The stock is down 6.6% in initial trading after the independent studio released its results for the first three months of 2014. Year over year comparisons are complicated by a $141.M tax benefit Lionsgate received in the period in 2013. With that factored in, net income fell nearly 70% to $49.2M on revenues of $721.9M, -8%. The top line missed analysts’ prediction of $823.6M. Earnings at 35 cents a share also were short of forecasts for 40 cents. Investors’ feelings about the company could change tomorrow morning when execs likely will offer financial guidance for the next year or two.
Lionsgate Says It Will Ramp Up Brand Extensions Including New Game And Exhibition For ‘Hunger Games’
Lionsgate Predicts Big Profit Increase, But Stock Still Falls On Earnings Miss
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EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has made a deal with the YouTube prank crew The Janoskians to develop a feature film star vehicle for the group. The film label will try to harness a rabid online following and turn it into a movie ticket buyers. The Janoskians, who are born and bred on the Internet and provide a mix of the outrageous with some social commentary, have developed an enormous YouTube following since making their debut in 2011. Their fan base has grown to more than 15 million followers and 200 million views. They’ve spread their brand to include a sold-out worldwide Live Nation tour last year, a clothing line called Dirty Pig, a record deal with Republic Records, and a video game on iTunes/Android called Ouch! Couch. Their personal appearances in malls from Los Angeles to New York and London resulted in closings and evacuations because of crowd-control issues. Now, if all goes well, they will be movie stars.
Related: YouTube Touts New DreamWorksTV Channel As It Promotes Itself As An Ad-Friendly Platform
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EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has taken U.S. and Canadian rights to thriller Operation Avalanche, the next film from Slamdance-anointed The Dirties filmmaker Matt Johnson. Plot is being kept under wraps but film investigates the truth behind the CIA’s involvement in the space race. Multi-hyphenate Johnson wrote, directed, and starred in the The Dirties which won the 2013 Slamdance Grand Jury Prize and in October was tapped to script the Encyclopedia Brown flick for WB. For Operation Avalanche he’s reteaming with Dirties co-writer Josh Boles, co-star Owen Williams, and producer Matthew Miller, with Lee Kim also aboard as producer. “The CIA, the 1960′s and the space program have always been obsessions of mine. Working with partners like Lionsgate, who understand the scope and vision of what we are creating, has been a pleasure. This movie is going to leave audiences with a powerful and imaginative interpretation of what may or may not have happened within the walls of the US’s top government agencies,” said Johnson. XYZ Films’ Nick Spicer is exec producer on the project. Lionsgate’s Michael Paseornek, John Sacchi, and Jessica Switch are overseeing for the studio, with production slated to start June 30 in Toronto, Houston, and Washington D.C. XYZ Films is repping international sales. The company’s Nate Bolotin negotiated the deal with Akin Gump’s Chris Spicer and WME. Johnson is repped by Management 360, WME and Akin Gump.
Johnny Depp doing Harry Houdini in Lionsgate’s Summit biopic based on William Kalush and Larry Sloman’s book The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero? It’s being blasted elsewhere as a big scoop, but some followup reporting convinces us that it’s not much further along when Deadline reported on it earlier this year. It’s one of several Houdini projects in development including Sony’s Houdini. Red 2‘s Dean Parisot is set to direct the Lionsgate film from a script by Noah Oppenheim.
EXCLUSIVE: WWE Studios and Lionsgate have renewed their partnership with a six-picture deal to produce a new sextet of action pics, starting with Vendetta from twin-sister directing duo Jen and Sylvia Soska (Dead Hooker In A Trunk). The Soska Twins previously combined on horror pic American Mary and directed See No Evil 2 starring WWE’s Kane for WWE Studios and Lionsgate. Vendetta, written by Justin Shady, tracks a hard-nosed detective who deliberately commits a crime to get sent to prison, where he seeks vengeance on the crook serving a life sentence for murdering the detective’s wife. The WWE/Lionsgate “Action six-pack” will serve as a platform for WWE Superstar wrestling personalities transitioning into acting while enlisting emerging filmmaking talent behind the camera. Read More »
Marlene King, creator and showrunner of the hit ABC Family teen series Pretty Little Liars, will adapt and executive produce The Merciless, a feature film based on the upcoming Danielle Vega horror novel about good girls gone evil. Lionsgate has acquired rights to the book ahead of its June 12 street date via Razorbill Books. Alloy Entertainment packaged and will produce the film, with Alloy president Les Morgenstein and Alloy Features VP Elysa Dutton serving as producers. The deal reteams King and Alloy, which serves as a producer on Pretty Little Liars. The book centers on a new girl at a small-town high school who is taken in by the popular clique, only to have them compel her into joining them in a dangerous exorcism of a punky, rebellious classmate.
“I’ve had a great time collaborating with Les Morgenstein and Alloy on Pretty Little Liars and have enjoyed the thrill of scaring millions of teenagers every week,” said King in a release announcing the acquisition. “I intend to be merciless with the script and hope our audience will need to sleep with their lights on after seeing the movie.”
Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-president Erik Feig is overseeing Merciless for the studio along with EVP Production & Development Gillian Bohrer and Director of Development Jina Jones. The deal was negotiated by Morgenstein on behalf of Alloy with Robert Melnik, Lionsgate’s EVP Business … Read More »
Lionsgate has taken North American rights to the last film starring River Phoenix. Existential Western Dark Blood was originally shot in 1993 but had lingered in a rights quagmire from which director and co-writer George Sluizer had been trying to extricate the pic. Apparently that has been done, and Lionsgate is planning a VOD release after it screened in 2013 at the Berlin Film Festival and has made the fest rounds since then. Cinemavault sold the pic at Cannes.
The film has a storied history. About 80% of it was shot before Phoenix died of a drug overdose outside the Viper Room in West Hollywood. At the time, the unfinished product reverted to the film’s insurance company before Sluizer recovered it and sequestered it away. In Berlin, he explained that in 1999 he learned the footage was going to be destroyed and within two days was able to save it and take it back to Holland. Sluizer said the material “laid in my care for many years waiting for something to happen with it. I was making other films at the time and it was safe.” But when he learned he had a life-threatening aneurism in 2007, he decided, “Before I die I want to put Dark Blood together as best I can.” For the scenes that were not completed at the time of Phoenix’s death, Sluizer provides his own voice-over. Read More »
Adam Smith’s directorial debut Trespass Against Us is picking up steam ahead of a scheduled summer production start, with Lionsgate picking up UK rights. Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Lyndsey Marshal and Rory Kinnear star in the pic scripted by Alistair Siddons. It is set across three generations of the rowdy Cutler family, who live as outlaws in the English countryside – hunting hares, ram-raiding stately homes and taunting the police. As the letter of the law finally catches up with Chad (Fassbender), he is torn between the archaic principles of his father (Gleeson) and what he believes is best for his children. Smith was tapped for the gig in November ahead of AFM. His credits include episodes of Doctor Who, Little Dorrit and Skins in the UK and the feature documentary The Chemical Brothers: Don’t Think — that duo will write and perform the original score for the movie, for which Protagonist Pictures is handling global presales at Cannes. Read More »
Lionsgate and Televisa joint venture Pantelion Films is expanding its global brand, tapping Anne-Marie Ross as President of International. Ross is a 13-year veteran of Lionsgate, most recently serving as EVP of Sales overseeing several key European territories, Australia and Japan. Pantelion’s new international division will kick off its slate here in Cannes with the Sean McNamara-directed George Lopez starrer La Vida Robot. Marisa Tomei and Jamie Lee Curtis also feature in the film that’s based on the true story of four undocumented Mexican-American high school students who compete against MIT in a national underwater robotics competition. In addition to overseeing international sales of Pantelion’s own titles, Ross will rep third-party films for international sales and licensing. She will also work closely with Pantelion’s development and production teams to build a globally-focused slate. Pantelion launched in 2010. Its credits include Instructions Not Included, the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the U.S., as well as Pulling Strings, Casa De Mi Padre and From Prada to Nada.
Oscar winner Octavia Spencer will play Johanna, the leader of the Amity faction, in the second installment of Lionsgate/Summit’s Divergent franchise. Insurgent, the second of four pics, will be released March 20, 2015. Shailene Woodley, Theo James and Kate Winslet return from the first movie, which has surpassed $250M in worldwide box office and is Lionsgate’s highest-grossing domestic release since The Hunger Games and Twilight series. Insurgent raises the stakes for Tris (Woodley) as she searches for allies and answers in the dystopian ruins of a futuristic Chicago while on the run with Four (James) and hunted by the leader of the power-hungry Erudite elite (Winslet). Spencer, repped by WME and Jackoway Tyerman, has upcoming the James Brown biopic Get On Up and Snowpiercer and stars in the Fox pilot Red Band Society that was just picked up to series.
Related: Lionsgate To Split Final ‘Divergent’ Sequel ‘Allegiant’ Into 2 Films
Hollywood’s hunger to match movies with proven brands knows no bounds. Lionsgate has announced it will team with Saban Brands to revive the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the first of what it hopes will be many live action feature films. The series was launched by Haim Saban more than 20 years ago, mixing footage with a group of young actors with climactic action footage culled from the Japanese television show Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger. The new film will cast a new group of high school kids who mix their studies and social lives with the mission to save the world. Now, the original was as cheesy a concept as you are going to find, but my kids were little when the show first played on the Fox Kids afternoon programming block, and we bought all the merchandise, paid $50 bucks or more a ticket to attend the live action show in Radio City Music Hall. None seemed to mind the mix of Japanese robot footage, and the series was cheap to produce and the performers disposable, which certainly keeps the budget low. If Lionsgate and Saban can recreate that momentum with the next kid audience, there is significant upside. I recall that the Rangers were waning by the time they mustered the first feature film, which cost $15 million and grossed about $64 million worldwide in 1995. Read More »
Lionsgate has entered a new and expanded multi-year output deal with longstanding partner Nordisk Film in Scandinavia. The agreement covers upcoming Lionsgate and Summit titles including the next two Hunger Games franchise installments; the next three films in the recently-launched Divergent franchise; sequel Now You See Me 2; crime thriller Child 44 and Alex Proyas’ Gods Of Egypt. “Lionsgate and Summit have enjoyed a tremendous relationship with Nordisk over the years, partnering on nearly 200 films, including the launch of the Twilight, Hunger Games and Divergent franchises,” say Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairs Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman. “We’re delighted to celebrate the renewal of our output deal with our strongest and most diverse slate ever, and we look forward to expanding our partnership with Nordisk on the production front as well.”
Picturehouse Entertainment will stream the BBC Radio 2 D-Day concert at The Royal Albert Hall live to UK cinemas on June 6. The concert is part of BBC Radio 2′s D-Day activity which culminates in the D-Day 70 Years On special at the Royal Albert. The live cinema broadcast is a means for elderly veterans and others who are unable to travel to London or France to mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. Hosts Jeremy Vine, Dermot O’Leary and Louise Minchin will re-tell the story of key moments of D-Day alongside a cast of actors led by Patrick Stewart as Winston Churchill. The show will go out through Cineworld, Picturehouse, Vue and independent cinemas across the UK and proceeds will be donated to charities including The Royal British Legion. Stewart says, “I am delighted and proud to be part of this anniversary commemoration. Churchill wrote English to be spoken and I have always loved quoting his remark that ‘The greatest virtue is courage, because it makes all the other virtues possible’.” Read More »
Connie Britton is the latest to join the cast of Lionsgate’s American Ultra, the action comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart that recently kicked off production. Eisenberg plays a seemingly hapless and unmotivated small-town stoner who is actually a highly trained, lethal sleeper agent in a government program. That program was created by Victoria Lasseter (Britton). Topher Grace, Tony Hale, John Leguizamo, Bill Pullman and Walton Goggins also star. Nima Nourizadeh is directing a script by Chronicle‘s Max Landis. The PalmStar/Likely Story/Circle of Confusion production is produced by Anthony Bregman, Kevin Frakes, Raj Brinder Singh, David Alpert and Britton Rizzio. Ray Angelic is executive producer. Britton, repped by WME and Untitled Entertainment, earned Emmy and Golden Globe noms for her role on ABC’s Nashville and an Emmy nom for American Horror Story. On the film side, she’s up next in This Is Where I Leave You opposite Jason Bateman, Tiny Fey and Adam Driver.
As part of its continued push into the digital and gaming space, Lionsgate has tapped Nerdist Industries’ Peter Levin as President of Interactive Ventures and Games. In his new role, Levin will be responsible for expanding Lionsgate’s content creation into video games and other interactive ventures, including incubation of new properties, investment in existing games and digital media vehicles and leveraging Lionsgate’s franchises and other branded properties into the gaming space.
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 Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife and an international terrorist as he travels the globe in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filed with Nazi gold. Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn, Oliver Platt, Aubrey Plaza, and Jeff Goldblum co-star. David Koepp directs from a script by Eric Aronson. Depp produces with Christi Dembrowski and Andrew Lazar. Gigi Pritzker exec produces. Mortdecai will open against Warner Bros’ action pic Run All Night and Universal’s Seventh Son.
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. Read More »
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.
Related: BOX OFFICE: ‘Divergent’ Opens At $54.6M
Splitting Roth’s final novel into two films isn’t a left field move for Lionsgate. Similar thinking first paid off for the company in a big way with Twilight Saga-ender Breaking Dawn. Read More »
Topher Grace has boarded Lionsgate‘s action comedy American Ultra, adding to a cast that already includes Jessie Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Uma Thurman and Walton Goggins. This is the pic Lionsgate scooped up just after Berlin with a $7M pre-buy for U.S. distribution rights, one of the richest deals to come out of the fest this year. Directed by Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) and a script by Chronicle scribe Max Landis, Ultra centers on Eisenberg’s character, a stoner whose small-town life with his live-in girlfriend (Stewart) is upended when his past catches up with him, putting him the crosshairs of a government operation bent on wiping him out. Grace will play a hotshot CIA agent who has recently taken on seniority that has gone to his head, and power-hungry he begin a mission to kill a secret government asset. Grace, repped by ICM Partners, Brillstein Entertainment and Ziffren Brittenham, recently wrapped production on Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and is shooting Home opposite Patricia Clarkson.