Kevin Hart’s Die Hart series rose from the ashes of Quibi like a phoenix. It was one of a handful of shows acquired by Roku when the short-form content shuttered in 2020, just months after launch.
The comedian and entrepreneur saw the platform’s demise as offering an opportunity.
“I’m very close with founder Jeffrey Katzenberg so when the news had hit that Quibi was no longer going to be moving forward, he and I had a conversation, and the IP was something I was able to own,” Hart recalled.
The creator said the streamer saw “crazy success in the IP and the engagement that followed” when they started showing the “quick bites” from which Quibi derived its name. That’s when Hart and Roku, whose Roku Channel reportedly reaches 70 million people in the US, joined forces and came up with a plan to take things further.
“We followed the same type of structure that I had in place from a deal perspective because it had to match, and here we are. Die Hart 2: Die Harter is available, and there’s a fan base,” he explained. “I love that I’m now seeing the value in owning an IP and being at the forefront of what is now my own franchise. It’s pretty unheard of and pretty ridiculous to have the talent that I was able to get to participate in these ideas. From John Travolta to Josh Hartnett to Nathalie Emmanuel and John Cena, it’s quite a big deal, and I’m very grateful.”
The broader success of Die Hart, albeit slightly delayed, gave the funny man confidence that he had something marketable and financially viable.
“You have to have a proof of concept,” Hart mused. “Everything is just an idea until it is executed, and we have proven it worked. Die Hart and Die Harter are examples of the space I’m thinking about and the opportunity to follow if I gravitate toward it correctly. “
He has realized over the years that having “the correct alignment” is critical, adding that Roku, where all the short-form episodes of Die Hart 2: Die Harter are now available to stream on the Roku Channel, has presented itself to be “an amazing partner.”
“Our success is because they’re very engaged with their consumer, and they know how to go directly to them,” he continued. “Having what is now deemed a Roku Original, in a space where Roku Originals haven’t been highlighted, and be one of the first to come to the table was a big deal. You have nothing without great partners. I feel like the opportunities are endless.”
As well as creating a plethora of content on his own, Hart has also enjoyed a long-running creative partnership and association with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, co-founder and CEO of Seven Bucks, a multi-platform global entertainment company.
“I’ve figured since my separation, well, now I’m going to be able to do real things in this business minus the luggage,” the comedian joked. “I’ve been carrying that bag around for the longest time.” Hart’s own Hartbeat Productions, officially formed in 2022, is behind Die Hart. This year, his firm placed eighth in Fast Company’s top ten of the most innovative film and TV companies.
Something else Hart did to increase the value of the IP ahead of the second season was to take the original shorts, along with additional material, and combine them to create a feature-length movie now available on Amazon’s
“In owning it, I saw value in editing it and doing it as a film as well,” Hart explained, saying that all he had to do then was secure deals for “distributing it, licensing it, and getting it seen by others.”
Hart is thinking big.
“The benefit of having the IP is that you know how to repurpose and recreate it,” he explained. “I think there are windows of opportunity for it to become a global IP, at some point, will present themselves, and you can make more deals. At the end of the day, we’re building, and underneath the umbrella of Hartbeat, we want to have meaningful, impactful, fun content that the world can view.”
The creator believes the best way to do that is to understand “how the world is watching things” as much as what they are watching. He continued, “The world loves to laugh, they love action, and they love a nice, diverse-looking cast that is a clear example of what we want our world to be. We’re looking for more opportunities in this space.”
Two seasons deep, Hart is already planning a third season.
“What I love about the first and second seasons is that we have two great names in the business with John Travolta and John Cena, but they are both very different. Season three will be no different,” he affirmed. “We want to find another amazing name that can come in, someone who acts as a significant examples of star alignment to these IPs.”
Hart believes that if they continue to do that and “grab the right personnel,” he doesn’t see Die Hart stopping anytime soon. “I feel like it’s something that we will be able to build on behalf of others,” he continued. “This is a template that we are married to that we can stay true to in the future as we position ourselves to be exactly where we are today, which is real players and partners in a real studio.”
While Hart is already thinking about big names for a possible third season, he’s not taking his eye off the ball when it comes to the creatives who have helped make the Die Hart franchise what it is.
“Tripper Clancy and Eric Appel, who acted as our writer and director for this project, have done amazing things, and they get it,” he confirmed. “Eric also directed and co-wrote Weird: The Al Yankovic Story for Roku, which is very much in the same satirical thinking space as Die Hart. It’s fun, has a great look to it, and is where we are creatively navigating budgets, executing content in a manner like nobody else has.”
“The right creative team, from directing and writing and beyond, means you get a bigger interest from the talent because they know it will be done well. As talent myself, I’m like, ‘Well, I want more things on my resume, that allow me the opportunity to play while also aligning myself properly.’ That’s what these projects are.”