Cowen and Company analyst Doug Creutz raises that concern this morning in a report that downgrades Lionsgate to “market perform” from “buy.” The production company’s been a Wall Street hero with the success of its The TwilightSaga andThe Hunger Games franchises. Ender’s Game, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Divergent. “Although we tend to think that these three films will, taken as a whole, perform well, we think there is a risk of a sell-the-news reaction even if expectations are met,” Creutz says. “If one or more films underperform, however, we think there is a risk of significant downside to shares.” He’s concerned that Ender’s Game — about a boy who’s given the responsibility to lead the world’s military against an alien invasion — will fail to reach wide audiences after its November 1 release. In addition to “its hardcore sci-fi theme and difficult source material,” Creutz says that book author Orson Scott Card’s opposition to gay marriage “could cause some of the potential audience to avoid the film.” The analyst projects a domestic box office of $70M, which probably wouldn’t be sufficient to justify sequels. Read More »
The action film starring Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren “underperformed our expectations at the domestic box office” but will “make a solid profit” as it opens in overseas markets, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told analysts this morning. Still, the company says it has a solid batting average with its portfolio, with a sequel for Now You See Me “in the planning stages.” And it anticipates a home run in March with Divergent. One exec says it appears on pace to become a success on the order of The Hunger Games, calling the parallels in the early feedback “very, very strong and very, very similar.” Feltheimer added that there’s a lower bar to cross because “we budgeted the film like a commercial release, not like a blockbuster.” He also likes the financial terms for the action film Ender’s Game, due in November. “We’re 25% of the equity investment in the film with a low threshold for domestic performance for us to break even.” Regarding recent casting changes for Expendables 3 – Harrison Ford is joining and Bruce Willis is leaving — Feltheimer says that “these deals are being negotiated up to the last day” and “the franchise is going to have a lot of new and exciting blood in it.” The CEO also talked up Lionsgate’s television business, noting that the company … Read More »
Even though it went second today, I will focus first on Ender’s Game, the Gavin Hood-directed adaptation of the Orson Scott Card novel series about the attempt to find youthful prodigies with the gunner skills to save humanity from invading aliens. The film has gotten recent unwanted exposure because of the personal views the author has expressed against same-sex marriage, prompting distributor Summit to disavow attitudes that have nothing to do with the film.
While the film company might have preferred the issue not come up — the author was conspicuously absent — there was no such luck. When the panelists fielded questions, the first one was to ask how the makers of the film are dealing with the Card controversy. Producer Roberto Orci said they stood behind Summit and Lionsgate’s statement supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights and that he would hate to see the fortunes of the movie discounted, given its themes of tolerance and empathy. “Rather than shy away from this, I would reiterate that we support LGBT rights, and human rights,” Orci said. Read More »
Just six days remain until Lionsgate brings its new big budget sci-fi franchise Ender’s Game to Comic-Con, where the studio is keeping controversial author and anti-gay advocate Orson Scott Card out of its panel line-up. But an online protest calling out Card for his inflammatory past remarks has now prompted Lionsgate to step into the fray for some damage control. The “Skip Ender’s Game” petition hosted by Geeks OUT calls for fans to boycott the Summit-released November 1 pic in theaters, on DVD, and On Demand and to avoid buying merchandising and toys to “keep your money out of Orson Scott Card’s pockets.” Card responded to the furor with his own cry for tolerance last week, which only stoked the fire. The studio today announced unspecified plans to host a benefit premiere to support LGBT causes. Here’s Lionsgate’s statement:
As proud longtime supporters of the LGBT community, champions of films ranging from Gods and Monsters to The Perks of Being a Wallflower and a company that is proud to have recognized same-sex unions and domestic partnerships within its employee benefits policies for many years, we obviously do not agree with the personal views of Orson Scott Card and those of the National Organization for Marriage. However, they are completely irrelevant to a discussion of Ender’s Game. The simple fact is that
Harrison Ford will return for the second time to San Diego Comic-Con as Summit presents its next would-be franchise, Ender’s Game – but controversial author Orson Scott Card will not be joining in the festivities. The Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novelist drew fire for his publicly anti-gay views earlier this year when DC Comics tapped him to pen a Superman comic. Despite being a producer on the film and a huge figure in the sci-fi-fantasy world, Card’s conspicuously being kept at a distance from the film’s promotional campaign. Not that Summit’s lacking in star power. Ford, who made his first Comic-Con appearance for 2010′s Cowboys & Aliens, is set to appear in Hall H on Thursday, July 18 with producer Bob Orci, director Gavin Hood, and co-stars Asa Butterfield, Hailee Steinfeld, and Abigail Breslin to preview new footage from the sci-fi adaptation about a young boy recruited into an intergalactic war. Offsite Summit is constructing an 8-room interactive Ender’s Game exhibit for fans in the heavily trafficked downtown Gaslamp district, in addition to hosting its usual booth on the convention floor. It’s a big promo push for the November 1 release as Summit attempts to launch its next YA-driven franchise now that The Twilight Saga is over. Meanwhile, parent company Lionsgate was first out of the … Read More »
After the six major studios wrapped up their turns in front of the CinemaCon convention goers with 20th Century Fox earlier today, it was Lionsgate‘s turn to carry the flag for the indie sector, even though NATO’s John Fithian said last year that in Lionsgate we are seeing the birth of the “seventh major studio”. And although some of the speakers during the company’s relatively brief presentation this afternoon took up that mantle, Lionsgate in its sizzle reel actually touted the fact that they are the only non-major to actually go over $1 billion in a single year — certainly thanks to the dynamic duo of Summit’s Twilight finales and The Hunger Games, which became the third-highest-grossing film of 2012 with more than $400 million domestically. So are they are a major? A mini-major? A true independent? Or just a money-minting film company with a couple of franchises the real majors would kill for (and in the case of Twilight actually passed on — ouch).
But as befits any wannabe major, a spiffier, more corporate logo was in order, and as Deadline reported earlier they debuted it for the theatre owners here in Las Vegas. As distribution head Richie Fay put it during his turn onstage, “Lionsgate is an overnight success that was 12 years in the making”.
As far as the presentation went, Lionsgate certainly took an independent route from the way the majors have behaved all week, offering a musical-chairs lineup of executives taking their turn in front of delegates who crowded into the Colosseum to check out the product. In addition to Fay, we also heard from CEO and co-founder Jon Feltheimer, co-chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Rob Friedman and AMC theatres exec Elizabeth Frank, who pointed out the company released 20 major films in 2012 and led the field 11 separate weeks. She said her company was looking forward to the 17 movies on tap this year and many of them were showcased for the first time over the course of the 80-minute show emceed by comedian Kevin Hart. Read More »
Veteran Michael Nathanson is a former president and COO of MGM Pictures and onetime worldwide production boss at Columbia Pictures, and he had been consulting for OddLot Entertainment in mapping out its business plan. Now he will join longtime OddLot exec Bill Lischak as co-presidents of the production company behind pics like Drive, Rabbit Hole and the upcoming Ender’s Game. The two will work in tandem under the direction of OddLot founder and CEO Gigi Pritzker to oversee the company’s day-to-day operations and push forward its strategy. “Bill and Michael both bring incredible strengths and complementary skill sets to the table and I am privileged to be able to work with both to implement the robust business plan we have developed over the last six months”, Pritzker said in a release announcing the news. Read More »
Earlier this month, a bankruptcy judge fast-tracked an auction for financially troubled special effects company Digital Domain. On Sunday, the James Cameron-founded business announced that a joint venture between Galloping Horse America and Reliance MediaWorks will acquire Digital Domain Productions and subsidiary Mothership Media for $30.2M. Under the agreement, Chinese film and TV company Galloping Horse and India’s Reliance will pick up all the of the groups’ business assets including feature film and advertising visual effects, commercial production, studios in California and Vancouver and a co-production stake in Lionsgate’s Ender’s Game of which Digital Domain has been a co-producer. Galloping Horse holds a 70% stake with Reliance MediaWorks taking 30%. “This is a great day for Digital Domain,” said CEO Ed Ulbrich. “Our new partners have incredible strength and reach in the global entertainment marketplace. Read More »
Hollywood studios will not be pulling the plug on projects at the financially troubled special-effects company after Digital Domain got some breathing room yesterday in bankruptcy court. Judge Brenden Shannon approved a fast-tracked auction of Digital Domain Media Group for September 21 and a debtor-in-possession order (read it here) that gives the almost-broke company immediate access to almost $12 million. The new auction date comes after newly named DDMG chief Ed Ulbrich told the court that six Hollywood studios told him they would start pulling projects from the Oscar-winning company this week unless Digital Domain had a clear financial path forward. The loss of those effects projects would result in the removal of what is currently 80% of the company’s revenues. “We’ve been fighting diligently to fend off a run on the company, Ulbrich testified. DDGM’s lawyer Robert Feinstein put it even more bluntly: “The studios are freaking out,” the attorney told the judge. Some of the films that Digital Domain is currently working on include Lionsgate’s Ender’s Game (Digital Domain is a co-producer), New Line’s Jack The Giant Killer, and Paramount’s G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
Sierra/Affinity will handle international sales for The Trials Of Cate McCall and Plus One. Currently shooting in LA, the legal redemption drama Trialsstars Kate Beckinsale and Nick Nolte. The thriller Plus One, directed by Dennis Iliadis, stars Rhys Wakefield, Ashley Hinshaw, Logan Miller and Natalie Hall. “Trials and Plus One are both strong projects that I know will resonate with audiences worldwide and we are very pleased to have been chosen to handle what I know will be strong international sales,” Sierra/Affinity CEO Nick Meyer said.
The 18-month-old Sierra/Affinity also has two films in production in partnership with Incentive Filmed Entertainment; the Taylor Hackford-directed crime thriller Parker, starring Jason Statham and Nolte, and the suspense thriller Wer are scheduled for release next year. Partnering with OddLot Entertainment, Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and Bold Films, Sierra/Affinity has seven films in postproduction and five planned to start production before the end of the year, including the sci-fi prodigy pic Ender’s Game.
Summit Entertainment’s Ender’s Game, the long awaited adaptation of the Orson Scott Card science fiction novel, has been moved from March 15, 2013 to November 1, 2013. The Gavin Hood-directed film stars Hugo‘s Asa Butterfield, Abigail Breslin, Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld and Viola Davis in a drama that puts the fate of the world in the hands of pint sized prodigy pilots battling an alien force.
EXCLUSIVE: Nonso Anozie (The Grey) will play Sergeant Dap in the film version of Orson Scott Card’s best-selling novel Ender’s Game. The film, which begins production this month in New Orleans, is a futuristic adventure about brilliant young strategist Ender Wiggin, who is drafted by the International Fleet to save the human race. Gavin Hood (Academy Award winner Totsi) will direct from a script he adapted. In addition to Anozie, Stevie Ray Dallimore (Joyful Noise) has been cast as Ender’s father John and Andrea Powell (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2) joins as Ender’s mother Theresa. The three star opposite Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Viola Davis, Hailee Steinfeld, Abigail Breslin, and Asa Butterfield as Ender. Anozie is repped by Meg Mortimer at Principal Entertainment and Megan Willis at the UK’s Garricks. Summit Entertainment is co-financing and will release the film domestically March 15, 2013.
Ben Kingsley and Brandon Soo Hoo (G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra) are set to join Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Stanfield and Abigail Breslin in the film version of Orson Scott Card’s bestselling novel Ender’s Game. The feature is a futuristic adventure a young strategist (Butterfield) who is drafted by the International Fleet to save the human race from hostile alien invaders. Kingsley, repped by CAA and the UK’s Independent Talent Group, will play Mazer Rackham, a legendary war hero. Soo Hoo, repped by Paradigm and DreamScope, will play Fly Molo. Summit Entertainment is co-financing and will release the film domestically March 15, 2013. Production is set for next month in New Orleans.
EXCLUSIVE: Asa Butterfield, the 14-year old title star of Martin Scorsese’s 3D film Hugo, has been offered the title role in Ender’s Game, the Odd Lot Entertainment adaptation of the Orson Scott Card science fiction novel. Summit Entertainment will release the film March 15, 2013. Gavin Hood, who helmed Tsotsi and Wolverine, is directing. Ender’s Game is a seminal futuristic novel that Card originated as a short story in 1977 and then turned into a 1985 book that won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards and spawned a series. The storyline begins on Earth after a devastating alien attack, when gifted children are recruited by a government desperate to fight back. The kids train to fight the seemingly invincible, ruthless aliens on a hyper-realistic spaceflight/combat simulator referred to as the game. A young boy emerges as a genius strategist and the planet’s best hope to destroy the alien Formic race.
Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are producing through their K/O Paper Products banner, along with Odd Lot’s Gigi Pritzker and Linda McDonough, the author and Lynn Hendee. Digital Domain is also an equity partner. Butterfield, who’s repped by CAA and UK-based Independent, also starred in The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Son of Rambow. He was among several young actors who met for that Ender role, and signs look good that he’ll be … Read More »
Summit Entertainment has set or adjusted release dates for a handful of movies due next year and in 2013. Step Up 4, the next installment of the successful dance franchise, is now positioned on July 27, 2012. Set in Miami, this one’s directed by Scott Speer. The previous three Step Ups have grossed a combined $424.3 million worldwide. Warm Bodies, the odd zombie romance-adventure directed by Jonathan Levine starring Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich and Dave Franco, is planted August 10, 2012. Debuting two weeks later August 24 is Sinister. The supernatural crime tale directed by Scott Derrickson stars Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio and for now goes up against Sony’s Premium Rush.For 2013, Louis Leterrier’s illusionist-heist flick Now You See Me is slated to materialize January 18. Cast includes Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson and Mark Ruffalo. That day currently also has Disney/Pixar’s reformatted-in-3D Monsters, Inc, as well as Lionsgate’s The Last Stand. Director Gavin Hood’s movie based on Orson Scott Card’s phenomenal Ender’s Gameis targeted for March 15. The landmark bestseller about kids trained to battle a ruthless insectoid alien race using videogame-console-based weaponry spawned a host of subsequent books — and ripe sequel and spinoff possibilities. Ender’s competition on that date is Warner Bros’ Arthur & Lancelot. And the retired and extremely dangerous ex-CIA operatives from RED … Read More »