EXCLUSIVE: Ride Along director Tim Story has signed a two-year first-look deal with HBO to produce comedy, drama and longform projects for the pay cable network through his The Story Company banner. This marks a return to TV for Story, who directed the pilot for the Fox drama Standoff and served as an executive producer on the series. In features, Story is on a hot streak with back-to-back breakout comedies starring Kevin Hart, Think Like A Man and Ride Along, both of which scored at the boxoffice and earned sequels, also directed by Story. The first sequel, Think Like A Man Too, opens this weekend. In total, Story has directed four movies that have spawned franchises, including his studio debut, 2002′s Barbershop, which also got a TV series spinoff, and Fantastic Four, whose sequel he also directed. Story comes from music background as a member of a rap group. He started his filmmaking career directing music videos for top artists like ’N Sync and Tyrese. HBO has been beefing up its talent roster through first-look deals, including producing pacts with directors Darren Aronofsky and Michelle MacLaren, entrepreneur Russell Simmons and True Blood stars Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer.
‘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.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired Ride Along out of turnaround from New Line and the studio has set a late October production start with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube starring, and Tim Story directing. The comedy, which has drafts from scribes that include The Dictator co-star Jason Mantzoukas, will get a rewrite from the scribe team of Matt Manfredi & Phil Hay.
The film will be produced by Cube Vision’s Ice Cube, LBI Entertainment’s Matt Alvarez with Rainforest Films’ Will Packer, and by Larry Brezner. The project had languished at New Line, partly over trying to figure out the leads, but Universal was ready to move quickly in reteaming Story, Hart and Packer after Think Like A Man, a sleeper hit that has grossed $91 million domestic for Screen Gems. Hart will play a second-grade teacher who is ready to get married, but first he must survive a Training Day-like ride-along experience with his fiancee’s tough cop brother, who doesn’t want the marriage to happen and tries to scare off the suitor.
Screen Gems has set the cast to surround Kevin Hart in Think Like A Man, the comedy based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling book. Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Taraji Henson, Romany Malco, Gary Owen and Gabrielle Union have joined the cast. Tim Story is directing a script by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman. Will Packer is producing through his Rainforest Films banner. Harvey is exec producer alongside Rushion McDonald and Rob Hardy. Production will start this summer. Hart plays a relationship expert who is quick to give advice even as his marriage is crashing.
UPDATE: Sony has given the film a wide-release date: April 6, 2012.
PREVIOUS, EXCLUSIVE: Screen Gems has set Tim Story to direct Think Like A Man, the ensemble comedy based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling 2009 book Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. Story, who directed the two Fantastic Four films and Barbershop, will start production in July. Kevin Hart stars as a self-professed relationship expert who is quick to give advice to his crew of friends, even as his own marriage heads toward divorce. The comedy’s scripted by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman. Will Packer’s producing through his Rainforest Films banner and Harvey is exec producing with Rushion McDonald and Rob Hardy. The book has sold more than 2 million copies. UTA reps Story.