While comedian Kevin Hart’s comedic star is on the rise, his status as a Hollywood power broker has also been elevated.
Independently releasing his stand-up film Laugh at My Pain this weekend on only 97 screens, the Soul Plane star found his project picking up over $2 million. At a solid per-theater average of $20,000 for the movie, which played in 25 markets, including Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta, the film not only out-paced much of the box-office competition, it did so without the backing of a major Hollywood studio.
Comprised primarily of footage shot during one of Hart's shows at the Nokia Theater last February, the film was produced for only $750,000 by Jeff Clanagan, chief executive of the independent (and African-American-owned) production company Codeblack Entertainment, which distributed the movie domestically in AMC Theaters. Hart’s Hartbeat Productions co-produced the film.
With a barebones marketing plan, primarily using Hart's social media following and an ad spot on VH1’s Basketball Wives, Clanagan says he was able to connect directly to Hart’s core audience.
"It's a lot easier to reach your target audience these days," Clanagan told the Los Angeles Times. "On Facebook we just asked our fans, 'Hey, we're gonna expand the movie, what market are you in?' And we had 6,000 responses in an hour that showed me, for instance, that we need to go to places like Boston next. We asked fans what key art we should use, and they had a different opinion than what we'd initially chosen — so we changed the art based on that feedback."
Laugh at My Pain will expand domestically to 58 additional theaters next weekend.
(Photo: Anthony Harvey/PictureGroup)