Kevin Hart’s Latest Box Office Success Certifies Star Power

about last night Movie

Comedian builds on 'Ride Along' smash with Valentine's Day treat 'About Last Night'

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 and 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, however, Hart has become one of the industry’s sturdiest B.O. players with two major narrative feature hits: Universal’s “Ride Along,” which became the first 2014 release to cross $100 million, 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.

“Ride Along” managed to cross over ethnic lines, however.

During opening weekend, the Universal film surprisingly 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 weekend next year.

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  1. fay says:

    This man is an idiot and obviously should have never written this article due to the fact that he inserted all these unnecessary racial undertones. Race is not attributed to Harts success, he is funny, and people like funny people. And I really want to know how data is collected on what races see what movies. When I buy my ticket I never once have given my race for data collection, I can understand how they can get data from areas with a race majority but I watch movies in racially diverse areas so I don’t how they can get this info.

  2. Jimmy says:

    “African American-themed films” means films starring African Americans?

    Yeah, okay…

  3. Desi says:

    12 Years a Slave was made for white people and not just for the “urban” folks (meaning African Americans).

    The film is a masterpiece and should be seen by everyone. It’s not a feel good, raucous ride like the terrible films such as The Help and Django. Did u call those films urban?

  4. Dex says:

    “…urban-targeted films in general, including… “12 Years a Slave”

    And how, exactly, would films about the Holocaust be labeled? If nothing else, you’ve demonstrated profound stupidity.

  5. Dari says:

    Seriously, what the hell is up with “urban targeted 12 YAS”? REALLY! Ugh, I think this is the same journalist who wrote some typo ridden piece I read last week too. Variety, y’all need to check ya’ writers or hire a damn editor.

  6. sqeesh says:

    Also, if the author had bothered to do the research, he’d know that Hart has been doing films and TV since 2002 (The Last Laugh shows him in a rare dramatic role playing an alcoholic comedian) and he’s been doing stand-up comedy since the late ’90’s—-so he’s hardly what you call an overnight success—he spent years paying his dues, and he’s finally arrived–andhe’s actually funny on top of that.

  7. Twelve Years a Slave is an “urban targeted movie”? Silly me for seeing it as an American History film.

  8. ivorycanvas says:

    TWYAS is an “urban-targeted” film? You’re kidding, right? This article is ridiculous.
    Don’t even get me started on your poor writing skills – “most biggest”.

    • sqeesh says:

      The only reason films with black American stars supposedly don’t make it outside of the U.S. is because they’re aren’t promoted enough outside of the U.S. From what I’ve read, it’s the U.S. film distributors, who have been in the biz over 30-some years, that still have this racist mindset that foreign audiences don’t want to see American films with a primarily black cast. Even Will Smith said some years ago that the main reason his films are successful overseas is because he used to personally go abroad and help to promote them himself.

      It’s been said for years that U.S. films with all-black casts aren’t successful abroad, but I have yet to see any real proof or hard numbers/statistics to actually back this up—it seems to be one of these things that’s just taken for granted, but whose veracity has never actually been proven. And like the other posters said, 12 YEARS A SLAVE isn’t an “urban” film, and just so you know, ALL black people do not live in or grow up in urban areas. Also, as a black filmgoer/film buff, I’m tired of that designation “urban” being lazily slapped on practically every film with an all-black cast, even if they’re not even set in the city,and even if the films aren’t even similar to each other.

  9. cadavra says:

    If Hart is so hot, why didn’t he bring anyone in to GRUDGE MATCH?

  10. Olls says:

    What does best man or 13 years have to do with Kevin hart. It’s worse than lazy journalism it’s plain stupid. Does anyone know how 12 years is urban when its pre industrial? Someone needs to edit these things

  11. Matthew says:

    How the hell is 12 years a slave an urban film?!! I had to stop reading after that comment. I’ve come to expect better from Variety but that was worse than the USA today calling “Best Man Holiday” a black themed movie.

  12. LRO says:

    This is a totally charming romantic comedy with actors who are charming- love that joy bryant – and happen to be black. The fact that no one else is making them left more room for this one against droopy melodramas on a traditional rom com weekend

  13. Michael Maloney says:

    This is a joke review designed to cause outrage, surely? Everyone who finds it offensive can be accused of being a stuffed shirt, no sense of humour,right?

    Kevin hart is an American film star who has achieved box office success this weekend. Congratulations Mr Hart.

    The analysis of the film’s demographic would make a 2nd world war fascist apologist flush with pride at his protégé’s
    first steps.

  14. J Whyte says:

    Why can’t these magazines and bloggers describe a movie that HAPPENS to have a black star or other black cast members in it (other than Will Smith or Denzel Washington) without just using racial and demographic breakdowns???

    It’s always “urban targeted” films…or “African American themed” films.The Best Man Holiday and About Last night were movies about REGULAR ppl…regular good old flesh and blood ppl. The fact that the actors happen to have black skin seems to be attached to the headline with the “oh it was an ok movie too” thrown in as an after thought.

    We never see “Robert Downey Jr scores another hit with white audiences with Iron Man 3. His other Caucasian themed movie Sherlock Homes also did well among among African American audiences, as did other white actor Brad Pitt with his white centric movie”

    It’s 2014 Variety!

  15. Hilary White says:

    “…in order to become one of the most biggest African American stars…” They need a better editor at Variety…

  16. Smooth says:

    Racism, even at Variety, don’t you just love it.

  17. My review of the remake of About Last Night.

  18. TB says:

    Variety, seriously….About Last Night and Twelve Years a Slave have nothing in common besides their main actors’ skin color. Do you not think that to be a really silly way to relate films?

    Also, I think we all know that by “Urban” you mean Black, go ahead and just say that. Because 12 years a Slave spent a good deal of that movie in not-what-you-mean-by-urban areas, and I sincerely doubt it was marketed to only those of us living in high-rises less than 2 blocks away from 5 different starbucks stores. Also, all Black people don’t live in Urban markets….so it isnt really the best euphemism. It breeds images of projects, welfare queens, and The Jefferson’s. Were you going for the Jefferson’s?

  19. Tim says:

    Urban-targeted films somehow set in the suburbs (Best Man Holiday) and the cotton fields of the antebellum south (12 Years a Slave). Euphemism fail to the max.

  20. angie says:

    Until they figure out his movies actually suck. Horrible. Don’t waste your money.

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