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How Warner Bros. Lost Out on 'Ride Along'

Warner Bros Ride Along - H 2014
"Ride Along"

The studio's New Line division finally signed Kevin Hart to star, but higher-ups wouldn't green light the buddy cop comedy.

This story first appeared in the March 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. 

Executives at Warner Bros. likely are wincing over the $127 million box-office hit Ride Along. The project was set up for years at Warners' New Line division but failed to get off the ground even when Kevin Hart signed to star opposite Ice Cube for director Tim Story. Sources say former Warners film chief Jeff Robinov wasn't ready to commit to the film, so Universal swooped in and picked it up out of turnaround in mid-2012.

STORY: 'Ride Along 2' Moving Forward With Kevin Hart, Ice Cube in Talks to Return

New Line's Toby Emmerich was able to engineer a deal in which the company will receive 5 percent of the buddy cop comedy's profit (including sequels) in exchange for letting it go. Jeff Field, Story's manager, says Universal chairman Donna Langley was a driving force in getting the $25 million comedy made, along with top production executive Scott Bernstein.

"It wouldn't have happened except for Donna," he says. "They let Tim make his movie." Another source close to the project says negotiations to extract the project from New Line were very complicated, primarily because Story and Hart had a very tight window in which to shoot the film. Ride Along, which now is getting a sequel, wasn't the only New Line project put into turnaround during Robinov's tenure.

He also passed on a Dumb & Dumber sequel, which is set to be released Nov. 14 -- also by Universal.