Feb 20 2014, 5:22pm CST | by Forbes
Back in July, my colleague Vanna Le wrote about comedian Kevin Hart. At the time, Hart had debuted on our Celebrity 100 list (in 95th place) with an estimated $14 million in earnings. Le wrote about the success of Hart’s stand-up comedy movies. Last year’s Let Me Explain grossed $32.3 million on a budget of $2.5 million. Hart financed the movie himself which means he took home almost all of the profits.
It was an impressive showing for a comedian who was relatively unknown by mainstream audiences.
But now, no one can dismiss Hart as just a savvy stand-up comedian. In the past few months he’s shown that he’s a force in Hollywood to be reckoned with and the town is jumping on the Kevin Hart bandwagon. Hart is currently at the helm of two hit movies. Ride Along, which hit theaters a month ago, has grossed $121.5 million on an estimated budget of $25 million. Ride Along 2 is already in development.
The remake of About Last Night has been a smaller hit but it is still poised to make money. The $12.5 million film has grossed $30 million so far and Exhibitor Relations expects the movie will bring in another $12.5 million this weekend.
Then there’s TV. Hart already has one show on the air, Real Husbands of Hollywood which features Hart, Nick Cannon and J.B. Smoove as fictional versions of themselves. Now he has a show going into production at ABC called Keep It Together. Hart will have a recurring role on the show which is he is producing. Upcoming film projects include Finally Famous, which is being directed by Chris Rock, and The Wedding Ringer about a groom who hires someone pose as his best man.
Expect Hart to move further up our Celebrity 100 list this year. The main reason he scored almost near the bottom is that our list measures a mix of fame and money. And while Hart’s earnings were pretty good, his press numbers were on the low side. His fame should skyrocket now.
So why has Hollywood been so slow to turn Hart into the next big thing? Probably because by his own estimates, 6o to 70 percent of his audience is black. Hollywood is notoriously slow to pick up on talent that is outside the (white) mainstream. They first needed to be shown that Hart is an undeniable star.
With his growing stature in Hollywood, Hart will now be able to demand a lot more money per picture. A big part of his appeal at the moment is that he can turn low-budget movies into incredibly profitable hits. But as his quote goes up so will the budgets for his films.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Hart take the smart route here and keep his pay low in return for bigger shares of the profits. It will give him more control over his career and probably net him more money in the long run. In the meantime, he can be happy knowing he’s the most in-demand star in Hollywood.
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Source: Forbes Business
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