Kevin Hart explains why he ditched movie theatres for his stand-up specials and chose Netflix instead

NetflixNetflix’s ‘Kevin Hart: Irresponsible.’
  • Kevin Hart released three of his stand-up shows theatrically and made over $US63.5 million total at the box office.
  • That’s a good chunk of change for an art form audiences rarely want to see in a movie theatre.
  • But Hart has pivoted and will now release his stand-up specials on Netflix.
  • “It’s a better deal because it’s more global,” Hart told Business Insider. “With me trying to get to a space where my movies are having more and more box-office success all over the globe, something that can be in Germany, Spain, and Australia all at the same time, these are all markets that I’m currently frequenting so that was just a smart move.”
  • And Hart could use the jolt. In the last five years, most of the movies he’s starred in earned more domestically than internationally.
  • In the movie business right now, a star’s true worth to a studio is often what they can draw overseas rather than in the US.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Before becoming a big box-office draw in comedies, Kevin Hart was filling theatres thanks to his stand-up work.

Hart released three stand-up specials theatrically – “Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain” (2011), “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain” (2013), and “Kevin Hart: What Now?” (2016) – and they combined to make over $US63.5 million. That’s not bad for a type of entertainment that is rarely given a theatrical presence.

“Let Me Explain” was only released on 876 screens its opening weekend, but grossed $US10 million. That’s a healthy $US11,450 per-screen average. It was larger than one of the big blockbusters that opened on the same weekend, “The Lone Ranger,” starring Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp, which had $US7,482 per-screen.

If any studio needed reassurance that Hart could carry a movie, his specials proved it. They were also a big moneymakers for him, as his HartBeat Productions company was behind them.

Read more: The share of Americans watching Amazon and Hulu has soared in recent months, while other streaming services lag behind

But Hart said he’s done with theatrically releasing his stand-up. He’s now taking his talents to Netflix.

“It’s a better deal because it’s more global,” Hart told Business Insider of the decision to do his stand-up on Netflix. “With me trying to get to a space where my movies are having more and more box-office success all over the globe, something that can be in Germany, Spain, and Australia all at the same time, these are all markets that I’m currently frequenting so that was just a smart move.”

Though it’s very likely Hart got a sweet deal to make stand-up specials for Netflix, it also makes sense that the actor wants a more global presence.

In a time in the business when an actor’s international box-office draw is often more important to a studio than their domestic one, being on Netflix is a strategic manoeuvre by Hart to heighten his brand outside of the US. And it could use a jolt. Other than “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and “The Secret Life of Pets” (which were both ensemble-heavy movies), all the movies starring Hart in the last five years have grossed more domestically than international.

Hart currently has one special on Netflix, “Kevin Hart: Irresponsible,” and says he’s working on material for a second (the stand-up specials he released theatrically are also currently available on Netflix).

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