Universal and Imagine plan to start production this summer following the NBA playoffs
LeBron James’ feature film debut project is heating up again, as comedian Kevin Hart will join the NBA champion in Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment's “Ballers,” an individual familiar with the project told TheWrap.
The diminutive Hart may appear small next to James but he's a big star, with the hit comedy “Think Like a Man” under his belt and the upcoming “Ride Along” shaping up to be a potential franchise at Universal.
“Ballers” will find Hart playing LeBron's brother, who gets a chance to emerge from James’ towering shadow when he attends a fantasy basketball camp in Miami.
Brian Grazer and Michael Rosenberg will produce “Ballers” for Imagine, which was forced to put the project on the back burner in 2011 after James’ Miami Heat lost in the NBA Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. James would've come under fire if he spent the summer shooting a movie rather than working on his game. Now that he has two championship rings, naysayers will have a hard time questioning his summer vacation plans.
Hart and James will executive produce with Maverick Carter and Imagine's Kim Roth.
Production is scheduled to start in the summer of 2014. In the meantime, Hart will co-write the comedy with his frequent collaborators Joey Wells, Chris Spencer and Harry Ratchford. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel were the original writers on the project along with Peter Steinfeld.
While James has a killer crossover and a mean jumpshot, it remains to be seen if he can crossover and make the jump to features the same way that Michael Jordan did in “Space Jam.”
Hart next stars opposite Ice Cube in Universal's “Ride Along,” and he'll also be seen in Screen Gems’ remake of “About Last Night” and Chris Rock's “Finally Famous.” He's repped by UTA and 3 Arts Entertainment.
The news was first reported by Deadline.