In January of 2015, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele ended their Comedy Central series Key & Peele after five seasons of social satire and parody. Since then? Sure, Jordan Peele's continued to lending his acting talents to a number of projects—although most of that has been voice work on everything from American Dad! to Rick and Morty—but what's been more interesting is watching how his moves behind the camera have manifested.
One of the keys of Peele's recent ascension as a writer/director/producer has been his ability to work at his own pace, in his own lane. While a project like Keanu made sense from Key & Peele, Get Out was 2017's surprise hit, both because it was a horror film that took on social issues head-on, but also because it ended up making so much money. And while it's easy to say that Hollywood just follows the cash, Peele's moving at his own speed. He has a lot of juice right now, and instead of just trying to make a quick buck, Peele's more focused on cultivating quality, original work.
Here's a quick guide to Peele's impressive string of projects, ranging from the foundation he laid with Keanu to teaming up with J.J. Abrams for a horror anthology on HBO.
Keanu hits theaters
Depending on who you'd ask, Keanu found the duo of Key & Peele taking their schtick to the big screen. It didn't blow audiences away, doing $20.7 million at the box office on a $15 million budget, but the action/comedy about a lost kitten was a vehicle that Peele both produced (alongside Key) and wrote (with Alex Rubens), as well as starred in.
Tracy Morgan's TBS series
Initially announced in January of 2016, Jordan Peele will be executive producing a comedy series starring Tracy Morgan that will air on TBS. It was originally set to air on FX, but they ended up passing on it. Morgan is reportedly set to star as a man who is released from prison and returns to a now-gentrified Brooklyn. Now word on when this series will debut.
Get Out murders everything
One thing no one was expecting was Jordan Peele making Get Out, a "woke horror" flick about racism for, Blumhouse, who own the lane when it comes to modern horror (they've been behind everything from the Paranormal Activity and Purge series to Split and Insidious). Outside of the movie, which has helped make the likes of Daniel Kaluuya a star, just being a critically-acclaimed film (at the time of this writing, it's sitting at a 99% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), the film owned at the box office. We're talking a $214.3 million box office on a $4.5 million budget, becoming the highest grossing film domestically directed by a black filmmaker; Peele beat F. Gary Gray for that distinction (which he won for Straight Outta Compton, but then reclaimed when The Fate of the Furious a few weeks later).
Peele is also the first black writer-director to gross $100 million on their debut film.
Peele signs first look deal with Universal and Blumhouse Productions
After the success of Get Out, Universal and Blumhouse wanted to keep Peele's creative genius close, signing a first look deal with the writer-director in early May 2017. It was announced that Peele next film would be another original social thriller, which he'd write, direct, and produce. His company Monkeypaw Productions would also be producing films alongside Jason Blum's Blumhouse Productions company.
Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley sounded excited about getting Peele on board: "Through extraordinary imagination and fearless humor," she said, "Jordan has proven himself to be a game-changer who is driven to tell stories that are as commercially entertaining as they are disruptive and provocative. The entire Universal family takes great pride in his incomparable filmmaking debut, and feel fortunate that this studio will be Jordan’s home for many years to come."
Peele turned down directing Akira
Fans of anime have all kinds of feels regarding 1988's Akira, and while asking Peele to direct it would make sense, he decided to decline. And no, it wasn't because his schedule just got busy af: "I think [I could do it] if the story justifies it," he said. "Akira is one of my favorite movies, and I think obviously the story justifies as big a budget as you can possibly dream of. But the real question for me is: Do I want to do pre-existing material, or do I want to do original content? At the end of the day, I want to do original stuff."
Peele joins J.J. Abrams on HBO horror anthology series about the Jim Crow era
Adding onto his workload was the announcement that he'd be joining J.J. Abrams over on HBO adapting the 2016 novel Lovecraft Country into a horror anthology series. The novel takes place in the 1950s and follows a black Army veteran in search of his father, uncovering all kinds of horror. The project will find Peele executive producing the series in conjunction with Abrams' Bad Robot and Warner Bros. Television. Again, there's no word on when this would be premiering.
Truth be told, the future's only looking up for Peele. Not only is he being called on to work with esteemed names like J.J. Abrams and has Universal on his side, but he's able to focus on the original ideas that made projects like Get Out important and impactful. With the superhero world encompassing a lot of what makes dollars on the silver screen and on television, it's ill to have a Peele stepping up and bringing a unique take on entertainment. May his next moves truly be his best moves.