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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Will Packer
Born (1974-04-11) April 11, 1974 (age 48)
Alma materFlorida A&M University (BS)
OccupationFilm producer
Years active1994–present
Notable credits
Nina Packer
(m. 2001; div. 2009)
Heather Hayslett
(m. 2015)

Will Packer (born April 11, 1974) is an American film producer who founded Will Packer Productions,[1] and Will Packer Media.[2] Packer has produced or executive produced a wide range of movies that have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide at the box office, including 10 films that have opened at number one. He has produced more than 30 features including big-screen hit comedies such as Think Like a Man (2012), Ride Along (2014), Think Like a Man Too (2014), The Wedding Ringer (2015), Girls Trip (2017), Night School (2018), What Men Want (2019)[3][4] and Little (2019). He also produced the 2022 Academy Awards Oscars ceremony, and received a 2022 Emmy award nomination as Producer, Outstanding Variety Special Live, for the Oscars.

Early life and education

Packer was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. He graduated from St. Petersburg High School in 1991 and began attending Florida A&M University that fall. In 1996, Packer graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering.[5] On October 29, 2021, FAMU personally honored Packer by renaming its amphitheater the Will Packer Amphitheater. Packer also received the Meritorious Achievement Award from Florida A&M, the highest honor the university bestows.


Rainforest Films

It was at FAMU that he started filmmaking with colleague and future business partner Rob Hardy while participating in an internship with veteran producer Warrington Hudlin.[6] In 1994, Packer and Hardy produced their first film, Chocolate City,[7] for $20,000 and Packer helped broker a small distribution deal with Blockbuster video.[8] After graduating, Packer and Hardy moved to Atlanta, Georgia and co-founded Rainforest Films. Packer produced and oversaw the company's studio-financed and self-financed films and distribution projects.[9][10] Packer and Hardy's vision was to make films that would appeal to black audiences who hadn't seen genre films starring people like themselves.

In 2000, Trois, Rainforest Film's first movie to be released theatrically, grossed over $1.2 million and became the fastest million-dollar grossing film independently distributed by African Americans.[9][10] Trois was in the Top 50 Highest Grossing Independent Films of the year, according to Daily Variety,[11] and Rainforest Films was at #34 on the list of Top 100 Film Distributors of 2000 listed by The Hollywood Reporter in August 2001. Due to the success of their first film, Packer and Hardy were listed among the "New Establishment" of Black power brokers in Hollywood.[10][12][13]

In 2001, Packer helped broker a deal with Sony to produce and distribute urban films including Trois's sequel, Trois: The Escort, and Motives.[10][14] The film Lockdown, released on home video under this Rainforest-Sony collaboration. In 2005, Rainforest Films released The Gospel.[13] At this time, Packer started using the shortened moniker "Will Packer".

Packer and Hardy wanted Rainforest's films to include established actors and actresses as well as those who are up and coming. 2007's This Christmas, a film about a middle-class family that reunites at Christmas time for the first time in many years, stars veteran actresses Loretta Devine and Regina King as well as R&B superstar Chris Brown in his feature film debut.[15] Packer produced five #1 films with Rainforest, Stomp the Yard, Obsessed, Takers, Think like a Man and Ride Along. His biggest hits with Rainforest have been Think like a Man, which grossed over $96 million worldwide after being released in April 2012,[16] and Ride Along, which brought in box office receipts totaling nearly $150 million as of April 2014.[17]

In television, Packer, along with Andrew Young, Martin Luther King III, and Rainforest Films partner Rob Hardy, are co-founders of Bounce TV, a United States television network airing on digital terrestrial television stations. Promoted as "the first 24/7 digital multicast broadcast network created exclusively for African Americans," Bounce TV launched on September 26, 2011 and features programming geared toward blacks and African Americans in the 25–54 age range.[18]

In June 2014, Packer and Hardy dissolved Rainforest Films. The pair were included in a lawsuit brought by former business partner Bernard Bronner in late June 2014.[19]

Will Packer Productions

In 2013, Packer launched Will Packer Productions. In July 2013, he signed a two-year deal with Universal Television to develop new projects for the studio.[20] Later that year, he signed a three-year deal with Universal Pictures.[21] Packer-produced films under the Will Packer Productions banner include #1 box office openers Ride Along 2, No Good Deed and Think Like a Man Too along with The Wedding Ringer and Girls Trip. Girls Trip was the highest grossing live action comedy of 2017[22] and the first film written, directed, produced, and starring African-Americans to gross over $100 million.[23] The film went on to gross $140 million on a $19 million budget. Packer also served as executive producer on NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton and on 2016 television mini-series Roots.

He has produced the comedies Night School (2018), starring Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish, What Men Want (2019), starring Taraji P. Henson, and Little (2019), starring Marsai Martin and Regina Hall, The Photograph (2020), starring Issa Rae[24] and LaKeith Stanfield, and Beast (2022), starring Idris Elba.  Packer has been included in several high-profile lists, including The Hollywood Reporter's "40(ish) Most Powerful People in Comedy",[25] GIANT magazine's "The GIANT 100", Jet magazine's "Who's Hot To Watch in 2008" and Black Enterprise's "Most Powerful Players Under 40."[26]

Will Packer Media

In 2017, Packer launched Will Packer Media, a branded content and digital production company, in partnership with Discovery Communications and Universal Pictures.[27] As part of the launch, the company acquired digital ad firm Narrative_[28] to serve as the new venture's branded content arm, WP Narrative. In 2018, Will Packer Media acquired women's lifestyle site xoNecole.[29]

Will Packer Media produces episodic scripted and unscripted series across television and digital platforms, as well as content for brand clients and short-form digital content for millennial audiences. Current productions include Ready to Love and Put a Ring On It for OWN, and That Girl Lay Lay for Nickelodeon. Will Packer Media also produces scripted and unscripted podcasts with iHeart Media including Fight Night and The Lower Bottoms.[citation needed]

Packer served as the executive producer of the remake of Roots, for which he received an Emmy Award nomination. The company's WP Narrative_ division was a 2018 Webby Award Winner[30] and 10th Annual Shorty Award winner[31] for its work producing video short #TakeAKnee. WP Narrative was also honored for its #BackedByAxe campaign created for Showtime's Billions, winning at the Clio Entertainment awards,[32] 10th Annual Shorty Awards[33] and 2018 D&AD Awards.[34]

Central Ave, an entertainment magazine series, debuted November 4, 2019 on Fox television stations.[35]

2022 Oscar ceremony

Packer was named the Producer of the 94th Annual Academy Awards which aired on March 27, 2022. This marked his first "live" television production credit for a major show on a major television network (ABC) and was televised in more than 200 territories worldwide. The 94th Oscars was the highest-rated entertainment special in primetime on any network in two years in both total viewers (16.6 million) and adults 18-49 (3.8/28).

Personal life

Packer is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity (inducted into the Beta Nu Chapter at FAMU).[36][37] Packer married his first wife Nina Packer (general manager of Bryant Management and Dir. Of Operations for Blueprint Group, the artist management firm for Lil' Wayne and his YMCMB label from 2007-2014) in July 2001 and they have two daughters together, Nija Packer and Maya Packer. They were divorced in February 2009.[38] Packer proposed to his fiancé Heather Hayslett live on stage at the 2013 Essence Music Festival.[39] They were married in August 2015 in Georgia.[40]


Feature films



  1. ^ "Will Packer | Will Packer Productions". Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  2. ^ Media, Will Packer. "Narrative_: an integrated, story-driven marketing solutions agency". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  3. ^ RYAN FAUGHNDER (August 8, 2017). "'Girls Trip' producer Will Packer finds success by targeting an underserved audience". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  4. ^ "Will Packer". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  5. ^ Thornton, Cedric (May 29, 2014). "The American Black Film Festival: 10 Facts About Will Packer". Black Enterprise Magazine. Retrieved March 28, 2022.
  6. ^ Jasfly, By. "FAMU-FSU College of Engineering :: Will Packer, the Hollywood Hitmaker". Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  7. ^ "Will Packer". IMDb. Retrieved July 24, 2021.
  8. ^ "Campus Campaign To Sell His Movie Rob Hardy And Buddies From Florida A&m Made The Circuit Of African American Colleges Plugging His Erotic Thriller, "Trois." - philly-archives". March 14, 2000. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Rainforest Films". Rainforest Films. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  10. ^ a b c d "About The Company" (Press release). Rainforest Films. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008.
  11. ^ Variety Staff (July 26, 2001). "Limited release B.O. winners – 2000". Variety. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  12. ^ "PANEL: A Conversation With Will Packer And Rob Hardy Of Rainforest Films". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Unlikely pair win fans with 'Gospel'". Los Angeles Times. October 10, 2005. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
  14. ^ "Rainforest Films". Archived from the original on December 30, 2008.
  15. ^ "This Christmas (2007)". Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  16. ^ "Think Like a Man (2012)". Box Office Mojo. July 8, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  17. ^ "Ride Along (2014)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  18. ^ Molloy, Tim (September 25, 2011). "Black-Oriented Bounce TV Begins, Betting on Classic Movies". Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  19. ^ "EUR Exclusive: 'Think Like a Man Too' Producers Sued for Gross Mismanagement, Abuse of Control". April 25, 2014. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  20. ^ Lesley Goldberg (July 9, 2013). "Film Producer Will Packer Inks Overall Deal With Universal TV". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  21. ^ Fleming, Mike (October 31, 2013). "Universal Makes First-Look Feature Pact With Hitmaking Producer Will Packer". Deadline. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  22. ^ ""Girls Trip" Just Broke A Major Milestone & The Timing Couldn't Be More Perfect". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  23. ^ "'Girls Trip' Crosses $100 Million at Domestic Box Office". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  24. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (May 3, 2018). "Issa Rae Joins 'Black-ish' Star Marsai Martin In 'Little' From Universal & Will Packer Productions". Deadline. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  25. ^ "The 40(ish) Most Powerful People in Comedy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  26. ^ "Jet - Google Books". Johnson Publishing Company. January 14, 2008. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  27. ^ "Will Packer Starting Production Company With Backing From Discovery and Universal". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  28. ^ "Newly launched Will Packer Media acquires creative and tech agency Narrative". The Drum. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  29. ^ Spangler, Todd (January 18, 2018). "Will Packer Media Acquires Women's Lifestyle Site xoNecole". Variety. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  30. ^ "Take A Knee | The Webby Awards". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  31. ^ "#TakeAKnee - The Shorty Awards". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  32. ^ "Billions - #BackedByAxe". Clios. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  33. ^ "#BackedByAxe - The Shorty Awards". Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  34. ^ "#BackedByAxe WP Narrative_ |SHOWTIME Networks |D&AD Awards 2018 Pencil Winner |Use of Social Media". DandAD. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  35. ^ Albiniak, Paige (October 28, 2019). "Fox Prepares to Step Out on Central Ave". Broadcasting & Cable. 149 (10): 19.
  36. ^ "News Headlines – Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University 2012". December 7, 2006. Retrieved February 2, 2012.
  37. ^ ”FAMU’s Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. Receives College Chapter of the Year Award”, July 25, 2008. Accessed May 3, 2009.
  38. ^ "Producer Will Packer Proposes During Essence Music Festival… [PHOTOS + VIDEO]". Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  39. ^ "Will Packer Proposes Live at the 2013 ESSENCE Festival". Retrieved May 19, 2016.
  40. ^ "JUST MARRIED: Hollywood Producer Will Packer & Heather Hayslett Tie The Knot In Surprise Backyard Wedding! | The Young, Black, and Fabulous®". August 30, 2015. Retrieved May 19, 2016.

External links

This page was last edited on 17 February 2023, at 15:28
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