April 11, 1974
St. Petersburg, Florida
|Education||St. Petersburg High School|
|Alma mater||Florida A&M University|
|Notable work||Produced Think Like a Man, Obsessed, Ride Along, About Last Night|
Packer has been included in several high-profile lists, including The Hollywood Reporter's "40(ish) Most Powerful People in Comedy, 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." As of 2018, Packer has produced or executive produced 28 films (including Girls Trip, Ride Along and Think Like a Man) that have grossed worldwide over $1 billion combined at the box office.
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 from FAMU with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering.
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. In 1994, Packer and Hardy produced their first film, Chocolate City, for $20,000 and Packer helped broker a small distribution deal with Blockbuster video. 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. 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. Trois was in the Top 50 Highest Grossing Independent Films of the year, according to Daily Variety, 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.
In 2001, Packer helped broker a deal with Sony to produce and distribute urban films including Trois's sequel, Trois: The Escort, and Motives. The film Lockdown, released on home video under this Rainforest-Sony collaboration, was one of Columbia Tri-Star's top selling independent releases. In 2005, Rainforest Films released The Gospel. 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. 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, and Ride Along, which brought in box office receipts totaling nearly $150 million as of April 2014.
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.
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. Later that year, he signed a three-year deal with Universal Pictures. 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 and the first film written, directed, produced, and starring African-Americans to gross over $100 million. 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.
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. As part of the launch, the company acquired digital ad firm Narrative_ to serve as the new venture's branded content arm, WP Narrative. In 2018, Will Packer Media acquired women's lifestyle site xoNecole.
Will Packer Media projects include television series Ambitions and Ready to Love for OWN; Power Star Live, a 30-minute live series for Twitter; and digital series The Baxters, produced for Roma Downey's LightWorkers platform. The company's WP Narrative_ division was a 2018 Webby Award Winner and 10th Annual Shorty Award winner 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, 10th Annual Shorty Awards and 2018 D&AD Awards.
Packer is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity (inducted into the Beta Nu Chapter at FAMU). 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. Packer proposed to his fiancé Heather Hayslett live on stage at the 2013 Essence Music Festival. They were married on Friday, August 28, 2015 in Georgia.
- Chocolate City (1994) (producer)
- Trois (2000) (writer, producer)
- Trois 2: Pandora's Box (2002) (story writer, producer)
- Motives (2004) (producer)
- Trois: The Escort (2004) (executive producer)
- The Gospel (2005) (producer)
- The Gospel Live (2005) (executive producer)
- Puff, Puff, Pass (2006) (producer)
- Stomp the Yard (2007) (producer)
- Motives 2 (2007) (producer)
- This Christmas (2007) (producer)
- Three Can Play That Game (2008) (producer)
- Obsessed (2009) (producer)
- Takers (2010) (producer)
- Stomp the Yard: Homecoming (2010) (producer)
- Alpha Man: The Brotherhood Of MLK (2011) (executive producer)
- Think Like a Man (2012) (producer, cameo appearance)
- Battle of the Year (2013) (executive producer)
- Ride Along (2014) (producer)
- About Last Night (2014) (producer)
- Think Like a Man Too (2014) (producer, cameo appearance)
- No Good Deed (2014) (producer)
- The Wedding Ringer (2015) (producer)
- Straight Outta Compton (2015) (executive producer)
- Ride Along 2 (2016) (producer)
- Almost Christmas (2016) (producer)
- Girls Trip (2017) (producer)
- Breaking In (2018) (producer)
- Night School (2018) (producer)
- Jacob's Ladder (2019) (producer)
- What Men Want (2019) (producer)
- Little (2019)
- Truth Be Told (2015)
- Roots (2016) (executive producer)
- Uncle Buck (2016)
- Being Mary Jane (2016) (executive producer)
- The Quad (2017) (executive producer)
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