‘What Is the Glass Ceiling of Our Industry?’: Meet the Black Teen Who Produced Robert De Niro’s Latest Blockbuster Hit

The October 2020 box-office release “The War with Grandpa” has already brought in close to $15 million in the United States. Many might be surprised to find that one of the forces behind this film that took the number-one spot during its opening weekend is a teenager. Fifteen-year-old Tre Peart is one of the movie’s executive producers. “The War with Grandpa” is based on a book of the same name by Robert Kimmel Smith, which Tre read in third grade.

“It was a school assignment, so once I was done, I was specifically excited to watch this movie because my parents had just introduced a rule that I had to read the book before I watched the movie,” Tre said. Only there was no movie for Tre to watch. So he turned to his parents, movie producers themselves, to make one. “I asked my mom, and she said let me read it. After she read it, she taught me how to make a pitch and then we talked to my dad,” Tre recalls.

His dad, Marvin Peart, was actually heading out of town the next morning when they sat him down to hear the idea. “I heard his pitch and I was like ‘Wow, this is actually really interesting’ and when I got to L.A. the following morning, I called home and said ‘Hey, let’s find out who publishes this book — let’s option — I think Junior (Tre) may have found our next project.” At the time, the book had already sold 1.3 million copies, so the Peart family was thrilled that it was still available. “The War with Grandpa” tells the story of a boy whose grandfather comes to live with his family and is given the boy’s room. A war of pranks is put in motion to win back his room.

Making a movie behind the book, Marvin Peart, a seasoned film-industry executive, knew wouldn’t be an easy road. “I knew maybe we were biting off maybe a bit more than we could chew.  I knew it would be expensive,” Marvin Peart said. 

Tre, however, age and inexperience aside, came in swinging with some A-list casting ideas. His first pick to play the lead role of grandpa: Robert De Niro  “Now, I know it’s kind of weird — why is an eight year old thinking Robert DeNiro?,” Tre said. “Well, my parents are huge Robert De Niro fans and they were always talking about what a great actor he is. Me being eight years old, and his movies being a high-level PG-13 and up, that was kind of foreign territory. So I was like Robert De Niro because if I can’t see any of his movies, why not put him in mine,” Tre said, smiling. 

His dad realized he was on to something very quickly. “When you start thinking about this role, there are maybe only about three or four people on this planet that could pull it off specifically, so he did name the number-one guy that could do it,” said Marvin Peart.

The blockbuster cast not only starred De Niro, but Uma Thurman, Jane Seymour, Faizon Love and more. Tre played a role in the casting, especially when it came to the child actors. It’s worth noting that “The War with Grandpa” is one of the only mostly white films to be made by film companies of color.

Marvin Peart is the CEO of Brookdale Studios and chief business officer and founding partner of 101 Studios, and Rosa Peart is co-founder of Marro Media Company. “We think the messaging is just because you look a certain way doesn’t mean you can’t do a certain thing and I think in a culture and the country that we live in, your limitations are decided by how you look prior to even what comes out of your mouth.  So we were very deliberate in doing that because we thought ‘What is the glass ceiling of our industry? Why couldn’t we make ‘The Godfather’ if that’s what we wanted to make?’ We could make ‘Ride Along’ if we wanted to make ‘Ride Along’ or we could make ‘The Godfather,’ Marvin Peart said. 

“He said it perfectly. It’s kind of like a checklist. Kind of getting back at the boundaries that society has set on us as a people,” Tre added. 

When asked what it was like working with his parents, he answered first with a cheeky smile. “It was a lot of fun,” he said. “Whenever we’d go back to the hotel room, we’d talk about just our days. You know some of the attitudes that were thrown, it was kind of hard for them to acknowledge that but it was a lot of fun for sure.”

Tre has no plans to slow down in the industry in the wake of the success of “The War with Grandpa.”

“We’ve contacted a few publishers, and there are also some things with “The War with Grandpa” franchise that are also in play. So it hasn’t really stopped. It’s kind of been a continuous thing that’s going on in the back of my mind, you know — thinking like a moviemaker. I’m doing film classes at school, so it’s something that I’m definitely continuing,” Tre said.

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