Lionsgate Theatrical Thriller ‘Run’ Heading to Hulu

Lionsgate is re-directing another erstwhile theatrical release to digital — this time to Disney-owned SVOD Hulu, rather than transactional VOD. The streamer has not announced a release date for the movie, which will still have limited theatrical distribution internationally.

Horror-thriller Run stars Sarah Paulson as an overprotective mother to a wheelchair bound daughter (Kiera Allen) raised in total isolation. The movie was originally slated to hit movie screens over the Mother Day weekend in May — a release strategy upended by the coronavirus pandemic shuttering all theaters.

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“We’re super excited audiences will get to stream Run on Hulu, a platform that’s really committed to giving the movie the same, big splash that was always intended for it,” Aneesh Chaganty, director of the movie, said in a statement. “Plus, the film is about a girl who’s been quarantined at home her whole life; watching it the same way should be a fitting experience in 2020.”

Chaganty, a University of Southern California graduate, cut his directorial teeth with indie film Searching in 2018, for which he won the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

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Lionsgate Greenlights New ‘Dirty Dancing’ Movie, Starring/Executive Produced by Jennifer Grey

Jennifer Grey

Lionsgate is planning a reboot of the 1987 box office hit Dirty Dancing that will star the original’s Jennifer Grey, who is also executive producing. The movie will be directed by Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies, 50/50).

Speaking on the company’s Aug. 6 fiscal call, CEO Jon Feltheimer announced the remake along with plans for back-to-back productions of John Wick 4 and 5, starring Keanu Reeves.

“[Dirty Dancing] will be exactly the kind of romantic, nostalgic movie that the franchise’s fans have been waiting for,” Feltheimer said, adding Dirty Dancing is the best-selling library title across all distribution channels, including home entertainment, in Lionsgate’s history.

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The movie catapulted Grey to stardom playing a shy teenager who befriends a bad boy dance instructor (played the late Patrick Swayze) while with her family in the Catskills Mountains in upstate N.Y.

The movie grossed $214 million at the global box office, including $63.8 million domestically. A loose prequel, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, was released in 2004, grossing $14 million at the box office. ABC aired a musical remake in 2017.

Lionsgate Explodes Q1 Home Entertainment Revenue 45%

Lionsgate’s unsung workhorse, home entertainment, may not get many shoutouts by company officials on fiscal calls, but the business segment continues to positively impact the bottom line during the coronavirus pandemic.

Aug. 6 Lionsgate announced that home entertainment generated $167.2 million in first-quarter (ended June 30) packaged-media and digital sales of movies, which was up 20% from revenue of $139.7 million during the previous-year period. Sales of TV content skyrocketed 538% to $46.6 million, from $7.3 million a year ago. Overall, home entertainment revenue increased 45% to $213.8 million, from $147 million during the previous-year period.

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“The increase in feature film home entertainment revenue was primarily due to digital media revenue from our fiscal 2020 theatrical slate, and in particular, I Still Believe and Knives Out,” Lionsgate said on its 10Q filing.

Home entertainment helped the studio generate operating income of $101 million in the first quarter — rivaling Lionsgate’s combined media networks ($71.8 million) and television production ($34.9 million) segments.

Lionsgate bounced back on the bottom line as well, generating $46.2 million net income compared with a net loss of $58.4 million in the previous-year period. Revenue dropped 15.6% to $813.7 million, from $963.6 million a year ago — due primarily to theater and TV production shutdowns.

“During the quarter we took steps to monetize our film and television library [via home entertainment], embraced innovative distribution strategies for our films, and acquired new properties while renewing others,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said in a statement.

Lionsgate’s ‘Antebellum’ Bowing on PVOD Sept. 18

On the same day that it reported a healthy 20% spike in quarterly home entertainment revenue, Lionsgate on Aug. 6 announced that the time-shifting horror drama Antebellum will debut in homes on premium VOD at $20 on Sept. 18, rather than in theaters. Starring Janelle Monáe, who plays a successful modern-day writer trapped during America’s slavery era, Antebellum will have a same-day theatrical release internationally.

“While the theatrical experience will always be the heart of our business, we are thrilled that we are able to seize the opportunity to match [directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz’s] urgent and immediate film with a release strategy befitting this moment of extraordinary change,” Joe Drake, chairman of the Lionsgate motion picture group, said in a statement.

Previous Lionsgate PVOD releases include The Secret: Dare to Dream on July 31 and I Still Believe on March 27.

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Drake said Lionsgate still values the traditional theatrical window, but with ongoing challenges toward fully re-opening theaters, the company has to seek alternative distribution channels.

“I would love to see every one of our movies released theatrically,” Drake said, adding that Antebellum “speaks strongly to our times,” which he said factored in the decision to forgo theatrical distribution for PVOD.

He said the “extrodinary demand for content and short supply,” makes the economics of PVOD look “really strong.” Drake said the channel allows Lionsgate to “speak to the consumer directly.” At the same time, he said the company would aggressively exploit theatrical distribution when that channel re-opens.

“[PVOD] is a really good [business] model for us,” he said. “But so is theatrical.”

Virus Reckoning: Four Studios to Report Fiscal Earnings This Week

NEWS ANALYSIS — Bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic on its business operations, major studios Disney, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and Sony Pictures face the fiscal music this week, reporting quarterly results, beginning with Sony before the market opens Aug. 4.

Most attention will be directed at Disney, which reports results after the market closes Aug. 4. With nearly every aspect of its business under siege during the pandemic, expect CEO Bob Chapek to focus on the positive: Disney+, which launched service in Asia (i.e. Japan) during the reporting third quarter, undoubtedly adding to the 54.5 million subscribers the platform reported at the beginning of May.

It’s an Ace card Chapek can use to counter Netflix’s July fiscal gem, generating almost 11 million new subscribers globally to surpass 190 million.

Disney moved intended theatrical release Artemis Fowl to its subscription streaming video platform during the quarter, while Pixar’s Onward joined the service after movie theaters shut down due to the pandemic.

Disney studio, pay-TV (ESPN) and theme park business segments will have little positive to report except maybe reduced operating costs — underscoring the company’s tens of thousands of furloughed workers. Disney re-opened parks in Paris, Florida, Shanghai and Hong Kong and then closed Hong Kong again temporarily following spikes in COVID-19 infections.

But Disney did score a coup of sorts when it contracted with the NBA to host the league’s pandemic-shortened season, including hosting players, coaches and staff at its facilities in Orlando, Fla.

“Many of Disney’s operations require bringing people together in large groups,” The Motley Fool’s Parkev Tatevosian wrote in a note. “The company won’t get back to running on all cylinders until there is a vaccine or treatment breakthrough for the coronavirus.”

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ViacomCBS has busied itself expanding the portfolio and distribution reach for ad-supported VOD service Pluto TV, in addition to online-based Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV) to consumers spending increasingly more time with over-the-top video.

The company inked a deal with NBCUniversal’s upstart Peacock streaming service for NBCUniversal’s Peacock for library movie and TV show content, including  The Godfather Trilogy, “Ray Donovan,” “Undercover Boss,” and “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” among others.

“We believe COVID-19 is a catalyst for ViacomCBS to push through … significant hidden value in Paramount’s library and in ViacomCBS streaming services,” Laura Martin, analyst with Needham & Co., wrote in a July 31 note. “Film and TV libraries are becoming more valuable over time. With 140,000 TV episodes plus 3,600 films in the ViacomCBS library, this suggests valuable optionality to maximize economics through either developing or licensing its intellectual property to others.”

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With its theatrical business sidelined, Sony Pictures Entertainment in May announced an expansion of its “Imax Enhanced” releases, including catalog titles, as well as theatrical releases for home entertainment across the Europe, North America and Asia Pacific regions.

Imax markets a branded in-home “Imax private theatre” package that offers consumers the required technology, screen and audio to screen Blu-ray releases, including 4K UHD, in the home.

“SPE’s investment in the Imax Enhanced program ensures that we will continue to deliver even more of our films to audiences who now expect to experience movies at the highest technical quality — even in their own homes,” Pete Wood, SVP of new digital distribution at Sony Pictures, said in May.

In its previous fiscal result, Lionsgate attributed a $50 million loss due to COVID-19. The home entertainment distributor added more than 10 million Starz SVOD subscribers. Look for Lionsgate to up focus on home entertainment, which generated record $600 million in catalog revenue for the fiscal year ended March 31.

The distributor sold about $257 million in packaged-media product, down about $500,000 from 2019. Disc sales of major feature movies increased nearly 43% to $154.8 million from $108.4 million in the previous-year period.

The Secret: Dare to Dream

DIGITAL REVIEW:

Available 7/31/20;
Lionsgate;
Drama;
$19.99 VOD;
Rated ‘PG’ for language and an injury image.
Stars Katie Holmes, Josh Lucas, Celia Weston, Jerry O’Connell, Sarah Hoffmeister, Aidan Pierce Brennan, Chloe Lee.

A timely feel-good movie for these uncertain times, director Andy Tennant’s romantic take on the self-actualization best-seller by Rhonda Byrne, The Secret: Dare to Dream stars Katie Holmes as a widowed single mother who is burdened by debt and lives in a crumbling house with her three young kids. Enter Josh Lucas’ enigmatic character, Bray, who literally collides with Holmes’ Miranda and proceeds to fix her car bumper and her roof, rousing a modicum of suspicion and jealousy from her fiancé, Tucker (Jerry O’Connell).

Bray also offers sage words of advice to Miranda and her children, which prompts one of them to ask, “Are you sure you’re not from California?” Miranda, skeptical at first, later concedes to his positive thinking philosophy when she says to him: “I think we collided for a reason.”

Byrne’s book and documentary The Secret delves into the new age belief in the Laws of Attraction: That is, think positively, and positive things will come to you.

As Byrne says: “Joy attracts more joy. Happiness attracts more happiness. Peace attracts more peace. Gratitude attracts more gratitude. Kindness attracts more kindness. Love attracts more love.  Your job is an inside one. To change your world, all you have to do is change the way you feel inside.  How easy is that?”

The movie expands this concept into a story of family, of hope and the notion that if you wish hard enough, you may just get the proverbial pony you’ve always wanted.

Lionsgate Cuts Deal With BuzzFeed for Millennial, Gen Z Films

Lionsgate and indie digital media company BuzzFeed on July 28 announced a new partnership to develop, produce and distribute a multi-picture slate of “socially relevant and high-concept feature films for global millennial and Gen Z audiences,” according to a press release.

As part of the partnership, Lionsgate will greenlight full-length feature films to be produced with BuzzFeed, each with unique, primarily digital, distribution strategies.

Lionsgate says the partnership will tap into a wide range of talent, from award-winning filmmakers to new voices. With a number of films in development, Lionsgate and BuzzFeed will focus on films based on original BuzzFeed IP as well as projects designed to tap into BuzzFeed’s communities.

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“We are thrilled to collaborate with BuzzFeed to expand our digital footprint with a slate of original films that speak to their highly engaged audience,” said Lauren Bixby, Lionsgate’s VP of acquisitions and co-productions. “With our innovative marketing strategy and agile distribution teams, combined with BuzzFeed’s impressive and extensive global reach, the partnership will allow two entrepreneurial companies to work together to develop some great IP.”

“This exciting partnership with Lionsgate marks a new chapter for BuzzFeed and our studio endeavors,” said Richard Alan Reid, SVP of global content and film at BuzzFeed. “We are expanding our strategy to include long-form content, with a slate that celebrates identity, diversity and youth culture, and concepts that highlight themes and characters not typically at the center of pop movies.”

According to the press release, research shows that 73% of the BuzzFeed audience make TV and film choices based on BuzzFeed’s content recommendations. The motion picture development process will be informed by data and insights generated by feedback from BuzzFeed’s audience. “Lionsgate’s day-and-date release model and flexible distribution capabilities provide the joint effort invaluable market experience in presenting  groundbreaking films that will appeal to young adult audiences around the world,” the press release stated.

Jason Moring and Michael Philip of production company CR8IV DNA will act as consultants.

Lionsgate and BuzzFeed plan to launch their first co-production in 2021.

Lionsgate Releasing ‘First Cow’ Sept. 8

Lionsgate will release the drama First Cow on Blu-ray Disc, DVD and through digital retailers Sept. 8.

The film involves two travelers on the run from a band of vengeful hunters in the 1820s Northwest. They dream of striking it rich, but their tenuous plan to make their fortune on the frontier comes to rely on the secret use of a wealthy businessman’s prized dairy cow.

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The cast includes John Magaro, Orion Lee, Toby Jones, Ewen Bremner, René Auberjonois and Alia Shawkat.

The home video presentation will include the featurette “A Place in This World.”

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Best-Selling Book Inspires Hope-Filled ‘The Secret: Dare to Dream’

The power of positive thinking fueled Rhonda Byrne’s best-selling book and documentary The Secret, released in 2006.

More than a decade later, her philosophy of hope continues to inspire in the romantic drama The Secret: Dare to Dream.

Lionsgate will release the film on premium VOD July 31 as a 48-hour rental at $19.99. Before the PVOD shift due to the pandemic, sister company Roadside Attractions had planned an initial theatrical release April 17 on 1,000-plus screens.

The Secret: Dare to Dream stars Katie Holmes (All We Had, Logan Lucky, The Gift) and Josh Lu-cas (Sweet Home Alabama, What They Had, “Yellowstone”) with Jerry O’Connell (“Billions,” Stand by Me) and Celia Weston (Knight and Day, The Intern). It is directed by Andy Tennant (Hitch, Sweet Home Alabama).

“The idea behind making a Hollywood movie of The Secret was to reach a much greater audience around the world, so that many more people will realize the power they have to create the life they want, from this very moment,” says Byrne.

The story centers on Miranda (Holmes), a young widow trying to make ends meet while raising her three children and dating her boyfriend (O’Connell). A devastating storm brings an enormous challenge and a mysterious man, Bray (Lucas), into Miranda’s life. Bray reignites the family’s spirit but, unbeknownst to Miranda, also holds an important secret — one that will change everything. Woven throughout the story are a series of seeming coincidences. The characters — primarily through the pessimistic Miranda and the relentlessly optimistic Bray — contemplate the nature of chance.

“What are the odds?” notes Miranda’s son about their meeting with Bray.

“My whole life is like that gut feeling that something bad is going to happen — and then it does,” Miranda says at one point.

Meanwhile, Bray sees good portent in events.

“I’m open to the possibility that whatever happens — even the bad stuff  — can lead to positive things,” he tells Miranda’s family.

“Miranda, played by Katie Holmes in our film, has been facing significant challenges brought about by very difficult circumstances,” says producer Robert Katz (Crash). “Although she worked very hard at her job, managing her limited fi nances, raising her children as a single mom and navigating a relationship, Miranda expected and believed that these circumstances would not change. They would not get better. Her life was hard and she was doing her best to face them every day. She was in survival mode — something many of us are familiar with, especially these days. When an unexpected visitor enters her life, Miranda slowly begins to believe that she has the power to change her thoughts, and with them, her expectations and her life.”

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Shot through the feel-good film is the inspirational message in Byrne’s The Secret.

“The movie demonstrates how easy it is to change our life through changing our thinking,” Byrne says. “We can have life circumstances coming down hard on us, as is demonstrated in the movie, and yet by simply thinking more positively and being grateful we can change every aspect of our life.”

Byrne discovered the idea for The Secret in 2004, after a string of personal obstacles and the death of her father. Her daughter gave her a copy of Wallace D. Wattles’ self-help book The Science of Getting Rich, and she used what she learned to write and produce The Secret. A documentary was released in March 2006 with the book debuting in November 2006, published by Simon & Schuster. In each, Byrne interviews business leaders and entrepreneurs who reveal real-life stories of how they have changed their lives in profound ways. Th e documentary and book focus on the power of positive thinking and the “Law of Attraction,” which says that people can manifest their thoughts into reality — that “thoughts become things.”

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The Secret book has sold more than 34 million copies worldwide, has been translated into 50 languages and appeared on The New York Times best-seller list for 190 weeks — and it con-tinues to attract fans. More than 7 million copies of the book have been shipped in the United States since 2006.

The film’s marketing campaign leverages the publishing phenomenon. A movie tie-in edition of the book released earlier this year features the film’s key art on a belly band. Simon & Schuster has already posted a trailer for the movie, with a book shot, on the Amazon detail page of The Secret.

Meanwhile, the documentary film The Secret has been a success on disc as well.

In extending the brand of the book and documentary, Byrne says her ultimate aim is that The Secret: Dare to Dream will be another vehicle to spread her message.

“I truly hope that people will realize from this movie that they are not at the mercy of life’s circumstances, but that they have an untapped power to change every aspect of their life — health, money, relationships, happiness, success — into what they want,” Byrne says.

Katz adds that he wants viewers to take away the film’s message “that things can change for the better and belief that the power (and tools) to make the most meaningful changes in our lives and the lives of others lies within us all.”

Lionsgate to Bow ‘The Secret: Dare to Dream’ on PVOD July 31

The Secret: Dare to Dream, based on the 2006 best-selling book The Secret, will be released on premium VOD July 31 by Lionsgate.

The film, originally slated for an April 17 theatrical release, will be available to rent at $19.99 for 48 hours.

Starring Katie Holmes, Josh Lucas, Jerry O’Connell and Celia Weston and directed by Andy Tennant, The Secret: Dare to Dream follows Miranda (Holmes), a young widow trying to make ends meet while raising her three children and dating her boyfriend (O’Connell). A devastating storm brings an enormous challenge and a mysterious man, Bray (Lucas), into Miranda’s life. Bray reignites the family’s spirit but, unbeknownst to Miranda, also holds an important secret — one that will change everything.

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The 2006 book by Rhonda Byrne, a global phenomenon that empowered millions to lead happier and more fulfilled lives, has sold more than 34 million copies worldwide, has been translated into 50 languages and appeared on The New York Times bestseller list for 190 weeks.