Universal Pictures has signed a first-look production deal with writer, director and producer Malcolm D. Lee and his Blackmaled Productions.
Lee most recently directed and produced the Universal comedy Girls Trip, which will be released Friday in North America.
“Starting with The Best Man, Malcolm has an incredible track record telling resonant stories that make audiences laugh and cry, which he has done brilliantly once again with Girls Trip,” Universal Pictures president of production Peter Cramer said Tuesday in a statement. “We are thrilled to formalize our long-standing relationship with Malcolm by welcoming his company to the lot, and we are excited about making many more films with him, starting with his next film, Night School.”
Said Lee: “I am extremely gratified to officially be a part of the Universal family. This is a place I’ve always considered my home. They have respected and been supportive of my vision as a filmmaker, and I hope to continue the great success that I’ve had at Universal as we continue this fruitful partnership.”
Lee, who started out his career working as a production assistant, apprentice film editor, casting associate and director’s assistant to his cousin, Spike Lee, has directed five of his nine films to date with Universal, beginning with his directorial debut The Best Man, in 1999. He went on to helm the 2002 action-comedy Undercover Brother, which starred Eddie Griffin, Dave Chappelle and Neil Patrick Harris, and then 2005’s Roll Bounce, starring Bow Wow, Mike Epps, Nick Cannon and Meagan Good.
Lee later helmed 2008’s Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins, starring Martin Lawrence, Mo’Nique and Cedric The Entertainer, and Soul Men, starring Samuel L. Jackson and the late Bernie Mac. His biggest hit came with the 2013 sequel The Best Man Holiday, which grossed $30.5 million in its opening weekend alone.
His latest film, Girls Trip, stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish.
Among his upcoming feature projects, Lee is in preproduction to helm his sixth directorial outing with Universal, Night School, starring Kevin Hart and produced by Hart and Will Packer, as well as the next installment of the popular Best Man franchise, The Best Man Wedding, which he will write and direct.
Lee and his Blackmaled Productions were repped in the deal by Paradigm and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano.