Comedian Kevin Hart before the screening of "The Wedding Ringer" in South Kingstown. - Credit: Daniel Subers/The Good 5 Cent Cigar
Comedian Kevin Hart before the screening of “The Wedding Ringer” in South Kingstown. – Credit: Daniel Subers/The Good 5 Cent Cigar

The film “The Wedding Ringer” had its local premiere on Sunday afternoon at a screening for the University of Rhode Island community.

The event was hosted by the film’s star, Kevin Hart, before his performance at the Thomas M. Ryan Center later that evening.

Originally scheduled to take place at Edwards Auditorium, the screening location was moved to Entertainment Cinemas in South Kingstown the week before it was scheduled to take place.

The screening was in advance of the film’s theatrical release in January, and similar events will be held at some of Hart’s other college tour dates.

The film’s screenplay had been floated around Hollywood for several years before it was greenlit by Screen Gems last year as a vehicle for Hart and Josh Gad.

“It’s been around for a long time,” Hart said. “They were trying to do this movie for so long and never got rolling.”

The comedy stars Gad as a young man who is about to be married but does not have a best man for his wedding. Gad’s character approaches Hart’s, the owner of a company that hires out best men to socially awkward grooms, for help in his situation.

“I jumped at it,” he said. “We have a chance to do our version of what “Hitch” was.”

He said the film is relatable to many audiences. College crowds will enjoy the edgier parts of its humor, while others will enjoy its messages about friendship.

“It has a great message that people are going to walk away with,” he said.

Following the screening, Hart was slated to do a Q-and-A with the audience and said he was interested to hear their reactions to the film.

“I want to sit and enjoy it with people. I want feedback,” he said. “I want to ask them, ‘Why did you like it? What did you like? What didn’t you like?’”

Hart said he hopes for audience members to “spread the word” about the film through social media following the event.

URI was Hart’s second of 15 dates on his college tour.  The tour also includes appearances at the University of Maryland, College Park on Nov. 1 and Syracuse University on Nov. 2.