The up-and-coming stand-up came from left field to score a box office hit

Credit: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

Kevin Hart, major movie star? He may not be a household name (yet), but the stand-up comedian’s first film — Kevin Hart: Laugh at My Pain, a documentary about his recent tour — came out of nowhere to make a box office splash last weekend. Now he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

You Know Him From

Hart, 32, has starred in two hilarious Comedy Central specials — I’m a Grown Little Man (2009) and Seriously Funny (2010) — and also hosted the 2011 BET Awards. But he got his biggest break last month as the unofficial host of MTV’s ”hostless” 2011 Video Music Awards, where he cracked jokes about the Jersey Shore cast, Lil Wayne, and Lady Gaga. ”It got me a different following,” Hart says of the gig. ”I went up 250,000 Twitter followers on that night.”

The Movie’s Backstory

Once he wrapped his latest comedy tour, which somehow found the funny in having a drug-addicted father and a mom who died young, Hart decided to turn footage of the experience into a film. (It also chronicles an emotional stop in his hometown of Philadelphia.) Partnering with Codeblack Entertainment and AMC Theatres, his Hartbeat Productions spent $75,000 to make Pain. Though it played in just 98 theaters — all AMC screens, for now — it grossed nearly $2 million in its opening weekend. ”AMC came out to several shows,” Hart explains. ”After they saw how supportive and faithful my audience is, they made a deal with me.” After another week, the movie will roll out to other chains. ”Our goal is 300 screens,” he says.

Celebration Time

How did Hart react to his box office win? By calling up boxer pal Floyd Mayweather Jr., who’s fighting Victor Ortiz in Vegas on Sept. 17. ”I said, ‘Get me some goddamn tickets to your fight, because I’m having a good weekend,”’ he explains. ”And he said yes!”