EXCLUSIVE: Universal has pre-empted the action comedy spec package My Own Worst Enemy, and is eyeing a summer start date for a film that will star Kevin Hart and be directed by Tim Story. This is a big commitment by the studio to the film, Hart and Story, and also Universal has cemented its relationship to make Hart a cornerstone supplier, as the studio has established a first-look deal with Hart and his Hartbeat Productions.

Sony

This comes on the heels of Hart scoring big in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and it gives Universal a chance to re-team Hart with Story after they worked together so well on its Ride Along franchise — and I’ve heard a third film with Story, Hart and Ice Cube is on the drawing board. Hart and Story also teamed on the Think Like A Man franchise at Screen Gems.

The script for My Own Worst Enemy is by Chad St. John, the scribe behind London Has Fallen, the Pierre Morel-directed revenge thriller Peppermint that Lakeshore is shooting with Jennifer Garner, and the Jeffrey Nachmanoff-directed sci-fi horror film Replicas with Keanu Reeves that Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios acquired last Toronto.

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In the action-comedy, Hart plays an agent that is tasked to kill and gets help from an unlikely source. Story will produce through his The Story Company banner, and Hart is producing through Hartbeat . Story, who has seen seven of the eight studio films he directed finish No. 1 in their domestic opening weekends, is currently in production on Shaft, the New Line film that stars Samuel L. Jackson and Jessie T. Usher, Alexandra Shipp and Regina Hall for New Line. Sharla Sumpter Bridgett, President of The Story Company, will be executive producer on My Own Worst Enemy.

The film is being fast tracked into Hart’s busy schedule, ont that most certainly will will involve another Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle sequel already being formulated by Sony Pictures for a film that is giving Star Wars: The Last Jedi a run for its money and has grossed $532 million worldwide. He also is near announcing te global dates for his next comedy tour, “Irresponsible,”  a follow-up to his record-breaking “What Now” tour. His next pic, Universal’s Night School, hits theaters September 28.

Universal Pictures president of production Peter Cramer confirmed to Deadline the expansion of its relationship with Hart with the new production deal.

Universal

“We are thrilled to continue and expand our partnership with Kevin Hart and Hartbeat Productions,” he said. “Not only is Kevin a comedic genius in front of the camera, but he has also become a very astute producer, with great creative instincts, deep relationships, and a tireless work ethic. We are confident that there will be many fantastic Universal releases from Kevin and Hartbeat in the years to come.”

Hart doesn’t often miss with projects he starred in and it is not an accident. He’s considered to be one of the most astute users of social media to stay plugged in with his audience, which has also been helpful in tours and other enterprise projects. Hart launched a Lionsgate-based digital network The LOL Network, and the app got downloaded 500,000 times in its first 30 days. Hart will star in two premium Laugh Out Loud series coming this year, including What the Fit? with Youtube, and Cold As Balls. He is also championing a new creators’ program that offers resources to ten rising digital creators to regularly produce social content for Laugh Out Loud.

Hart, Story and St. John are all repped by UTA. Hart is managed by 3 Arts Entertainment and lawyered by Schreck Rose Dapello & Adams, and repped by WME for touring; Story is lawyered by Ziffren Brittenham and St. John by Hansen Jacobson.