit Sony Screen Gem Think Like A Man films. Malco is with Principato-Young, Paul Kohner, and Ziffren.
As Deadline reported yesterday, it looks like Hollywood has a new king of the MLK Day weekend. A week after the record-breaking debut of Ride Along, Sony said today that it has booked Kevin Hart starrer The Wedding Ringer into next year’s holiday frame. The Screen Gems/Miramax comedy is slated for January 16, 2015, where it will exchange vows against Fox’s Frankenstein and Universal’s Untitled Michael Mann project. Hart stars as Jimmy, who provides best man services for socially challenged guys. One groom-to-be (Josh Gad) hires him — then goes so far as to name nine fake groomsmen. Jeremy Garelick is directing Wedding Ringer from a screenplay he co-wrote with Jay Lavender. Adam Fields and Will Packer are producing.
EXCLUSIVE: Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures have been reserving prime release date real estate for secret family film projects. Deadline has the details on the one that will be released on February 12, 2016. Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri has set Louis C.K., Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet and Ride Along’s Kevin Hart to voice the main characters in what is being called the Untitled Pets Movie. Meledandri is producing the 3D animated film with longtime collaborator Janet Healy. Chris Renaud, who helmed the first two Despicable Me films for Illumination, will direct this one, and the co-director is Yarrow Cheney, who helmed a short that will be part of The Minions DVD release. The script was written by Despicable Me scribes Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio.
This becomes the fifth animated film for Illumination and a return to an original property, and the Pets pic marks the first animated studio feature that Louis C.K, Stonestreet and Hart have taken part in. Here’s the logline: the action comedy is set in a Manhattan apartment building. After the two-legged residents head for work and school, their pets gather to start their day, which consists of hanging out, trading humiliating stories about their owners, and helping each other work up adorable looks that will lead to more snacks. The head hound is a quick-witted terrier rescue (Louis C.K.), whose position at the epicenter of his master’s universe is suddenly threatened when she comes home with Duke (Stonestreet), a sloppy mongrel with no polish. The two soon find themselves on the mean streets of New York, where they meet the adorable white bunny Snowball (Hart). It turns out that Snowball is the leader of an army of pets that were abandoned and are determined to get back at humanity and every owner-loving pet. The dogs must thwart this plot and make it back in time for dinner. Read More »
Vampire Academy is moving up and out of Valentine’s Day weekend and will now bow on Feb. 7, giving the horror pic a couple of more weeks to play before RoboCop (MGM) and the next Kevin Hart pic About Last Night coming smashing through theater doors. Okay, now that Ride Alongis busting up all Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday records at the box office with an estimated $42.2M take for the three day and $48M-plus for the four-day gross, Valentine’s Day weekend looks interesting given that Sony is releasing both pictures (Robocop on the Wednesday before). About Last Night, which also stars Regina Hall and Joy Bryant, will be released through its Screen Gems moniker. Of course, one is a violent actioner and the other is a romantic comedy so much different pics, but Sony’s gotta be thrilled after seeing these grosses. Read More »
For a guy who stands at 5-feet-4, it’s not surprising Kevin Hart wishes he “was a little bit taller.” In this music video, which Universal made as a promo for the upcoming pic Ride Along, Hart puts his own take on Skee-Lo’s “I Wish”, taking on his co-star Ice Cube and sharing his holiday wish of playing in the NBA. You’ll also see some familiar hoops-star cameos alongside Hart — could it be a preview of participants in another Universal pic, Ballers, that stars Hart and NBA star LeBron James? Ride Along hits theaters January 17. Check out the video:
Security guard and avid gamer Ben (Kevin Hart) wants to ask his girlfriend to marry him, but he wants her brother’s blessing first. Oh, the brother? He’s a tough, ill-tempered cop (Ice Cube) who refers to his potential future in-law as a “man Smurf.” So Ben must prove himself worthy by going with the brother on a ride along patrolling the streets of Atlanta. Director Tim Story’s action comedy was written by Greg Coolidge, Jason Mantzoukas, and Phil Hay & Matt Manfredi and co-stars John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Bryan Callen and Tika Sumpter. Here’s the first full trailer for Ride Along, which Universal opens January 17:
A multicamera comedy from top standup comedian Kevin Hart and former Community executive producers Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan has landed at ABC with a put pilot commitment. Written by Goldman and Donovan, the project is based on Hart’s stand-up. 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. There are no plans for Hart to star but he will likely play a recurring role if the series goes forward. Hart had been heavily pursued for a comedy series — especially after the breakout success of his 2013 feature Think Like A Man – with a number of ideas, including a 10/90 sitcom. His comedy tours have sold out arenas in the past few years, and his recent stand-up film Let Me Explain overperformed with $32+ million gross. Up next, Hart, repped by UTA, 3 Arts and attorney James Adams, is set to star in Ride Along, Grudge Match and a remake of About Last Night. UTA-repped Goldman and Donovan are under an overall deal at 20th TV. Before Community, they spent eight seasons on Scrubs, rising … Read More »
Production is underway on The Wedding Ringer, the formerly untitled Kevin Hart comedy being directed by Jeremy Garelick in his feature helming debut. Among the finalized cast in the pic that co-stars Josh Gad and Kaley Cuoco, Mimi Rogers, Affion Crockett and Ken Howard: Olivia Thirlby, Jorge Garcia, Cloris Leachman, Dan Gill, Corey Holcomb, Colin Kane, Jenifer Lewis, Alan Ritchson, Ignacio Serricchio, Aaron Takahashi, and Nicky Whelan. The film was written under the title The Golden Tux by Garelick and Jay Lavender back when they were writing partners on films like The Break-Up. It centers on Hart, a charismatic guy who provides best man services for socially challenged guys who can’t get somebody to agree to stand by them on the day of their wedding. Gad plays a groom-to-be who finds himself in just such a situation, but, to make matters worse, he fabricates the names of not only a best man but nine groomsmen as well. When all else fails, he seeks out Jimmy’s services to carry out a charade designed to make him look his best but threatens to destroy everything if it fails. Miramax’s Adam Fields and Will Packer are producing. Screen Gems president Clint Culpepper is overseeing the production on behalf of Screen Gems.
Stef Dawson has joined the cast of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1 and 2. She will play Annie Cresta, the love interest of Finnick (Sam Claflin). The Australia native is known for her Aussie TV work and indie films including the recent thriller Wrath. Dawson is repped in the U.S. by Armada Partners for management and Chad Christopher at SMGSB, and in Australia by Rowena Mohr at BMEG. Mockingjay Part 1 will be released November 21, 2014 and Part 2 opens November 20, 2015.
Ken Howard will play Kaley Cuoco’s father in the untitled Screen Gems and Miramax wedding comedy. Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, and Cuoco star. Howard, who is shooting The Judge opposite Robert Downey Jr, will next be seen in Sundance’s comedy A.C.O.D, and he was just re-elected as national president of SAG-AFTRA earlier this month. He is repped by Greene & Associates.
Will Packer, who has seen four of his films debut atop the domestic the box office chart, will develop new projects for Universal Television, it was announced today. The Think Like A Man producer has worked mostly in features, and this is his first overall TV deal. Along with Think Like A Man and its upcoming sequel, Packer’s movie credits include Stomp The Yard, Takers and Obsessed. “We have been impressed by his keen eye on the feature side with the several hit movies he’s produced. We are looking forward to bringing his enthusiasm and expertise into television,” said Bela Bajaria, EVP of Universal TV in a statement Tuesday. Packer also produced the Kevin Hart-Ice Cube comedy Ride Along, which Universal Pictures will release next January. The producer is making a habit of working with Hart; the busy actor-comic also stars in the Think Like a Man films along with the remake of About Last Night, which is set to hit theaters on Valentine’s Day. Packer also is producing No Good Deed, the Idris Elba-Taraji P. Henson thriller set for April 2014. He will follow that with Screen Gems’ Wedding Ringers. The producer, who was the subject of the inaugural Sundance Film Festival edition of Academy Conversations, is repped by UTA and attorney Matt Johnson at Ziffren.
Kevin Hart and Ice Cube headline the Tim Story-directed Ride Along, an action-comedy from Universal. Ice Cube stars as tough APD detective James who takes his sister’s future security guard husband Ben (Hart) on a 24-hour ride-along to prove that he deserves his future bride. But when the wild night leads them to the most notorious criminal in the city, James finds that his new partner’s rapid-fire mouth is just as dangerous as the bullets speeding at it. John Leguizamo and Laurence Fishburne also star. Ride Along is produced by Will Packer (Think Like A Man), Ice Cube, Matt Alvarez (Barbershop) and Larry Brezner (Good Morning, Vietnam). The pic bows wide on January 17, 2014. Check out the teaser trailer that just dropped:
Days after landing a buddy comedy alongside Josh Gad — to go along with a recent renewal for Real Husbands Of Hollywood, the semi-scripted BET comedy he co-created and stars in — Kevin Hart has a stand-up movie hitting theaters just in time for Independence Day. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain follows the comic on tour, onstage and on a rant. (And it’s anyone’s guess what’s going on with the “deerbra” — half-deer and half-zebra.) Codeblack Films acquired the pic in January, and Summit will release it wide July 3. Check out the decidedly red-band trailer:
BREAKING: Screen Gems and Miramax are collaborating on a currently untitled comedy that will star Think Like A Man‘s Kevin Hart and The Book Of Mormon‘s Josh Gad. Jeremy Garelick will make his feature directing debut on the film, which was written under The Golden Tux by Garelick and Jay Lavender back when they were writing partners on films like The Break-Up. They wrote this one for Miramax. In the comedy, Hart plays a charismatic guy who provides best man services for socially challenged guys, who can’t get somebody to agree to stand by them on the day of their wedding. Gad plays a groom-to-be who finds himself in just such a situation, but, to make matters worse, he fabricates the names of not only a best man but nine groomsmen as well. When all else fails, Doug seeks out Jimmy’s services to carry out a charade designed to make Doug look his best but threatens to destroy everything if it fails.
Miramax’s Adam Fields and Will Packer are producing the film. Screen Gems President Clint Culpepper will oversee the project on behalf of Screen Gems. Hart next will be seen in his concert film Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain being released in July. In addition to starring in Screen Gems’ Think Like a Man, Hart will also be seen in Screen Gems’ upcoming projects About Last Night and Think Like a Man Too. Gad just opened in The Internship and the upcoming Jobs and Thanks For Sharing. Read More »
After the six major studios wrapped up their turns in front of the CinemaCon convention goers with 20th Century Fox earlier today, it was Lionsgate‘s turn to carry the flag for the indie sector, even though NATO’s John Fithian said last year that in Lionsgate we are seeing the birth of the “seventh major studio”. And although some of the speakers during the company’s relatively brief presentation this afternoon took up that mantle, Lionsgate in its sizzle reel actually touted the fact that they are the only non-major to actually go over $1 billion in a single year — certainly thanks to the dynamic duo of Summit’s Twilight finales and The Hunger Games, which became the third-highest-grossing film of 2012 with more than $400 million domestically. So are they are a major? A mini-major? A true independent? Or just a money-minting film company with a couple of franchises the real majors would kill for (and in the case of Twilight actually passed on — ouch).
But as befits any wannabe major, a spiffier, more corporate logo was in order, and as Deadline reported earlier they debuted it for the theatre owners here in Las Vegas. As distribution head Richie Fay put it during his turn onstage, “Lionsgate is an overnight success that was 12 years in the making”.
As far as the presentation went, Lionsgate certainly took an independent route from the way the majors have behaved all week, offering a musical-chairs lineup of executives taking their turn in front of delegates who crowded into the Colosseum to check out the product. In addition to Fay, we also heard from CEO and co-founder Jon Feltheimer, co-chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Rob Friedman and AMC theatres exec Elizabeth Frank, who pointed out the company released 20 major films in 2012 and led the field 11 separate weeks. She said her company was looking forward to the 17 movies on tap this year and many of them were showcased for the first time over the course of the 80-minute show emceed by comedian Kevin Hart. Read More »