Kevin Hart has been no stranger to news headlines over the last month and a half. Hart has been a constant site of attention and controversy since stepping down as host of the Oscars due to homophobic remarks made between 2009 and 2011. As Twitter posts, television appearances, and interviews contributed to a boiling controversy, many interested parties became concerned over how the mounting negative attention might affect the reception of Hart’s upcoming film, The Upside. However, the controversy surrounding Hart does not seem to have had a significant impact on the actor’s ability to attract an audience; The Upside has surpassed expectations and garnered a very respectable $19.3 million and the No. 1 box office spot in its opening weekend.
Hart has struggled to maintain a positive image in the media. The comedian and actor gave an aggressive response to the resurgence of his previous homophobic remarks and initially refused to make another apology. In addition to his posts to Twitter, Hart has given a multitude of tense and inflammatory interviews – including an incredibly awkward appearance on Good Morning America where he refused address the controversy.
However, the feel-good appeal to The Upside seems to have struck a chord with viewers and attracted American audiences in droves. The Upside features actor Bryan Cranston as a paraplegic billionaire and Hart as his previously incarcerated caretaker. The dramedy sees the pair building an unlikely friendship and enriching each other’s lives. Film aficionados may recognize the film as a Hollywood remake of the French comedy, The Intouchables.
In addition to the controversy surrounding Hart, The Upside also seemed plagued by its connection to disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein. After the news of Weinstein’s systemic sexual assaults, any project with Weinstein’s involvement was considered to be radioactive and put on hold. However, after some time – and deliberate attempts by STX to distance the film from the Weinstein brothers – the film appears to have been able to recover from certain box office death.
Regardless of a plethora of obstacles, The Upside has become a box office success. At any rate, The Upside seems to be just what Hart needs to move on from his Oscar disaster.