Universal Pictures is entering into a first-look production agreement with writer, director and producer Malcolm D. Lee and his Blackmaled Productions. Lee most recently directed and produced Universal Pictures’ highly-anticipated comedy Girls Trip, which will be released in North America on July 21. The announcement was made by Peter Cramer, President of Production, Universal Pictures.
“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,” said Cramer. “We are thrilled to formalize our long-standing 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.”
“I am extremely gratified to officially be a part of the Universal family,” said Lee. “This is a place I’ve always considered my home. 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.”
With family roots embedded in the arts, entertainment and education, Lee has been making films since the age of 12, and has been working professionally in the entertainment industry since age 17 as a production assistant, apprentice film editor, casting associate and director’s assistant to his cousin, legendary filmmaker Spike Lee.
Lee has directed five of his nine films to date with Universal beginning with his directorial debut, the critically acclaimed audience favorite The Best Man, which debuted in October of 1999, and scored a No. 1 ranking at the box office. He went on to direct the action-comedy Undercover Brother in May 2002 and again earned stellar reviews. His third feature, Roll Bounce debuted in September 2005.
With his next two films, Lee continued to use his voice to tell the heartfelt and nuanced stories of lives not often seen in mainstream studio films with the comedies Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins, starring Martin Lawrence, Mo’Nique, and Cedric The Entertainer, and Soul Men starring Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac. Both films opened in 2008. However it was the sequel to his first film where Lee scored his biggest box-office hit. In November of 2013, with the original cast reunited, The Best Man Holiday, grossed $30.5 million in its opening weekend alone. April of 2016 saw the release of the critically acclaimed, Barbershop, The Next Cut starring Ice Cube, Regina Hall, Cedric the Entertainer, and Anthony Anderson, and this week will see his latest film Girls Trip, starring Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish hit theaters nationwide.
Among his upcoming feature projects, Lee is in pre-production to direct his sixth directorial outing with Universal, Night School, starring Kevin Hart, and produced by Hart and Will Packer, as well as the next installment of the popular Best Man franchise, The Best Man Wedding, which he will write and direct.
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Tafi Mukunyadzi is a journalist working for the Associated Press in Chicago, Illinois. She’s a lover of words, food, fashion and makeup, who was born in Zimbabwe and raised in Arkansas.