November 07, 2022
Kevin Hart's production company is working to turn the "Black Sands" comic series into an animated feature film and television adaptation as part of its new deal with Black Sands Entertainment, a Black-owned publisher that tells stories about African history.
The agreement gives Hartbeat, Hart's company, an equity stake in Black Sands Entertainment, Variety reported last week. In return, Hartbeat will provide advisory services to help move Black Sands' stories into the film and television industries. To start, Hartbeat is focusing on "Black Sands," the publisher's signature series on African gods and kingdoms.
Hart became aware of Black Sands Entertainment while appearing as a guest on a "Shark Tank" episode in January. There, CEO Manuel Godoy explained his company's mission and detailed the success of its graphic novels, including series like "Black Sands" and "Cosmic Girls."
Both Hart and fellow "shark" Mark Cuban invested $500,000 into Black Sands Entertainment. The company's appearance on the ABC series helped it reach its Kickstarter goals of $10,000 raised in one minute and $100,000 raised in one day. The company has sold 200,000 copies of its comic books, resulting in $2 million in sales since its inception in 2017.
Godoy founded Black Sands Entertainment with his wife, Geiszel, in 2016. The Birmingham-based startup initially focused on releasing comic books aimed at Black parents and their children. Its flagship series, "Black Sands: The Seven Kingdoms," tells the story of a young boy growing up in a fictional African kingdom and rising to become its king, according to a synopsis from Publishers Weekly.
"The moment that Manuel, Geiszel, and the Black Sands Entertainment team walked into the Tank I knew that this was a company I wanted to bring into my eco-system," Hart told Variety. "The Black Sands team was looking for a partner that has resources to grow their distribution, expand on their production, find new creative talent, and promote their current and future portfolio of content — these are all area's of Hartbeat's core business."
The "Black Sands" series has more than 100 reviews on its website, with many parents and grandparents lauding it for its positive portrayal of Black characters in an action-packed story fit for middle school students. The series has more than a dozen print issues, and can be purchased as a bundle for $100.
Hart has made several moves to expand Hartbeat Productions into a large, multimedia organization. In 2021, Hart inked a deal with Netflix to produce major film projects under the Heartbeat umbrella, including "True Story," "Fatherhood" and "Me Time." Hart stars in each of them and also serves as an executive producer.
The Netflix deal was part of a larger set of expansions in 2021. It also established Hartbeat Ventures, a venture capitalist agency that seeks to invest in companies that show real strides to increasing financial inclusion.
The comedian also owns Laugh Out Loud, a company he founded in 2017 that produces audio and video comedy content across multiple platforms, including a 24/7 streaming channel available through digital platforms like Tubi, Peacock and Pluto.