A star is born, but we’re not talking about Lady Gaga just yet.
Tiffany Haddish returned to multiplexes, this time around with Kevin Hart, for her first co-lead role since the breakout hit “Girls Trip.” The 2017 raunchy comedy with Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith struck a chord with moviegoers and picked up a number of accolades, launching Haddish into superstardom. It’s already been a banner year for the bawdy entertainer, and audiences were eager to see Haddish back on the big screen.
She didn’t disappoint. “Night School” launched with a solid $28 million, notching the best opening for a broad comedy in 2018. Universal’s “Night School” reunited Haddish with “Girls Trip” director Malcolm D. Lee and producer Will Packer, but this attempt didn’t leave quite the same impression on critics. That didn’t matter. Though the longtime box office draw of Hart can’t be discredited, the charm of Haddish was enough to transcend negative word of mouth and fill theaters.
Universal’s head of domestic distribution, Jim Orr, who first got to know Haddish when the studio released “Girls Trip,” says, “She just set the world on fire and continues to do so.”
After her star-making performance in “Girls Trip,” it seems Haddish could do no wrong. Her appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” where the comedienne recounted going on a Cajun swamp tour with Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith, solidified her charisma — and scored her a Groupon partnership. From there, she became the first black female comedian to host “Saturday Night Live,” which won her a guest actress Emmy, and penned the best-selling autobiography “The Last Black Unicorn.” Haddish also landed a lead role opposite Tracey Morgan in “The Last O.G.” and emceed the MTV Music and TV Awards. It seems like everyone in the industry is dying for an opportunity to work with the hottest thing in comedy.
A few have already gotten the chance. Haddish has a slew of movies on the horizon. Next month, “The Oath,” a dark comedy with a political edge co-starring Ike Barinholtz, hits multiplexes in limited release. It has garnered critical praise, but it’ll likely rely on the appeal of Haddish to break through.
In all of the aforementioned titles, Haddish had at least one comedic heavyweight to help carry the load. She’s yet to have a project rest solely on her shoulders. That test will come in November, when she toplines the Paramount Players comedy “Nobody’s Fool.” Sure, it has Tyler Perry’s name attached, but Haddish will be the big draw.
“She is on a roll like no other. It bodes well for her future projects,” Paul Dergarabedian, an analyst with comScore, said. “She’s definitely someone to watch right now.”
All that screen time sparks quiet fears of overexposure for the multi-talent. After all, industry analysts are always quick to declare the death of the movie star. With special effects and beloved franchises, it’s hard out there for an A-lister pull in audiences based on a name alone. Just ask Dwayne Johnson. The all-star wrestler-turned-actor was incapable of a box office misstep — until his luck ended. Johnson starred in five big-budget releases over a span of 14 months, but an underwhelming summer showing generated a slew of headlines pointing to concerns of the Rock fatigue. It wasn’t necessarily that moviegoers were tired of seeing Johnson on the big screen. Audiences simply weren’t interested in the overfamiliar products, such as “Skyscraper,” that he was selling. Perhaps Haddish will be more selective when it comes to her future projects.
“You do have to be careful with over-saturation,” Dergarabedian said. “However, quality generally wins out. “The flip side is you have to strike while the iron is hot and keep the momentum going.”