Thursday, April 12, 2012

Will Packer, Producer

Producer Will Packer has officially taken the film industry by storm. Having produced two box office hits grossing over $100 Million in one year, Packer is at the top of his game. In September of 2007, Daily Variety magazine was on the right track when they selected Packer as one of their “10 Producers to Watch.” Packer states, “Receiving this honor was great validation for my burgeoning work in Hollywood. As the only African-American honored on this list, I accept the tremendous responsibility that this represents to make movies that matter as well as have commercial appeal.” Packer further states, “I look forward to continuing to promote imagery that has not traditionally been pushed by mainstream Hollywood.” Packer has also been acknowledged on several high profile lists including; Giant Magazine’s “The Giant 100”, Jet Magazine’s “Who’s Hot To Watch in 2008” and Black Enterprise Magazine’s “Most Powerful Players Under 40.” In March of 2008, Packer and his business partner Rob Hardy were honored by Black Enterprise as one of the “Top 25 Money Makers in Hollywood”. Other honorees included Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, Queen Latifah, Chris Tucker and Tyler Perry.

As Co-Founder and Chairman of the Atlanta based production company, Rainforest Films, Packer is responsible for producing and overseeing the company’s studio financed and self-financed films and distribution projects. He co-founded Rainforest Films with his partner Rob Hardy in the summer of 1994 while both were engineering students at Florida A & M University. After graduating magna cum laude from Florida A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1996, Packer decided to forego lucrative job offers in the field of engineering to capitalize on his entrepreneurial instincts and his passion for filmmaking. His tenacious and visionary leadership fueled the production and led to the successful independent distribution of the company’s first theatrically released motion picture Trois. Trois grossed $1.2 million dollars and became the fastest million dollar grossing film distributed by African Americans. Based on the company’s success as an independent distributor, Packer brokered a profitable partnership between Rainforest Films and Sony’s Screen Gems to produce and distribute urban films. This partnership also resulted in Packer overseeing production and distribution budgets of numerous urban-themed releases that included titles: Trois: The Escort, Motives and the independent breakout hit film, The Gospel. Next, Packer brokered a deal to produce actor Mekhi Phifer’s feature film directorial debut, Puff Puff Pass before returning to Atlanta to produce the company’s largest project to date, Stomp The Yard, which held the #1 position at the box office for two weekends in January of 2007 and received the 2007 Movie of the Year honors from the BET Hip Hop Awards. Shortly after, Packer enjoyed the success of his 2007 holiday film, This Christmas, which starred Regina King, Loretta Devine, Delroy Lindo, Mekhi Phifer, Columbus Short and Chris Brown, which opened a strong #2 at the box office on Thanksgiving weekend in 2007.

While many filmmakers struggle to line up top talent in their films, the talent starring in Packer’s films read like a “who’s who” in music and entertainment. In April of 2009, Obsessed, a femme -fatal thriller starring Beyonce Knowles, Idris Elba and Ali Larter, will release nationwide. Another star-studded film on the horizon is the action movie Takers, starring Matt Dillon, Idris Elba, Paul Walker, Hayden Christensen, TI, Chris Brown, Michael Ealy, Jay Hernandez and Zoe Saldana, which is slated to release in January of 2010.

Packer is also busy preparing several future projects including the urban remake of the classic film The Big Chill, which will star Regina King and is set to begin production in 2009, as well as the yet to be titled Kemba Smith story which Packer recently picked up the life rights to. The Kemba Smith story is a dramatic story about young girl who made headlines after President Bill Clinton granted her clemency from a 24.5-year prison sentence for conspiracy to sell drugs. This compelling story is one that other high profile filmmakers have pursued with great interest, yet Kemba Smith chose Packer to tell her story. Packer is currently working on securing the creative team for this project.

Mr. Packer is a dynamic and inspiring speaker who delivers educational and motivational speeches to industry groups, as well as youth and community groups nationwide. He has been honored with the key to the city of St. Petersburg, FL, and “Will Packer Day” has been proclaimed in the cities of Chattanooga, TN and Fort Lauderdale, FL. Packer has also been honored with the Meritorious Achievement Award from his alma mater Florida A&M University, the highest honor the University bestows.

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