Master P has a plan for the future and it’s about making movies his own way.
When the hip-hop mogul decided to make I Got the Hook-Up 2, movie studios didn’t exactly jump at the chance to finance a sequel to a 1998 urban comedy that grossed $10 million at the box office. Still, Master P wasn’t deterred. He put up his own money to produce the film, and turned to social media stars to fill the cast and market the comedy.
“The studios are not going to let us in,” Master P, real name Percy Miller, told Urban Hollywood 411 this week. “They don’t understand that it’s a market for urban movies, urban comedies, all of that.”
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Last weekend, I Got the Hook-Up 2 arrived in theaters. The sequel, directed by Corey Grant, was released in 37 theaters and video on demand by Bob Johnson’s Urban Movie Channel (UMC) in partnership with RLJE Films. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $149,036, for a per-theater average of $4,028 — respectable numbers for an indie in limited release. It’s currently number 31 on the domestic iTunes movie chart.
“This is a movement to where African American and Latino filmmakers can own their product and put it in theaters and put it on VOD at the same time,” Master P said.
Paul Dergarabedian is a senior media analyst at ComScore, which tracks box-office performances. He noted the film would have performed even better in Master P’s home state of Louisiana, had it not been for theaters closing because of Hurricane Barry.
“I think there’s more gas left in the tank for this movie,” Dergarabedian said. While he praised Master P’s strategy of marketing the film through social media and releasing it simultaneously in theaters and on demand, he said this won’t work for all indies.
“Obviously, it’s a sequel to I Got the Hook-Up, so there’s already the brand recognition from the first film and Master P is a huge name,” he said. “I don’t know if the average person can do this type of release.”
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The original film featured Master P and comedian AJ Johnson as small-time scam artists known as Black and Blue. The two are back and run a local restaurant, which unfortunately gets shut down. They hatch a plan to make some fast cash, but there’s a hitch.
Master P’s son Romeo Miller co-stars in the sequel along with Sheryl Underwood, John Witherspoon, Michael Blackson, Young Jeezy and Clifton Powell.
The rapper-turned-actor revealed it was Romeo’s idea to make the sequel. The two put up $5 million dollars of their own money, and produced the film via Master P’s Genius Minds Productions. They filled the cast with social media stars, and paid them union wages.
“I had a casting call with regular actors, and then I started bringing in some of the social media stars, like DC young Fly, Fatboy SSE, Erica Mena, Juju,” Master P explained. “I said to myself ‘these guys are really good, they’ve just been on a small camera.’”
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He said he saw it as a way to give back. “By me owning this movie, I was able to give these guys opportunities that I really believed in,” he explained.
Once it was time to market the film, the influencers went to work on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to spread the word to their millions of followers. Master P and Romeo used their celebrity status to land appearances on national talk shows, like Strahan and Sara and The Wendy Williams Show.
“This is grassroots marketing,” Master P said. “We can’t compete with like a Spider-Man, with a $200 million budget and stuff like that. But this is going to open up those doors and avenues to show Hollywood that this is real.”
Instead of following Hollywood’s playbook of premiering the movie in Los Angeles or New York, Master P took it to his hometown.
“We had the premiere in New Orleans,” he noted. “During Essence week, we brought Hollywood to New Orleans… and the word just spread all across the U.S.”
Now that he’s proven his production and release strategy can work, Master P said he’s ready to change the movie game. Asked if he plans to release new music, the rap mogul was clear about his vision for the future.
“More movies. Movies, movies, movies, until we get there. We’re going to do movies, this is only the beginning,” he said. “I want to tell our stories, have fun with it, be able to make a profit and give back.”
Still, he doesn’t plan to completely leave music behind.
“You have to make music with the movies, so that will be good,” he explained. “But I want to focus on movies.”