It would appear that Wall Street is responding well to the first photo of Divergent posted to the net earlier today (and partially posted above for your convenience.) Lionsgate stock shot up to a new high today of $25 a share (before retreating a tad,) continuing the company’s surge from minor-to-major studio player. With The Hunger Games already factored in, that leaves new properties like Ender’s Game and Divergent to lead the charge and since the latter is a bit more sequel friendly, that is what is driving today’s news.
For those unfamiliar with Divergent, it is a YA novel and the start of a trilogy from author Veronica Roth set against the backdrop of a futuristic dystopia. The whole premise is set up around a character named Tris who refuses to be shackled by societies faction-based parameters, and ventures out from her own group of similar-traited individuals.
The lead character will be played by Shailene Woodley who is best known for her character on ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager. She broke out two Decembers ago with the Oscar-nominated release The Descendants and soon after landed the lead in the Divergent series to go with a highly sought out part in the rebooted Spider-Man saga, the role of Mary Jane Watson. In other words, she is a pretty big deal.
Neil Burger is directing Divergent with supporting roles being filled out by Kate Winslet, Jai Courtney, and Ashley Judd. Release is slated for March 21, 2014.
TV Guide Network (TVGN) is about to undergo another monumental programming shift as the network half-owned by Lionsgate is now equally-owned by CBS. First announced last week, the deal went through today, giving CBS 50% ownership in TVGN and a basic cable footprint. Not much has been revealed just yet, but apparently a rebranding is set to come later with the same entertainment-driven content although the network’s strategy is expected to change. Both company’s shares traded higher today on this mutually beneficial partnership. Continue Reading
The start of production has just begun for the sequel to Lionsgate’s biggest movie of all-time, The Hunger Games. With the cast finally set and release a mere 14 months away, director Francis Lawrence has officially set out to attempt to hold a candle next to Gary Ross’ critically-acclaimed hit that landed in theaters back in March. A box office performance of $400 million plus at the domestic level will certainly be tough to pass, but it certainly helps that the cast will be returning to film this effort in Atlanta, Georgia and various locations in Hawaii. An end date for principal photography has been ball parked for December meaning filming will take about three months’ time. Continue Reading
We all knew that the sales figures for The Hunger Games were going to be impressive, but it is nice to have validation. Lionsgate is announcing today that the book-to-film conversion that grossed over $400 million at the box office is replicating its success at retailers. With DVD outselling Blu-Ray 2:1, The Hunger Games has sold 3.8 million units in its first week of release. The number is definitely impressive and while front loaded, one could assume that a race will be on for the physical media charts of 2012 when The Avengers releases next month.
Here is the full address from the company which goes as far as to even tout a Zune record (as if anyone really cares about that anymore.) They also remind fans that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is due out next year with follow-ups in 2014 and 2015 as well. Continue Reading
There is a brand new poster out for Lionsgate’s Dredd reboot that is worth a quick view. Just to recap, the film is not anything major as it is set for a September release which should give it away, but this is the start of a potential low-budget trilogy. The project’s writer Alex Garland went on the record saying last month that the movie needed to gross $50 million domestically in order to warrant a sequel for the Karl Urban-starrer.
In terms of setting, this is very much your classic R-rated Judge Dredd. The backdrop is a fictional earth where police are now called judges and brutality is in their nature. This Pete Travis-directed film casts Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey in supporting roles with the former playing a partner-like cadet named Judge Anderson. Headey is the villainous lead Ma-Ma who is responsible for selling a reality-altering drug called Slo-Mo. Continue Reading
Lionsgate has been casting up a storm for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire ahead of production which is set to begin this fall. Recent months have seen the Francis Lawrence-directed film add Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch and Jena Malone as Johanna Mason, but today sees news that the studio has confirmed the addition of Lynn Cohen as Finnick mentor Mags. Continue Reading
Just the other day we got our first look at the Blu-Ray information for The Avengers, so it seems only fitting that the official announcement would come for The Hunger Games’ physical media debut. Continue Reading
The Hunger Games may have done a heck of a lot better in domestic markets as opposed to the international variety, but with a movie like this Lionsgate would certainly love to see their studio’s biggest feature to date get an all encompassing global release. That would include China who has actually been holding out; however, just the other day the story changed as it was announced that the Jennifer Lawrence-lead blockbuster would indeed bow in China. Read on for the full press release. Continue Reading
One of the hottest directors in Hollywood right now has to be Gary Ross as he is coming off of helming Lionsgate’s crazy successful adaptation of The Hunger Games. The film has already racked up over $600 million at the global box office, yet the Seabiscuit director will not be working on its successor. That job instead is going to I Am Legend director Francis Lawrence who has no concerns about rushing production in order to accommodate Fox’s claim on franchise star Jennifer Lawrence.
With that being said, the director’s proverbial dance card is now free, and Summit reportedly has targeted him to make a film called Houdini. While this has not yet been made official, this would put the director right at the beginning of yet another prospective franchise for essentially the same company.
Make no mistake about it; this feature is not some Harry Houdini, low-budget bio-pic. Sure, it may be based on a biography from William Kalush and Larry Sloman, but Summit apparently has their hearts set on making this into an action-thriller that is best described as a cross between Indiana Jones and Sherlock Holmes.
It is in this lens that we are beginning to see the continued evolution of Lionsgate as a company hell bent on creating blockbuster tentpoles to complement their contingent of horror and Tyler Perry movies. With the imminent finale of The Twilight Saga, the clock may be running out on the studio’s ability to make this happen which is why many should be glad with Summit’s selection of just who is behind the camera for their next attempt at a book-spawned franchise.
Today, Lionsgate announced what we already knew–Francis Lawrence will be taking over for Gary Ross as director of the sequel to The Hunger Games. The movie is called Catching Fire, and fans of the series can expect to see it land in theaters on November 22. Read on for the studio press release. Continue Reading
Lionsgate has just picked up the rights to a memoir by gossip columnist Jeanette Walls called The Glass Castle. The best-seller’s conversion to the big screen in itself would be news, but it looks like the studio found a pretty high profile actress to carry the torch for this one which is why it is the recipient of some added attention. They are in talks right now with The Hunger Games starlet Jennifer Lawrence.
The Glass Castle will be yet another dramatic effort for the actress as the story takes on Walls’ poverty stricken upbringing with her siblings and dysfunctional parents. This is somewhat reminiscent of Winter’s Bone to a degree, so perhaps the actress will be channeling her character from the film that helped launch her career.
Should negotiations go well, this will completely fill up the actress’ proverbial dance card which includes Catching Fire and a sequel to X-Men: First Class. Both of those features will be shooting back-to-back starting this fall, so perhaps the actress has some down time to fill in the summer following production of Serena which is currently in the process of filming.
As for why fans of Lawrence should be thrilled for her addition to the project, Marti Noxon is on board to adapt the memoir for the big screen. The writer previously wrote screenplays for Fright Night and I Am Number Four in addition to her work in television on such shows as Mad Men, Glee, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Add in Blind Side producer Gil Netter and The Glass Castle looks to have a pretty solid crew.
Update 4/19 @ 9 PM, ET: Francis Lawrence has been selected as the director of Catching Fire. His credits include I Am Legend, Constantine, and Water for Elephants, and before that he directed music videos for some big name pop stars. Sounds like a good choice, but it apparently was not Lionsgate’s first. The studio would have preferred Bennett Miller, but he wanted the start date to be pushed back a tad which would enable him to complete Foxcatcher. It is interesting things got this far with Miller because if they were flexible, they would have stayed with Gary Ross.
Original: Stay tuned for an announcement relatively soon considering the director of Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games franchise moving forward. The field has been reportedly narrowed down to two candidates, and the studio is expected to make an announcement before the end of the week as to which one will take charge of Catching Fire.
Bennett Miller and Francis Lawrence are apparently the options. The former of which is a much sexier choice from a critical standpoint considering his work on Moneyball and Capote, but many are quick to point out that it would mean putting Foxcatcher on hold as Catching Fire is set to shoot in the fall and a script is yet to exist. As for Francis Lawrence, he directed both I Am Legend and Water for Elephants although it is strongly suspected that his I Am Legend credit will be the one responsible for his landing of the gig should Lionsgate choose him.
Read: Mark Ruffalo to Join Steve Carell and Channing Tatum in “Foxcatcher”
For those not in the know, the studio lost its franchise director Gary Ross just weeks ago as they refused to budge on the November 2013 release date in order to accommodate his desire for more production time. It was not that things are starting in the fall that killed negotiations. It was rather the fact that Fox has dibs on Jennifer Lawrence, and they were set to claim her for the X-Men: First Class sequel that starts production in January which will squeeze Catching Fire’s production time.
The Cabin in the Woods hit theaters earlier this weekend to rave reviews. The Drew Goddard-directed feature had a lot more early buzz than the typical Lionsgate offering in the genre thanks in part to Joss Whedon’s involvement on the production side, so this is not exactly an unexpected response from critics. Let’s take a look at what is being said about the horror feature.
First and foremost, this is being dubbed as a brilliant horror/sci-fi mix which many will attribute to a script co-written by The Avengers director (Whedon.) The combination of the two genres leads some to make a bold stand in saying that The Cabin in the Woods is a once-in-a-decade innovative effort.
Negative reviews are few and far between, but the few that exist seem centered around gripes about the movie’s fanboy appeal. Some go as far as to call the movie flat out nerdy. Ultimately, this is translating into more favorable audience reviews from the male demographic.
So there you have it. The Cabin in the Woods is a genre transcending effort that currently rocks a 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Go see it if you love sci-fi, horror, and Whedon.
There is some major breaking news tonight out of Hollywood. The Hunger Games director Gary Ross has opted not to direct the film’s follow-up Catching Fire. This has been the subject of much speculation of the past few weeks as insiders said early on Ross was not interested enough in the sequel’s material to give it another go. The confirmation comes in the form of a statement from the director himself:
Despite recent speculation in the media, and after difficult but sincere consideration, I have decided not to direct Catching Fire. As a writer and a director, I simply don’t have the time I need to write and prep the movie I would have wanted to make because of the fixed and tight production schedule.
I loved making The Hunger Games – it was the happiest experience of my professional life. Lionsgate was supportive of me in a manner that few directors ever experience in a franchise: they empowered me to make the film I wanted to make and backed the movie in a way that requires no explanation beyond the remarkable results. And contrary to what has been reported, negotiations with Lionsgate have not been problematic. They have also been very understanding of me through this difficult decision.
I also cannot say enough about the people I worked with: Producer Nina Jacobson, a great collaborator and a true friend; the brilliant Suzanne Collins, who entrusted us with her most amazing and important story; the gifted and remarkable Jennifer Lawrence whose performance exceeded my wildest expectations, and the rest of the incredible cast, whom I am proud to call my friends.
To the fans I want to say thank you for your support your faith, your enthusiasm and your trust. Hard as this may be to understand I am trying to keep that trust with you. Thank you all. It’s been a wonderful experience.
Lionsgate also issued a statement:
We’re very sorry that Gary Ross has chosen not to direct Catching Fire. We were really looking forward to making the movie with him. He did an incredible job on the first film and we are grateful for his work. This will not be the end of our relationship, as we consider Ross to be part of the Lionsgate family and look forward to working with him in the future.
The Hunger Games’ total box office gross now stands at $464 million worldwide for $307 million of that coming from the domestic level.
Despite the internet hubbub last week about Gary Ross quitting The Hunger Games’ franchise, talks are set to restart later today between the director and studio to try to prevent such an exit from happening. These negotiations are all about money as both sides clearly want Catching Fire to be a Gary Ross-directed feature. The first installment of the series opened to the type of critical and audience acclaim that studios can only dream of while Ross is grabbing 5% of one of the biggest back-ends in Hollywood’s history. It is clearly in their interests to resolve this conflict and the sooner the better.
Why? In order to shoot the sequel to The Hunger Games this year, they need to start shooting in the fall. The series’ star Jennifer Lawrence has an overriding option through Fox to do any X-Men: First Class sequels, and since that studio has recently attached a January shoot date to the movie, it would make Catching Fire very hard to produce in time for its November 2013 release date.
The expectations are that this will indeed be resolved, and that shooting will in fact start in the fall for the sequel. There is just too much money here to let this franchise fall apart at the seams. With it looking as if Lionsgate has the most to lose from a falling out, expect a big pay increase headed Gary Ross’ way.