Director Rob Hardy and Producer William Packer created Rainforest Films in 1994, on the eve of the success of their first film Chocolate City. Shortly thereafter, the duo began producing a myriad of corporate pieces as their film was distributed to video stores.
One of their most successful projects, Stomp The Yard (Sony/Screen Gems), grossed over $65 million dollars and held the #1 position at the box office for two weekends in January of 2007. Later that year the company produced This Christmas (Sony/Screen Gems), which made $50 million dollars. The success of both projects landed the duo amongst the Top 25 Entertainers and Moneymakers according to Black Enterprise Magazine (January 2008).
After moving to Atlanta, Rainforest blossomed with its spellbinding film Trois. Remarkably, the picture was funded, produced, and distributed independently. Trois became the fastest African-American distributed film to ever surpass the million-dollar mark. This achievement landed Rainforest Films at the #34 spot of Top 500 Film Distributors of 2000 listed by Hollywood Reporter (August 2001), and resulted in the picture being in the Top 50 Highest Grossing Independent Films of the Year according to Daily Variety (July 30, 2001).
Soon after, Rainforest Films produced the mesmerizing Pandora’s Box. This motion picture earned the star of the film, actress Monica Calhoun (The Best Man), an award for “Best Actress” from the 2002 American Black Film Festival. The film was later released to theatres and generated a respectable box office, further solidifying the company as a top tier independent theatrical distributor.
Rainforest soon acquired the rights to Lockdown. This dramatic prison piece also received a limited theatrical run via Rainforest Films and has subsequently become a financial juggernaut on home video, making it one of Columbia Tri-Star’s top selling independent releases. As a result, Rob Hardy and William Packer were listed amongst the “New Establishment” of Black Power Brokers in Hollywood (Hollywood Reporter – December 10, 2002).
Next came Motives, starring Vivica A. Fox and Shemar Moore and then the Isaiah Washington vehicle, Trois: The Escort, soon followed. After creating an MTV film project with mega-star Usher Raymond (Hollywood Reporter- July 21, 2004), Rainforest Films produced the indie breakout hit film titled The Gospel. Released in October 2005 by Sony/Screen Gems, this faith-based film starred Boris Kodjoe, Nona Gaye and Idris Elba, and featured new songs by Kirk Franklin. A companion concert video entitled The Gospel Live, soon followed. After teaming with both Sony and Lion’s Gate to produce Mekhi Phifer’s directorial debut Puff Puff Pass, Rainforest produced Motives 2: Retribution as well as the sequel Three Can Play That Game, both for Sony.
Most recently Will Packer was named one of the Top 10 Producers to Watch, by Variety Magazine (2007). Rob Hardy was nominated for the HBO Director to Watch Award (2005). Additionally, Rainforest Films has produced a number of commercial projects for clients, including: CNN, Turner Broadcasting, American Honda, Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola, The National Cancer Institute and Burrell Communications.
With the Beyonce Knowles picture Obsessed (Screen Gems) set for theatres in mere days, producer Will Packer is putting the final touches on Takers, a movie about a Los Angeles detective gunning against a hip band of thieves as they prepare a $20 million heist. Meanwhile Rob Hardy has been directing network television shows, including the Emmy Award winning ER, Criminal Minds and the webisodes for NBC’s Heroes. Up next for Rainforest is a sequel to Stomp the Yard and an all star African-American remake of the 80’s mega hit movie The Big Chill.