Over the past decade, Will Packer has had 14 films gross more than half a billion dollars worldwide, with seven of his movies opening at No. 1 at the U.S. box office, including No Good Deed, Think Like A Man, and Ride Along. His latest comedy, The Wedding Ringer, debuted at $24.5 million over the four-day Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.
The Wedding Ringer, starring Kevin Hart, ranked at No. 2 behind the number one spot holder American Sniper, which reeled in $89.2 million worldwide. As of January 25, The Wedding Ringer was holding at $39.6 in domestic box office receipts and $41.2 worldwide, on a production budget of $23 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
Packer’s highest grossing films to date are Ride Along, at $150 million, and Think Like A Man, at $96 million worldwide receipts, both have the same movie magic ingredient—one of the hottest names in comedy, Kevin Hart. In fact, Hart is currently filming Ride Along 2 and is slated to star along with Samuel L. Jackson in The Black Phantom, co-produced by Packer.
Another key ingredient is the release date. It is just as critical to pick the right release date for a film as it is to select the right script, cast, and director, says Packer. Part of that focus entails releasing films to coincide with the MLK holiday weekend. The Wedding Ringer is the third Packer film to be released during that period. Following that tack, Stomp the Yard and Ride Along both led box-office receipts during their respective opening weekends. Packer will continue the trend in January 2016 with Ride Along 2. He says of the branding approach: “I want to always have a successful Will Packer film release during the MLK holiday.”
Here Packer outlines his four winning business branding strategies:
Practice the ‘art of war.’ Packer looks at releasing a film like going to war. “Your aerial attack is traditional media, billboards, and television spots,” he explains.
Interact with your customers. “You can’t win a war without having a great ground game and that is going out and touching people in the communities where you are trying to market your product,” says Packer. “For me, that means taking my cast to markets such as Memphis; Detroit; and Charlotte, North Carolina, where they don’t have a lot of Hollywood premieres.”
Create strong social media presence. It is important to have a very strong online and social media presence. That is what it takes to attract and keep a loyal following, Packer says. “I seek out people who are going to be great marketing partners. I am partners with my cast, with the studio, and my directors. We are all working toward releasing a film successfully.”
Have a strategic plan. Packer is always thinking and planning two to three years ahead, in part, since that is how long it takes to get a film made. “I don’t believe in luck. It is definitely a strategic approach to the way I make and market films that has allowed them to surpass Hollywood’s expectations.”