A rising DA (Dominic Cooper) hits a guy with his car and leaves him in the street. Another guy (Samuel L. Jackson) is found with the body and faces a murder charge. The guilty prosecutor manipulates the trial to help the defendant go free. But did he just let a serial killer walk — one who now is targeting the DA’s family? Gloria Reuben also stars in Lionsgate‘s Reasonable Doubt, which was directed by Peter P. Croudins and penned by Peter A. Dowling (Flightplan). Here’s the trailer for the thriller that opens January 17 in theaters and VOD:
6TH UPDATE: The staggering grosses turned in this weekend by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen, and the collective strong box office that will likely result in a record five-day Thanksgiving weekend come along at a fortuitous time for the movie business. Why? Because fear has ruled the roost lately, and these numbers on a diversity of mostly smart films shows clearly that if you give an audience a story well told, they will show up.
The performance of Catching Fire and Frozen are all the more remarkable if you consider that both of these films are squarely driven by female heroines. Conventional wisdom is that the marketplace could never support more than one female-driven film, because while gals will see guy movies, it doesn’t work the other way. Well, it worked big time — both films crushed the 5-day Thanksgiving domestic gross record – and it happened shortly after another female driven film, Gravity, crossed the $600 million mark in global gross this weekend. That movie would not have been made if not for a maverick advocate and you could make the same argument for a drama about Somali pirates, Captain Phillips, which has passed the $100 million mark domestically and will crack $200 million worldwide on a $55 million budget. You can look at The Best Man Holiday and Last Vegas (CBS Films’ biggest grossing film ever) and find similarly encouraging signs; good movies made for a price, finding crossover audiences.
This is important, coming just on the heels of that Sony investors meeting held on the Culver City lot. It was a powwow that on the surface seemed to be a capitulation to cranky shareholders like Daniel Loeb, who, as George Clooney said, whined about two summer flops but betrayed a complete lack of understanding of how the movie business works. This weekend was a good reminder that, few legal businesses are capable of creating cash as quickly as blockbusters do. The people who make those bets are like shrewd riverboat gamblers, and if the current climate makes them fearful, they will not make good films. They are only good if they’ve got swagger and cockiness, and it would be nice to imagine a weekend like this serves as a reminder of what happens when smart risks are taken and good movies are the result.
When Sony responded to Loeb’s criticism by announcing plans to shed $100 million in overhead and trimming back its film slates to instead put more chips on TV projects, some in town wondered if Japan was planning to sell its showbiz division. Nonsense, say insiders I trust.
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.
7TH UPDATE: The 1 PM football games are starting, so I will be brief. International numbers for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire are pouring in now, and they are as good as the domestic numbers. The film has grossed $146.6 million in 63 territories, which puts its global opening weekend gross at $307.7 in 65 territories. That’s 45% better than the $211.8 million worldwide that The Hunger Games grossed in its opening weekend. That puts the film halfway to matching the $286.3 million international gross of that original film. It opened in the top spot in nearly all markets, more than doubling The Hunger Games in most markets according to Rentrak. Germany and Denmark tripled their opening weekend numbers while UK, Netherlands and Sweden were 2.5 times better. Russia was 1.5 times better than the original’s opening. Meanwhile WB’s Gravity opened to $35.5 million in China. Like I said, a good weekend for everyone except Carl Icahn.
6TH UPDATE, 9:29 am PST: Well, Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games: Catching Fire hit the Saturday numbers Deadline reported in timely fashion for insomniacs, and the film is now expected to hit $161.1 million. Besides trouncing the competition, and beating Twilight Saga: Full Moon for biggest November opening, how does it rate for other records? According to Rentrak, here’s the deal: Catching Fire generated the 2nd best debut of 2013 behind Iron Man 3‘s $174.1 million; it marks the fourth best opening weekend of all time, trailing The Avengers‘ $207 million, Iron Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2‘s $169.2M. Catching Fire did better than The Dark Knight Rises‘ $160.9 million. In IMAX, Catching Fire’s domestic weekend gross is an estimated $12.6M on 347 screens, also a record for November 3-day launch as it passed Skyfall‘s $12.5 million. It certainly positions the film to surpass the $408 million grossed domestically by the first film, given there’s a long holiday weekend coming up. Lionsgate gets two more bites at the apple, as it is telling the three-book tale in four movies in a blatant cash grab. I have yet to see where this dilution of a crackling three novel story benefits anyone other than the studio when it is stretched out into another film (I think it hurt The Twilight Saga, because the third installment, Bella’s pregnancy, was excruciating.) Author Suzanne Collins is in the mix on these films, so maybe they’ll add stuff. But if these authors wanted to tell trilogies in four installments, they would have written four books, right?
Analyzing far in Catching Fire‘s rear view mirror, the other major release, Delivery Man, didn’t deliver much at all as counter-programming. Maybe the film (studio insiders said it cost $22 million) would have fared better had it opened one week ago against The Best Man Holiday, because clearly Catching Fire consumed most of the oxygen this weekend. Maybe it would have been better to simply avoid such a competitive time period. Thor: The Dark World saw a 61% drop since last weekend, and The Best Man Holiday was off 58%, showing Catching Fire fatigue. How are the Oscar films faring? 12 Years A Slave is running out of steam, Dallas Buyers Club is working in core areas and breakout potential seems dubious. Nebraska bowed just okay and Book Thief a little less than that while Philomena got off to a more encouraging start. The next big family film, Disney’s Frozen, did great in one house and opens wide November 27. The other animation juggernaut, Despicable Me 2, got a bit of new life in 295 theaters, squeaking out $342,000. Speaking of the record books, the $76 million film is at $916.5 million worldwide gross. Universal’s all-time record holder is Jurassic Park, which grossed $118 million worldwide in a 3D re-release which put it just over the $1 billion mark. In order to crack that record, Despicable Me 2 will need to open in China, which should be in the cards but hasn’t yet been solidified. Here is an updated look at how the Top 10 films will finish the weekend:
1) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
PG-13/ Lionsgate/ New/ Runs: 4,163/ Friday: $70.1 million; Saturday: $52.8 million. Sunday: $36.9 million. Weekend Total: $160.6 million. Per-screen average: $36,586. Total domestic gross: $160.6 million.
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.
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 …
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.”
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 …
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, …
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.