July 22, 2013

SHOWBUZZDAILY’s State of the Studio: Lionsgate/Summit


Last week we ran through all the major Hollywood studios–Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Universal–to see how their summers have been going.  Today we’ll take a look at Lionsgate, which is generally considered a “mini-major,” a studio that doesn’t release films with the volume or budget of the majors, but routinely launches its movies into wide national release.  Since its acquisition of Summit, though, Lionsgate has barely been “mini,” and it has two of the biggest movies of the fall coming up later this year.

Lionsgate/Summit has had a more than respectable summer with its 3 releases, one a solid hit, one a more modest success and the other looking dicey.  It’s a record Sony would have been happy to own this year.




Estimated Cost (Including Worldwide Marketing):  $175M

US Box Office Thru 7/21:  $114M

Overseas Box Office Thru 7/21:  $86M

Box Office Total Thru 7/21:  $200,000,000

Exactly the kind of counterprogramming that a smart mini-major can exploit to its advantage.  Now You See Me, with a relatively modest budget and a cast headed by Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo, has never been any #1 on any weekend it’s played (it was beaten by the 2nd weekend of Fast & Furious 6 when it opened), but it’s generated strong word of mouth by standing apart from all the more mindless action movies of the season (and, of course, by being quite entertaining).  The result is a nice-sized success, with many foreign markets still to open, and one that could easily spawn a sequel.


Estimated Cost (inc US Marketing):  $20M

US Box Office Thru 7/21:  $30M

Overseas Box Office Thru 7/21:  n/a

Box Office Total Thru 7/21:  $30,000,000

A niche play that worked out just fine.  The Kevin Hart concert movie may never even play overseas, but it was shot on a tiny budget and given targeted marketing (Lionsgate is, of course, the studio of Tyler Perry, so it knows something about the African-American audience), and has done very well, with strong homevideo and cable sales likely in its future.


Estimated Cost (inc Worldwide Marketing):  $185M

US Box Office Thru 7/21:  $18M

Overseas Box Office Thru 7/21:  $8M

Box Office Total Thru 7/21:  $26,000,000

The release of RED 2 has just started, so it’s premature to write it off just yet, but indications aren’t as promising as the studio would have liked.  The sequel’s US opening was down almost 20% from the start of the original RED, and foreign receipts, while fragmentary, aren’t demonstrating huge interest.  Although the movie’s reasonable cost should keep it from being any kind of disaster, Lionsgate’s hopes for an ongoing franchise may not be realized.  The first RED wasn’t a blockbuster itself (not quite $200M worldwide), so this was a marginal bet to begin with, and one that should be fairly easy to shrug off.

SUMMER TO COMEYOU’RE NEXT (8/23) is a low-budget horror movie that will be looking to pick up some late summer crumbs.



Sylvester Stallone/Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle that will probably be making a brief stop in theaters on its way to VOD and homevideo.


The studio is doing everything in its power to quash the controversy over novelist Orson Scott Card’s anti-gay views.  Assuming that’s old news by November, this will be one of the major pre-holiday contenders, a big-budget adaptation of Card’s YA-in-space bestseller that includes Harrison Ford, Viola Davis and Ben Kingsley in the supporting cast.


What is there to say?  There’s no “mini” about this franchise, the surest thing this side of the next Avengers movie.  The already-giant profit engine ($691M worldwide last time) should only be getting bigger, with international due to shoot up from its mere 41% of the first installment’s total.  And now it stars “Academy-Award winner” Jennifer Lawrence to boot.


Tyler Perry’s fans are about as loyal as they come, especially when the word “Madea” is in the title.

NOTE: Two other legitimate mini-majors sat out the summer, but will be back for fall.  FilmDistrict has INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 2 (9/13), the sequel to its hit horror thriller, and then Spike Lee’s remake of the ultra-violent cult classic OLDBOY (10/25).  Open Road will actually make a token summer appearance with jobs (8/16), starring the unlikely Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs, and then close out the year with two action vehicles:  MACHETE KILLS (10/4) and HOMEFRONT (11/27), the latter featuring the truly weird starring trio of Jason Statham, James Franco and Winona Ryder.




About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."