Universal has tapped Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 co-writer Erica Rivinoja to pen Will Packer‘s untitled Girl’s Trip comedy. Packer, coming off of the Universal hit Ride Along, set this up last month as his …
‘Ride Along’ Producer Will Packer Sets Up First Film At Universal, Comedy ‘Girls Trip’ With Malcolm Lee Directing; ‘Ride Along 2′ Will Start Shooting This Summer
BREAKING: Will Packer, who produced the $123.1M-to-date grosser Ride Along with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube and currently has two pictures in the box office Top 10 with About Last Night (also a Hart vehicle that has grossed $38M in two weeks), has set up his next film with Universal Pictures via his Will Packer Productions banner. It’s a comedy, Girls Trip, with Best Man’s Holiday helmer Malcolm D. Lee set to direct. It has yet to set a writer. Ride Along 2 will be Packer’s next picture with Tim Story at the helm, it was just confirmed. Ice Cube and Kevin Hart recently closed a deal to reprise their roles as the quick-witted security guard (Hart) who has his eye on his partner’s (Cube’s) sister. The sequel will start shooting a week after Think Like A Man 2 opens on June 20, 2014.
Lee, of course, recently directed Best Man Holiday for Universal which has grossed over $71.6M worldwide. Details of the new project are being kept under wraps. Packer has risen as a formidable producer in recent years, earning him the nickname, Will “Power” Packer. His buddy comedy Ride Along opened to a record $48.6M over the four-day Martin Luther King holiday weekend this year for Universal. Sony then scheduled his The Wedding Ringer, which he is producing with Adam Fields, for the MLK holiday in 2015. Wedding Ringer is a Jeremy Garelick-written and -directed comedy starring Hart again. The bankable Packer also produced Think Like a Man, which grossed $96M worldwide.
‘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.
Will Packer Productions, coming off the opening-weekend box office success of the producer’s Universal Pictures action comedy Ride Along, has hired UTA motion picture literary agent Barbara Dreyfus as head of motion pictures. She is one of the first key hires for Packer’s new shingle, which launched in October when he inked a three-year, first-look producing deal with the studio and set up operations on the lot. Dreyfus spent the past 13 years at UTA repping writers, directors and producers, and before that was an agent at ICM where she spent eight years in the motion picture literary department. She began her agent career at the InterTalent. “I’m thrilled to have Barbara on my team,” Packer said. “Her impeccable taste in material and great relationships across the creative community will be key assets as we establish and expand our Will Packer Productions brand. Additionally, she shares my passion for quality commercial material.”
As part of the deal, Dreyfus’ clients will remain in the UTA fold repped by their UTA agent teams.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has made a three-year first-look producing deal with Will Packer, who has displayed a golden touch for generating modestly priced urban-flavored comedies that do strong domestic box office business. Packer is forming a new film label, Will Packer Productions, which will be moving to the Universal lot. He will begin staffing up right away and soon will name an exec to head his company. And he will become an active buyer of pitches and specs, not only in comedy but dramas and thrillers. While he built his business with urban-themed fare, Packer will get the chance to broaden those horizons at Universal. All this comes after Packer worked with the studio for the first time on Ride Along, the mismatched-buddy comedy that stars Ice Cube and Kevin Hart which the studio releases January 17. Packer produced the film with Cube, Matt Alvarez and Larry Brezner. Universal is already hard at work on the sequel, and Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley snatched him up.
Packer, whose television company is already at Universal Television in a two-year deal he signed in July, is one of the few non-writing African-American producers to have been set in an overall deal with a major studio. He never had an overall at Screen Gems, but there, Packer produced four films that opened in the top weekend slot in U.S. box office: Stomp The Yard, Takers, Obsessed and Think Like A Man.
Jen Yamato is a Deadline contributor.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will make its official debut at the Sundance Film Festival with an event featuring new member Will Packer, producer of such films as last year’s Think Like A Man, 2007’s Stomp The Yard and the 2009 Beyonce Knowles starrer Obsessed. Co-presented with The Blackhouse Foundation, an organization that promotes black filmmakers at festivals around the country, the inaugural Sundance edition of “Academy Conversations” will take place at 3:30 PM January 19 at Park City’s Buona Vita. Blackhouse Foundation chairman Brickson Diamond will moderate the discussion. In addition to the aforementioned Sony/Screen Gems movies, Packer’s Rainforest Films produced and self-distributed successful urban titles including 2000’s thriller Trois, which spawned two sequels and launched the feature directing career of Stomp The Yard’s Sylvain White. Saturday’s event will be followed by a reception “addressing such initiatives as Awards qualification rules, filmmaker engagement, educational programs, festival grants and membership” with Academy execs Randy Haberkamp, Patrick Harrison and Torene Svitil in attendance.
Kevin Hart will star in Think Like A Man, the Screen Gems comedy based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling 2009 book Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. The book is a male-perspective self-help manual for relationships, with topics that included everything from why men cheat, to why men are in the fixing business and not in the talking business, to how to get the wedding ring and why independent women should reconnect with their girlish side to make their men feel necessary. Like I said, it’s from a male perspective. In the film, Hart will play a self-professed relationship expert who is quick to give advice to his crew of friends, even as he watched his own marriage crater and head toward divorce. The comedy’s scripted by Keith Merryman & David A. Newman, and Screen Gems’ Clint Culpepper is out to directors for a July production start. Will Packer’s producing through his Rainforest Films banner and Harvey is exec producing with Rushion McDonald and Rob Hardy.