The announcement comes on the heels of Hart’s solid box office performance in “The Upside,” in which he co-stars with Bryan Cranston. STX’s comedic drama, co-produced with Lantern Entertainment, topped expectations by opening in first place at the North American box office and has generated $47 million in its first 11 days of release.
“STX came in to make ‘The Upside’ the success it is. Their strategy, execution and collaborative approach are perfectly aligned with HartBeat Productions’ values,” said Hart. “It was an easy ‘yes’ when they pitched us two new ideas to produce together.”
The first project is a body switching comedy titled “Black Friday” and based on a story by Doan La. The second is an untitled international romantic comedy that’s looking to attach a writer. Hart and John Cheng, HartBeat’s president of production, will produce both titles. HartBeat’s Carli Haney will oversee with STXfilms’ Drew Simon.
“It’s crystal clear audiences love Kevin and they want to see him in a variety of roles,” said Adam Fogelson, chairman of STXfilms. “This partnership allows STXfilms to take the successful collaboration we started with ‘The Upside’ and extend it to new projects that further build on our mission to work with the best in the business to grow our profitable business model.”
Cheng added, “STX has a proven ability to tell crowd-pleasing, globally appealing stories in the mid-budget sweet spot. When they approached Kevin and me with pitches that we felt we could creatively sink our teeth into, we recognized we were in good hands with an innovative partner that would help us produce two funny and original films with the potential to reach audiences around the world.”
The announcement is another signal that the busy Hart has moved beyond last month’s selection as host of this year’s Academy Awards and his bowing out following controversy surrounding past homophobic tweets. Earlier this month, Lionsgate said Hart had been in talks to star in the studio’s live-action Monopoly movie, which he will also produce through HartBeat Productions.
Hart’s collaborations with Lionsgate include the joint venture Laugh Out Loud channel, the unscripted TV series “Kevin Hart: What the Fit” for YouTube, and the concert film “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain.” His HartBeat Productions produced “Night School,” the TV series “The Next Level,” and “Hart of the City” on Comedy Central.
STXfilms’ upcoming slate of films include “Best of Enemies” “UglyDolls” and “Poms.”
Hart is represented by UTA, 3 Arts and Schreck Rose Dapello & Adams. La is represented by the Gersh Agency.