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.
‘Ride Along 2′ Gets Rolling: Tim Story To Direct, Will Packer To Produce With Deals Closing For Kevin Hart and Ice Cube
EXCLUSIVE: It was inevitable after the huge success of Ride Along that 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.
Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Sets Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet And Kevin Hart For 3D Animated ‘Pets’ Pic At Universal
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.
BOX OFFICE: ‘Vampire Academy’ Out of Valentine’s Day; Now Its Sony’s ‘RoboCop’ v Sony’s Kevin Hart Pic ‘About Last Night’
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 Along is 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.
Screen Gems, Miramax At Altar On Buddy Comedy; Kevin Hart, Josh Gad Star And Jeremy Garelick Directs
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.
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.