Friday, September 5, 2008

The Lionsgate Blitz Attack

I'll be doing a pieces on this in the coming weeks, but this is week two in Lionsgate's end of 2008 blitz. Eight major films released nine weeks in a row, followed by four more by year's end. Disaster Movie tanked last weekend, and the next five weeks will bring us Bangkok Dangerous (opens today), Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys, My Best Friend's Girl, The Lucky Ones, and Religulous. Then a one weekend break on October 10th, then a double-whammy of W and Saw V. Then, following a one week break, we'll have Repo The Genetic Opera on November 7th. Then Lionsgate steals a Fox franchise over Thanksgiving weekend with The Transporter 3. Finally, December ends with Punisher: War Zone on December 5th and The Spirit on December 25th. That's a shocking and unprecedented twelve releases in just under three months.

This is of course Lionsgate's opening bid to become a real grownup studio. Obviously, if most of these movies tank, they will be in serious trouble. For what it's worth, at least half of these will likely break even or make a profit, regardless of their quality.

The Family That Preys will likely do the usual 20/50 that all Perry movies average ($20 million opening, $50 million total). Punisher and The Spirit will get the geek dollars, although maybe not much more. Saw V will do about as well as the franchise usually does (although even if it suffers franchise fatigue and does under $50 million, it probably cost less than $20 million to make). W. has a high curiosity factor; I mean who doesn't want to see Richard Dreyfuss play Dick Cheney in an Oliver Stone George W Bush biopic? And, while it will obviously be a partisan movie, it's low $30 million budget means it doesn't have to break out to do ok.

My Best Friend's Girl should do about as well as Good Luck Chuck, although Kate Hudson is a bigger draw than either Jessica Alba or Dane Cook. The Transporter 3 will do a little more than Crank/War business, as it's a sequel to a popular franchise, so as long as it didn't cost a fortune it will be ok. And Religious probably won't even go wide, so that will sit on the video shelf alongside Fahrenheit 911, The US Vs. John Lennon, and Deliver Us From Evil in the realm of lefty populist documentaries.

The real question marks are Disaster Movie (too late, already tanked, but will it recoup on DVD?), Bangkok Dangerous, Repo: The Genetic Opera, and The Lucky Ones. The Lucky Ones is a low budget drama about three returning Iraq war vets (played by Tim Robbins, Rachel McAdams, and Michael Pena). I doubt we'll see blockbuster status from that one, but it only cost $15 million.

As for Repo, this is easily the oddest and most curious project on the slate. I don't know how wide it's going, but it may be worth tracking down. It's a musical that stars Paris Hilton, Paul Sorvino, and several other actors who are usually pretty picky: Alexa Vega, Anthony Head, and Sarah Brightman. Yep, Lionsgate was too snobby for Midnight Meat Train, but not a Paris Hilton musical, directed by the man who directed the last three Saw films, that aspires to be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show. This is indeed the alleged passion project of Darren Lynn Bousman. I will say that any musical that bothers to cast the definitive Broadway Christine from Phantom Of The Opera and Anthony Head has peaked my interest.

Quite an ambitious slate, one that truly rivals the majors for speed and diversity. As the weekends unfold, I'll update on the progress (and alleged quality) of this opening salvo.

Scott Mendelson

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