The Universal Pictures family just got bigger by one person.
The film studio signed a first-look production deal with writer-director-producer Malcolm D. Lee and his Blackmaled Productions. The deal gives the company first dibs on any new material Lee decides to develop. The studio can then decide whether it wants to produce, finance or distribute the finalized project.
Lee started in the industry at the age of 19, after watching his cousin, Spike Lee, become one of the most talked about directors in the field. After the “Do the Right Thing” director advised him to center Black people in his film, he did, starting with “The Best Man,” which he wrote and directed in 1999. Now, 18 years later, Malcolm Lee has added a ninth movie to his portfolio. “Girls Trip,” in theaters July 21, is receiving high praise from critics, who are labeling it the “funniest movie of the summer” and “wonderfully hilarious.”
“Starting with ‘The Best Man,’ Malcolm has an incredible track record telling resonant stories that make audiences laugh and cry, which he has done brilliantly once again with ‘Girls Trip,’” Universal Pictures president of production Peter Cramer said Tuesday in a statement. “We are thrilled to formalize our longstanding relationship with Malcolm by welcoming his company to the lot, and we are excited about making many more films with him, starting with his next film, ‘Night School.’”
This isn’t the first time Universal has worked with Malcolm Lee. The company has been by his side since his directorial debut in “The Best Man,” which grossed $34.57 million. Since then, it has worked with him on five of his nine movies.
“I am extremely gratified to officially be a part of the Universal family. This is a place I’ve always considered my home,” Malcolm Lee said. “They have respected and been supportive of my vision as a filmmaker, and I hope to continue the great success that I’ve had at Universal as we continue this fruitful partnership.”
His upcoming projects include “Night School,” starring Kevin Hart, who also produced it alongside Will Packer. The movie follows a group of misfits who are forced to attend adult classes in an effort to obtain their GED. Malcolm Lee also is working on “The Best Man Wedding,” the third installment in his highly successful franchise.