EXCLUSIVE: Starz is developing an U.S. adaptation of the Italian drama Romanzo Criminale. It will be written by Steven S. DeKnight, creator/showrunner of Starz’s most successful original series, Spartacus, who is serving as executive producer and showrunner as part of his overall deal with the pay cable network. Lionsgate, which previously produced Boss for Starz, is the studio, with Steve McPherson, who has a first-look deal there, executive producing alongside Scripted World’s Alon Aranya and Rob Golenberg (Betrayal). The 2008 Italian drama revolves around a gang that controls Rome’s heroin trade in the 1970s and 1980s. The U.S. adaptation will be set in Philadelphia during the turbulent era of the late sixties and early seventies. The story will chronicle the rise of a gang of working class criminals who attempt to seize the American Dream by any means necessary.
Scripted World’s Aranya and Golenberg had been eyeing Romanzo Criminale for years. They finally landed the rights about 18 months ago and took the format to Lionsgate. When the studio signed a first-look deal with McPherson in April, it attached the executive-turned-producer to the project. The drama was taken to Starz, which brought in DeKnight.
The Italian series, which aired on Sky Cinema, was based on the 2002 novel by Giancarlo De Cataldo, which in turn was inspired by the notorious Magliana gang. The series was a followup to the 2005 feature adaptation of the book directed by famous Italian actor Michele Placido (La Piovra). You can watch below a trailer for the series in Italian and one for the movie with English subtitles that better explains the setup. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After setting a Thanksgiving Weekend record with Jennifer Lawrence’s female protagonist Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Lionsgate is eyeing another film with a strong female heroine. The mini-major is in early talks to back Rodham, a feature about the formative years of former First Lady and Secretary State and potential presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. No actress has yet been set to play Clinton, but several prominent ones are circling, I’m told.
This is the project that James Ponsoldt wants to make his directorial follow-up to The Spectacular Now, based on the Black List script by Young Il Kim. Produced by Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, Rodham covers Hillary when she was a hotshot young lawyer in D.C. and was torn between flourishing in Capitol Hill or going back to Arkansas to rekindle a relationship with her ex-boyfriend, a law teacher named Bill Clinton, who didn’t want to leave home.
Related: Will ‘Rodham’ Affect Hillary Clinton In 2016?
Lionsgate seems a better outlet for a formative years film on the former Hillary Rodham than either NBC, which planned a miniseries based on her life, or CNN, which planned a documentary. Both projects were scrapped after the Republican National Committed voted to bar both networks from their 2016 presidential debates because of perceived bias.
Ponsoldt is repped by UTA and Brillstein.
The Kevin Costner football flick will open April 11, a month before the NFL Draft. Lionsgate said today that Draft Day — about the Cleveland Browns GM who tries to save pro football in the city by trading for the No. 1 draft pick — is moving to the date that had been slotted for the mini-major’s supernatural thriller The Quiet Ones, which is moving back two weeks to April 25. Summit and OddLot’s Draft Day, from director Ivan Reitman, will compete against Fox’s toon sequel Rio 2; Open Road’s Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner Sabotage; and The Weinstein Company’s comedy St. Vincent, starring Naomi Watts, Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy. Lionsgate today also moved up Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club from May 9 to March 14 and pushed its sex-addiction drama Addicted from that date back to September 5. Capping off the spate of announcements, the company set its biopic Cesar Chavez, starring Michael Pena as the labor organizer and civil rights activist, for moderate release on March 28.
Shares are -7.7% at midday, and that’s partly due to the opening weekend performance of Hunger Games: Catching Fire which grossed $160.6M at domestic box offices and $147M internationally. The consensus among Wall Street analysts was that the film would see $165M domestically, with some going as high as $175M. So the weekend was a slight disappointment. But most aren’t worried about the film’s prospects. With strong results overseas, Catching Fire is “already one-third the way towards our [global box office] ultimate of $900M after only 3 days in release,” B. Riley’s Eric Wold says. Stifel analyst Benjamin Mogil says that the international performance “will really matter for the title to have material upside…and given the current trajectory we believe that this will be the case.” So why the drop in the stock price? Some investors figure that Lionsgate has peaked for now, and will lose buzz as people begin to focus on its next major film, Divergent, scheduled to open on March 21. Cowen and Co’s Doug Creutz says that while he’s “optimistic” that Divergent will become a franchise “we continue to expect a much lower level of performance than for Hunger Games” forecasting that the sci-fi action film based on the bestselling novel by Veronica Roth will generate $130M at domestic box offices.
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EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate and Gigi Pritzker’s Odd Lot Entertainment has acquired Spitfire, a pitch by Grant Thompson to tell the fact-based story of Louise Smith, a rebellious firebrand who takes the stock car racing scene of the 1950s by storm with her steadfast driving skills and changes the fate of racing forever. Female drivers were surprisingly instrumental in the founding of NASCAR just after WWII. A forgotten forerunner of contemporary female drivers like Danica Patrick, Smith was the quintessential small-town girl with big dreams who smashed through the gender preconceptions of the time to ultimately race at the famed Daytona Beach road course and helped secure the initial funding for what would become the billion-dollar sports giant NASCAR.
Nicky Weinstock of Invention Films is producing. NASCAR is exec producing. NASCAR holds the key to a vast potential racing audience, but it is stingy about the films it gets involved in. The last big one was the Adam McKay-directed Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby, which starred Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly and Sacha Baron Cohen. Obviously the question is whether that largely male audience will turn out for a female-themed racing film, but the formula worked well for Sony and Penny Marshall in A League Of Their Own. Read More »
Lionsgate has picked up North American rights to The Angriest Man In Brooklyn, starring Robin Williams as New Yorker Henry Altmann, whose bad day gets worse when he’s told he has just 90 minutes to live. Mila Kunis stars as the doc who scrambles to find Altmann and get him into surgery as he goes on a panicked spree through Brooklyn to right all of the wrongs in his life. Phil Alden Robinson directs from Daniel Taplitz’s script with Melissa Leo, Peter Dinklage, and Hamish Linklater rounding out the cast. Lionsgate is planning a day and date theatrical and VOD release TBA. Landscape Entertainment’s Bob Cooper & Tyler Mitchell produced the film with Daniel J. Walker of Force Majeure. Backing came from MICA Entertainment and Vedette Finance. WME negotiated the deal with Lionsgate. Cargo Entertainment is repping foreign sales.
This was one of a few interesting tid-bits that CEO Jon Feltheimer dropped in his conference call with analysts this morning. The studio’s been “approached in two territories about potential theme park opportunities” for the action film franchise, he says. “We’re pursuing them.” The company has no additional info.
Separately, Feltheimer says that a major cable operator is about to sell downloads of movies to consumers “in a short period of time.” When that happens the electronic sell-through business “is really going to open up.”
The CEO also says that we may see some changes soon at FEARnet, the VOD and broadband horror movie and TV outlet it co-owns with Sony and Comcast. The partners “continue to be mystified that FEARnet isn’t being picked up by more” pay TV companies, Feltheimer says. “We’re trying to figure out how to make FEARnet a more important part of our business or some other way to deliver value, so stay tuned.”
The premium video service is performing well financially and is “going to start looking at original series,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told analysts this morning. Co-owned by his company, Viacom, and MGM, “we’re capable of creating some cool original content.” And it should help EPIX as it negotiates carriage deals with cable and satellite companies. “One or two great scripted shows can drive an entire channel or network, so they’d consider it a plus for us.” Indeed, Feltheimer says, execs are engaged in “pretty significant conversations with [pay TV distributors] who look at EPIX as a channel that they can use in a smart way” as they craft streaming TV Everywhere packages. “We’ve got a fantastic theatrical line-up” that includes “a lot of original stuff, but not scripted.” Read More »
The financial results from the period that ended in September may already look like ancient history to investors who are salivating over potentially blow-out sales later this month for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. And the latest numbers have plenty of quirks as Lionsgate paid a $36.2M charge for early extinguishment of debt, and compare to last year when the company had strong home video sales for The Hunger Games. The result: Net income for the latest period came in at $505,000, way down from last year’s $75.5M, on revenues of $498.7M, -29.5%. Analysts expected a lot more from the top line, about $528.9M in the consensus forecast. But earnings at zero topped predictions for an eight cent loss. Motion Picture revenue fell 29% to $434.4M as the slate led by Red 2 and You’re Next couldn’t match last year’s with The Expendables 2, The Possession, and Step Up Revolution. Home entertainment revenue from movies and TV fell 24.4% to $209.9M. (This year includes Duck Dynasty: Season 3 which Lionsgate says is “currently the biggest-selling TV show on DVD.”) And revenue for the Television Production unit fell 35.1% to $64.3M despite this year’s international sales of Orange Is The New Black and Anger Management. CEO Jon Feltheimer says that the company is “on track for another very good year” and with the new Hunger Games release and TV projects “we are positioned to deliver growth for many years to … Read More »
The same day mini-major announced that its movies will stream in China, the co-chairman of Lionsgate‘s Motion Picture Group have been tapped to receive the Motion Picture Showmanship Award. The ICG Publicists Guild will honor Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman for their career achievements. “These are two of the nicest guys in the business, and they have an uncanny ability to find the right property and make a success of it,” ICG President Steven Poster said. Lionsgate is in theaters with the Robert Redford starrer All Is Lost and has mega-sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire opening November 22. The execs will receive the award February 28 during the 51st annual Publicists Awards Luncheon at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
The Contenders 2013: Robert Redford ‘All Is Lost’ And (Video)
Hot Trailer: ‘Hunger Games: Catching Fire’
The Twilight Saga – Eclipse, The Tree Of Life, Princess Bride, and Dirty Dancing are among the movies that will become available for transactional and subscription VOD on China‘s official streaming site, the companies say. They didn’t disclose terms, but say that they have a “multiyear licensing agreement” for classic Lionsgate and Summit films “and selected new releases.” Lionsgate President of Worldwide Television & Digital Distribution Jim Packer says the deal is one of many the studio is making to distribute its movies and TV shows in China — a huge market that Hollywood is eager to cultivate. “Our website becomes even more attractive to movie fans with the addition of these important Lionsgate and Summit titles, and our audience continues to grow as we present great Chinese and Western films,” M1905 VP Longfei Liang says. Jiaflix Enterprises is a partner at the official Web subsidiary of China Movie Channel/CCTV6. Former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis, a principal at Jiaflix, calls the new agreement “a major step in furthering Jiaflix’s plan to provide the best selection of Chinese and international films to its subscribers in China.” M1905 also shows movies from Paramount.
Reporting from Jerusalem
With the TV business evolving at a rapid pace, Lionsgate COO of television, Sandra Stern, mused on Tuesday that “every generation is now 15 minutes old.” She made the remark on a panel here at Keshet’s Innovative TV Conference and was joined by eOne TV CEO John Morayniss and WME agent and partner Marc Korman. The execs discussed shifting paradigms, a potential talent shortage and the wisdom of remakes.
Business models are changing and “Everybody is looking around saying ‘How do we make noise?’” But “if you do good work, the audiences are going to find you,” Stern commented. Lionsgate’s Orange Is The New Black found a lot of love when it debuted on Netflix this summer. Morayniss noted that along with Netflix and other new entrants, there are “probably over 50 networks in the U.S. that are commissioning original scripted programming.” EOne is teamed with Discovery on Klondike, the net’s first original. “Good shows will rise to the top, there will be a market, and money will be made.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Raising Hope‘s Gary Anthony Williams and his writing partner Jeannie Roshar have sold their romantic comedy pitch I Own You to Lionsgate, with a story that centers on the comedic trials and tribulations of an interracial marriage turned upside down. The duo will co-write I Own You based on a 2008 short film of the same name that they penned and starred in together and which Williams directed. No director or talent has been set for the feature version, but I understand Williams and Roshar aren’t expected to reprise their characters from the short, only write the project. Williams, whose credits include Boston Legal, Malcolm In The Middle, The Boondocks, and Fox’s The Internship, currently appears on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Raising Hope, and on Cartoon Network’s MAD. He’s also active on the improv scene and, with Roshar, co-founded the LA Comedy Shorts Festival. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Oculus filmmakers Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard have sold their original pitch Peekers to Lionsgate. It’s a low-budget horror film that they will adapt from the short story by Bram Stoker Award-winning Irish novelist Kealan Patrick Burke. Last Vegas’ Lawrence Grey will produce through his Grey Matter Productions. A terrified man walks into a police station to report that the residents on his entire street are missing, insisting the victims were done in by eerie, grinning doppelgangers. When the man disappears from the locked interrogation room, the young female officer who took his statement must venture out into the rapidly vanishing community to find her son and get him to safety as the community is infested by these deadly grinning idiots. Flanagan and Howard wrote and Flanagan directed Oculus, which Relativity and Blumhouse acquired at Toronto and slated for a 2014 release. They are following with Somnia. Duo is repped by APA, Affirmative Entertainment and Joel Vanderkloot. Lionsgate’s John Sacchi is overseeing.
Pantelion Films and South Shore, the film and TV ventures of Lionsgate and Mexico’s Televisa, continue to build up their talent roster. The companies have signed a first-look film and TV deal with Wilmer Valderrama for him to develop, star in and produce feature projects for Pantelion as well as produce scripted and unscripted TV projects for South Shore. The pact expands the companies’ relationship with Valderrama, one of the stars of Pantelion’s first film, From Prada To Nada. (The company is currently riding the success of hit Spanish-language comedy Instructions Not Included.) The deal with Valderrama follows a similar deal Pantelion and South Shore inked last week with George Lopez and a pact with Zoe, Cisely and Marel Saldana’s Cinestar Prods. “Wilmer is a versatile acting and producing talent with strong crossover appeal to mainstream U.S. and Latino audiences,” said Paul Presburger, CEO of Pantelion Films and Managing Director of Televisa USA. Valderrama is repped by UTA and Silver Lining Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: Two weeks ago when I broke the story that Imagine, Universal, Gary Ross and Jennifer Lawrence teaming on a two-part feature adaptation of John Steinbeck’s East Of Eden, I reported that The Hunger Games trio of Ross, Lawrence and producer Allison Shearmur (a key exec on the film) would come to market with the new Hannah Kent novel Burial Rites. CAA indeed took the book to auction last week, and I’m hearing that it’s likely to shape up as a complete Hunger Games reunion as Lionsgate has started negotiations for the package. The deal isn’t done, but I’m betting that it gets done this week. This comes after Kent got a seven-figure deal for her first novel from Little, Brown. It has gotten great reviews. The book tells the story a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829 and who faces becoming the last woman to be publicly executed there. The film will tell the story of a tragic romance set against the odds during an endless Icelandic summer. Stay tuned.
On the heels of the breakout success of Pantelion‘s Spanish-language comedy Instructions Not Included, the feature venture between Lionsgate and Mexican media giant Televisa as well the companies’ TV studio South Shore have signed an overall film and TV deal with top Latino comedy actor George Lopez. Lionsgate is already in business with Lopez with Saint George, a 10/90 comedy series at FX. The first project under the new agreement is Pantelion Films’ English-language feature La Vida Robot, starring and produced by Lopez, which is slated to begin production in mid-October in New Mexico. It is based on Joshua Davis’ Wired magazine story about four undocumented Mexican-American teenagers from Phoenix who form a robotics team and, with $800, used car parts and a dream, they build an underwater robot that wins the national robotics competition taking down reigning champion MIT. Sean McNamara (Soul Surfer) is directing from a script by Elissa Matsueda, with Lopez, Circle of Confusion’s David Alpert, Rick Jacobs, Travieso’s Leslie Kolins Small and Pantelion’s Ben Odell producing and Ron Bass co-producing. The TV slate includes comedies and an action drama in development with Stan Lee. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The new arrangement will unite two of YouTube’s leading fitness video providers. Lionsgate BeFit targets women while Scott Herman Fitness focuses on men. Lionsgate BeFit Network will have more than 1M subscribers with the addition of Herman’s 400,000. The companies aren’t disclosing specifics about their deal. But Lionsgate likely will be able to boost ad sales with the additional viewers while Herman should have new opportunities to profit from sales of DVDs and possibly films. The alliance “brings us one step closer to our goal of teaching fitness to the world,” Herman says. Lionsgate’s Kajsa Vikman says the blend “is our next step towards becoming a worldwide fitness brand.”