theGrio’s 100: Will Packer, taking over Hollywood one film at a time

Will Packer attends the 'Think Like a Man' screening at the AMC Empire 25 theater on April 4, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images)

Will Packer attends the 'Think Like a Man' screening at the AMC Empire 25 theater on April 4, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images)

Who is Will Packer?

Will Packer was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. He started making films when he was in college at Florida A&M University, where he graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering. While attending college he met Rob Hardy, who would become his future business partner. In 1993 Packer and Hardy produced their first film, Chocolate City. The film did relatively well and earned them a small distribution deal. Since then Packer co-founded Rainforest Films, a production and distribution company based in Atlanta, GA, and has produced several multi-million dollar box office smashes.

“I come out of what I call the Spike Lee generation of African-American filmmakers. So Spike is who got me started, but John Singleton is also very inspiring. Also Scorsese and David Fincher, because they’ve got vision,” Packer said during a 2007 interview with Variety.

Why is Packer on theGrio’s 100?

In 2012, Packer produced the romantic comedy Think Like A Man, starring a primarily African-American cast, including Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, Gabrielle Union, and Meagan Good. Well before the film was released, critics predicted that it would do well at the box office, but the opening weekend success of the film surpassed the expectations of film critics and has created a swell of positive press for primarily African-American cast movies. The film made back its entire production budget of $12 million in its first day in theaters, and grossed a total of $91.5 million at the domestic box office.

Think Like a Man was not Packer’s only box office Triumph. He also is the mastermind behind 2007’s Stomp the Yard, the film about a step-dancer at a black college, which marched its way to $61 million at the U.S. box office and launched and established Packer as a power player in Hollywood.

What’s next for Packer?

Right now is a very exciting time for Packer.  He has two films scheduled to come out next year:  the thriller No Good Deed, starring Idris Elba and Tarji P. Henson and Ride Along, which features Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, Tika Sumpter, and John Leguizamo. During a recent interview with Black Enterprise Packer said, “I am looking forward to making projects that I feel passionately about and look forward to continuing to do that.”

You can follow Will Packer on Twitter @WillPowerPacker