Lionsgate has slotted Johnny Depp-starrer Mortdecai for February 6, 2015. The action comedy, adapted from the 1970s novels by Kyril Bonfiglioli, centers on debonair art dealer and part-time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Depp). Charlie juggles angry Russians, the British …
Lionsgate is the latest studio to shake up its marketing operations, saying today it is combining operations under Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen that will give him oversight of film marketing for Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment product as well as its Pantelion Films joint venture with Televisa and urban Codeblack Films label. With the consolidation, Summit’s president of worldwide marketing Nancy Kirkpatrick is resigning at month’s end (although she doesn’t appear to be in her office now). As the company streamlines its operations — it currently releases about 12 to 15 movies a year now — the question is if others might follow Kirkpatrick out the door.
Kirkpatrick, who is well-regarded, ends her tenure after shepherding the marketing efforts for all five Twilight Saga films as well as the recent launch of the first pic in the Divergent franchise, which bowed last month with a $56.4 million opening weekend and has grossed $175M-plus to date worldwide. Draft Day was the last picture to open and it didn’t do well, grossing only $9.7M this past weekend, but the last three Kevin Costner film openings have been soft.
“Nancy has done a great job and has been an important part of this company,” said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chair Rob Friedman, “And Tim has done an amazing job and has great relationships with both staffs.” One source noted that the word ‘integration’ has been talked about for awhile in the hallways of Lionsgate and Summit.
In fact, one of the biggest question marks since Lionsgate merged with Summit in 2012 was what would happen to their two veteran marketing heads. Eventually, Lionsgate’s Palen was given a new long-term deal to remain Chief Marketing Officer and it was decided Summit’s Kirkpatrick would continue in her role separately since the two entities had their own big slates to shepherd. As part of that structure, Palen was tasked with overseeing all of Lionsgate Films’ North American theatrical marketing campaigns and strategy, media, creative advertising and digital media initiatives as well as continuing to supervise the company’s corporate branding activities — he oversaw the marketing campaign for Lionsgate’s signature franchise The Hunger Games while Kilpatrick guided Twilight pics. As part of today’s moves, Palen now has expanded responsibilities for merchandising, theme park attractions and new business opportunities generated by the company’s franchises. He joined Lionsgate in 2002 as VP Theatrical Marketing.
SANTA MONICA, CA, and VANCOUVER, BC, April 14, 2014 – Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), the premier next generation global content leader, and RocketJump Studios, a pioneering digital studio that has emerged as one of YouTube’s hottest innovators, have formed a ground-breaking multiyear partnership for the creation of film, television and digital content, the two companies announced today.
EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate/Summit will adapt Veronica Roth‘s Divergent novel trilogy into a total of not three, but four films starring Shailene Woodley as the dystopian sci-fi heroine Beatrice “Tris” Prior, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger revealed today. Following last month’s blockbuster hit Divergent and its planned 2015 sequel Insurgent, Allegiant – adapted from the third book in Roth’s bestselling YA book series – will be split into two separate films to conclude the franchise. Lionsgate had previously set Allegiant for a March 18, 2016 release. Allegiant Part 1 will keep that date, with Part 2 to follow on March 24, 2017. Both films will be produced separately.
Divergent has quickly made a box office star of Woodley, who will reprise her role in all three sequels as Tris, the 16-year-old girl who finds herself a target as one of few in her futuristic society who defy categorization into one of five personality-based factions. The first picture scored a $54.6M opening in March and has now racked up $117M domestic and $139M worldwide in three weeks of release. It’s still rolling out strong internationally and opens this weekend in France, Germany, Russia, Australia, Scandinavia, and other territories. Meanwhile sales of Roth’s novels have also enjoyed a bump from the film’s release, with boxed set and multi-book e-bundles jumping up 55 percent in sales last week and nearly 20 million copies sold worldwide.
Looks like more than the paranormal are a threat when it comes to The Conjuring. After months in arbitration with Warner Bros over who owns what rights to the sequels and spinoffs of the successful New Line-released supernatural thriller, producer Tony DeRosa-Grund and his Evergreen Media late last week filed a breach of contract complaint (read it here) against the studio and its subsidiary. And it’s not just over movies: the 30-page complaint alleges that because of this dispute with Warners and New Line, Lionsgate eventually pulled out of a proposed Conjuring TV series deal it had with Evergreen in late summer last year. “As a direct consequence of Defendants’ deliberate actions and interference, Evergreen is unable to collect the compensation owed under its agreement with Lionsgate and has suffered monetary damages that reach well into the millions of dollars,” says the complaint filed in federal court in Texas on March 28. Released on July 19 last year, Conjuring has pulled in more than $318 million globally, and a sequel set for October 2015 was announced last month. Among other claims by DeRosa-Grund and Evergreen is that the producer has not been paid the profit participation he and New Line agreed on out of their use of case-file material the plaintiffs owned of the investigations of Ed and Lorrain Warren.
The plaintiffs evoke the names of Bob and Harvey Weinstein in their dense complaint as yet another example of Warner Bros and New Line playing a rights shell game.
The bulldog investor has had plenty to say lately about the online auction site’s management. And he continued to vent in a post on his Shareholders’ Square Table site today. But while he was at it, Carl Icahn landed a …
Three days before the movie’s national release, an audience of about 1,000 farm workers is seeing Diego Luna‘s biopic about the legendary civil rights leader and union organizer at the site where their union began in the 1960s. Cesar Chavez is getting an outdoor screening tonight at the Forty Acres outside Delano, CA, which is depicted in the film and now is a National Historic Landmark. Luna introduced the movie, which stars Michael Pena as Cesar Chavez alongside America Ferrera — who is at the screening — Rosario Dawson, Gabriel Mann and John Malkovich. The film scripted by Keir Pearson and Timothy J. Sexton won an Audience Award at SXSW this month after premiering at Berlin. It also screened at the White House last week. Lionsgate is releasing the pic from Pantelion, Participant Media, Televisa Cine and Image Nation. Participant is advocating for a national day of service on Cesar Chavez Day, March 31, which is a state holiday in California, Texas and Colorado. Here’s how the scene looked tonight:
On an ordinary day you’d expect Lionsgate shares to rebound nicely today. Stifel’s Benjamin Mogil predicted “a sigh of relief” after the studio’s latest release, Divergent, pretty much met analysts’ recently lowered expectations by generating $56M at domestic box offices over the weekend. But company shares are up 2.7% in mid-day trading, leaving Lionsgate down 14% since March 12, while exhibition stocks are off today. Investors are responding to the anemic overall box office results — as well as a report showing weak growth in U.S. manufacturing, and growing predictions that Russia could fall into a recession following Western economic sanctions its annexation of Crimea. The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index is down about 1%. Too bad for Lionsgate: Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker says the film beat her $50M target and “more than likely sets up another franchise for the studio.” MKM Partners’ Eric Handler thought Divergent would hit $64M but notes that “solid word of mouth … could help sustain the film’s legs in the coming weeks.”
Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions have jointly acquired writer-director Justin Simien‘s debut feature Dear White People, which snagged the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent at Sundance in January. Dear White People takes a satirical look at racial politics among the student body at a fictional Ivy League school where four students navigate issues of black militancy, post-racism, and the commodification of black culture on campus. Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris), Tessa Thompson (Veronica Mars), Teyonah Parris (Mad Men), and Brandon P Bell (Hollywood Heights) star. Simien made a splash in Park City with the pic, which pays homage to predecessors like Spike Lee’s School Daze and Robert Townshend’s Hollywood Shuffle. Ahead of a planned fall 2014 release, Dear White People is set to screen at this weekend’s New Directors/New Films.
The stock price closed -5.1% as worrisome developments from the weekend overwhelmed the announcement this morning of a 5 cent-a-share quarterly dividend. Lionsgate was teed up for a weak day after Tyler Perry’s Single Moms Club underperformed in its opening weekend. It generated about $8M domestically, making it Perry’s first film to open with less than $10M. It also was far less than the Street anticipated. For example, MKM Partners’ Eric Handler forecast $15M while Wells Fargo’s Marci Ryvicker predicted $17.5M. Investors might have overlooked the disappointment if it hadn’t been accompanied by early raspberries from the Hollywood trades for Divergent, the action-adventure film that Lionsgate hopes to turn into a Twilight- or Hunger Games-sized franchise after it opens this weekend. Variety criticized the film’s “uncertain sense of setting, bloated plot, drab visual style and solid yet underwhelming lead turns from Shailene Woodley and Theo James,”
The CEO of Anonymous Content today let loose against Lakeshore Entertainment over its firing of him last year from the romantic drama Adaline. “There is no polite way to put it: Lakeshore tried to pull a fast one to avoid honoring its obligations to prominent film, television, and commercial producer [Steve] Golin in connection with the upcoming film Adaline, featuring Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, and Blake Lively,” says the breach of contract and unjust enrichment complaint Golin filed today by in LA Superior Court (read it here). Golin and his Overt Operations claim that he is owed “no less than $450,000 and no more than $1,000,000” under a Loanout Agreement with Lakeshore as well as a hefty backend on the pic. The talent and management company boss also says he had no idea about a section of the agreement that seems to give Lakeshore the right to can him as they did. Requesting a jury trial, Golin, who is an EP on HBO’s True Detective among his many credits, and his company are seeking unspecified damages, proper credit and a change in the agreement plus legal costs and the usual “for such other and further relief as the Court deems proper and just” in the 5-claim complaint.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. and VANCOUVER, BC, March 11, 2014 — Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), a leading global entertainment company, announced today that the global blockbuster Hunger Games franchise continued to gain momentum as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire sold an estimated 3.9 million DVD and Blu-ray units in its first weekend of North American release and had the biggest digital launch in the Company’s history with opening weekend digital sales increasing nearly 40% over the first Hunger Games film.
First deal out of SXSW today is Lionsgate‘s purchase of the North American rights for Eduardo Sanchez‘s Bigfoot feature Exists. Sanchez co-directed the 1999 microbudget title The Blair Witch Project for $60K, which then-distributor Artisan morphed into a worldwide phenom with close to $250 million at the box office. Below is Lionsgate’s release for the Jamie Nash-scripted Exists:
(Austin, TX & Santa Monica, CA, March 8, 2014) — Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) has acquired North American distribution rights to EXISTS, a new horror film from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT director Eduardo Sánchez. The film played last night to a sold-out midnight screening at SXSW in Austin.
In Bigfoot’s bold return to the big screen, five friends on a camping weekend in the remote woods of East Texas struggle to survive against a legendary predator that is stronger, smarter, and more terrifying than anything they would have ever believed exists.