Beast: Seeing Idris Elba Punch Lions Fueled Producer Will Packer

You would probably be forgiven for thinking it was a mistake to see producer Will Packer's name on the upcoming survival thriller Beast. Having made a name for himself creating comedies like Ride Along, Girls Trip, and Think Like A Man, plus acclaimed dramas like Straight Outta Compton, it does seem out of the ordinary, but that was by design. Speaking in an exclusive interview with about the new Idris Elba-starring thriller, Packer revealed he wanted to make the film because it was a genre he'd never tackled, plus the idea of seeing Elba take on the king of the jungle with his bare hands seems like something everyone would want to see. 

"I hadn't done a survival thriller. I'm a fan of Jaws and the Cujos, and those types of projects, and I hadn't done one. And I thought that this concept was like, clean enough. It felt like a great, theatrical, late-summer movie, you know? You can come in and eat your popcorn, and just have an escapist moment and watch Idris Elba punch lions in the face. I mean, I'm here for it."

When we followed up and asked why seeing a film like this in the theater with an audience was important to him, Packer added: "I think that's important to have a breath of opportunities and options for movie goers. I think, I got nothing against like big tentpole, comic book things, big brands and IP, but an original movie like this one, let's see if audiences respond because I just like there to be just a plethora of options when you go to the cinema. And I like people going to the cinema. I produce for all the mediums, so I got no issue with streaming, but for me it was about how do I make a movie that feels like a theatrical movie, but it's very different than the other things that are in the marketplace."

Elba leads the cast of the new Universal movie, which also stars Sharlto Copley (District 9), Iyana Halley (The Hate U Give, This is Us), and Leah Sava Jeffries (Empire). In the film Elba plays Dr. Nate Daniels, a recently widowed husband who returns to South Africa, where he first met his wife, on a long-planned trip with their daughters to a game reserve managed by Martin Battles (Copley), an old family friend and wildlife biologist. But what begins as a journey of healing jolts into a fearsome fight for survival when a lion, a survivor of blood-thirsty poachers who now sees all humans as the enemy, begins stalking them.