Lionsgate

Power Rangers

Here’s a hypothetical for you: you’re a powerful magician from outer space who’s locked in a battle of wills with diabolical powers who want to destroy earth and its friendly human inhabitants. You’d want teenagers to help you fight, right? And not just any teenagers, but teenagers with attitude, correct? Of course you would. That’s why the Power Rangers are so popular, and have been for two decades. Now on the franchise’s 21st birthday, creator Haim Saban has announced that he’s partnering with Lionsgate to make a feature film with the karate chopping team that combines their individual battle vehicles into a mechanical beast worthy of Pacific Rim. This new Power Rangers movie marks the third feature film for the franchise, although the first two came back-to-back in the mid-90s when the series was first hitting its stride. Both were also low budget affairs that sought to bring the TV show into theaters, and while the first was a minor success, the second was a forgettable flop.

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Her political career may not have the ups and downs of say, a William Howard Taft (it’s also lacking fat-guy-in-bathtub anecdotes), but there’s some unseen force determined to give Hillary Clinton her own movie. This unseen force, whatever it may be, does not have a stellar track record. First came the conservative-produced Hillary: The Movie, which linked the former first lady to a series of seriously not-good scandals (despite what Scandal has lead us to believe, real-life scandals rarely involve steamy presidential love triangles that everyone can enjoy). The film was slated to release right before Mrs. Clinton’s performance in the 2008 Democratic Primaries, but the federal government intervened and shut the whole thing down. Hillary: The Movie was actually set to air solely on VOD, so the folks willing to pay for it would be the only ones affected by its various sordid accusations, but the mere threat of media-election tampering was enough to spurn on government action. Then it happened again. This summer, CNN had plans for a documentary on the First Lady-turned-Senator-turned-Secretary of State, but the entirety of our political spectrum stood up to proudly say “we hate this idea and you need to stop trying it.” Republicans, in protest of the documentary, voted to ban CNN from airing a all Republican debates in the coming election cycle. Meanwhile, every Democrat with aspirations to serve under a hypothetical President Hillary (which is essentially all Democrats) wouldn’t give CNN the time of day. CNN quickly folded; as did NBC, […]

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nowyouseeme

Louis Leterrier’s heist thriller Now You See Me looked like it had a lot of potential. Not only was it put together by a director who seemed to have a penchant for making on screen action sing, but it boasted an ensemble cast of actors so talented, and so varied in their talents, that the chance to see them working together seemed like a can’t miss prospect. But, in practice, the film had a whole lot of problems. Leterrier’s flare for action was undermined by the fact that the script made us sit through lengthy, boring presentations of magic tricks that wouldn’t be possible outside of the context of a movie. The heist element of the film was undermined because, instead of being tense sequences where you knew the plan and you waited for everything to either come together or fall apart, the robberies were fantasy nonsense that relied on CG trickery, impossible physics, and flat-out cheating in the writing in order to be pulled off. Plus, the characters couldn’t even get developed properly, because to focus too much on the ones who were most interesting would have ruined the obvious, unsatisfying plot twists the third act thought were so important. The screenplay for Now You See Me was so bad, in fact, that our own Rob Hunter went as far as to refer to it as, “shameless, lazy stupidity.” There is one big thing that the movie managed to do right though. It made so much of our money […]

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Dredd 3D

Karl Urban said back in May that, “if people want to see another [Dredd] installment then they should be vocal about that because it can happen. The power of fandom can resurrect projects.” Now 2000 AD, the publisher behind “Judge Dredd,” is hoping the actor is right because they’ve launched a petition to ultimately send to Lionsgate. The enthusiasm is commendable, and those who feel strongly should absolutely do it (while knowing it signs you up for 2000 AD’s email list), but the cold water here is that Lionsgate is going to listen to dollar signs over signatures. On that front, Dredd was a disappointment at the box office with a reported budget of $45M before marketing and a total haul of $36.5M buoyed mostly by international markets. The movie has done really well on home video, racking up more than $10M on DVD alone this year, and those are the figures the studio cares about. By all means sign a petition to have your voice heard, but attach a .jpg of your Blu-ray receipt if you want it to really matter.

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Youre Next Masks

You’re Next caused up quite a stir at last year’s Fantastic Fest. The movie was swiftly picked up for distribution by Lionsgate after receiving stellar reviews, one of which came from our own Scott Beggs, who described the movie as, “pure horror bliss, delivering an engaging group of characters, a badass chick, some iconic masks to add to the collection, and a new twist on slashers.” Rob wasn’t quite as taken with the film, but one thing is for sure, You’re Next is packed with horror images and a song that’ll stick with audiences. While at SXSW, we spoke with the director of You’re Next, Adam Wingard, about those memorable masks, finding its theme song and getting to direct fellow horror directors:

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Director David Wain has been a big name in the alternative comedy scene for a long time due to his work on The State and Stella, but he’s still looked at as something of a neophyte in the world of feature films. He’s directed one cult hit with his weird summer camp spoof Wet Hot American Summer, and one mainstream hit with his criminals-turned-mentors movie Role Models; but his last film, Wanderlust, kind of came and went with only a whimper. Let’s just chalk that up to the fact that it had Jennifer Aniston in the lead, though. Has anyone ever heard of a comedy she was in making any money? Undaunted by the terrors of possible obscurity, Wain is going back to the drawing board and putting together another project. Variety has word that it’s a comedy called They Came Together, and that it comes from a screenplay that has deep roots in Wain’s past. He co-wrote the film with fellow The State and Stella member Michael Showalter right after Wet Hot American Summer came out. It was a simple time, before Wain had to concern himself with things like studio concerns and mainstream relatability. Which begs the question – will this long unproduced script see Wain returning to his more absurdist comedic roots? And, if that’s the case, will a healthy dose of weird be what it takes to re-engage the eyeballs of a public who all but ignored his last project?

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Redoing Judge Dredd. Not the safest call, but one of the tricks the production from Lionsgate, DNA Films and IM Global has up its sleeve is the power of Lena Headey. When it was first announced, Karl Urban (Dredd himself) might have been that weapon, but Headey has become a fan favorite on Game of Thrones (a show people like to watch in great quantities apparently). Here’s a look at the actress as Madeline Ma-Ma Madrigal, rocking some serious scars and a look that could burn down a barn. What do you think? Hellacious, right? [LA Times]

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With their recent blockbuster smash, The Hunger Games, Lionsgate has gone from being a lesser studio, funding niche genre pictures and picking up the scraps that other studios throw away for distribution deals, to having the capital and cache to move up in the movie-making world. And you better believe that they’re feeling pretty grateful to The Hunger Games’ star, Jennifer Lawrence, for their new-found success. So, it should come as no surprise that the studio is trying to do everything they can to prop Lawrence up as an even bigger star and milk all of the money out of her fame that they can. To that end they’ve optioned a book for a film adaptation, with the intentions of developing it as Lawrence’s next starring vehicle. According to Deadline Lindytown, Lionsgate now has the rights to The Glass Castle: A Memoir, which is the autobiography of gossip columnist and regular MSNBC.com contributor Jeanette Walls.

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After losing Gary Ross, Lionsgate put a bunch of names into a big bowl and finally pulled one out. Turns out, they can’t get enough of people named Lawrence. According to The Hollywood Reporter, they’ve chosen Francis Lawrence – the director behind I Am Legend, Water for Elephants and Constantine – to take the reigns on the massively successful franchise. He beat out Bennett Miller (Moneyball) as well as a wishlist that included Duncan Jones, Tomas Alfredson and exactly zero women. The reason Lawrence won out seems to be in his abilities as much as it is his availability. His main contender, Miller, is already knee-deep in preparations for Foxcatcher, the filming of which would be right in the middle of Catching Fire‘s attempt to be finished in time to release Jennifer Lawrence back into the X-Men wilds. As for the prospect of Lawrence handling the material? Who knows. Nothing in Ross’s resume suggested he was the right choice for Hunger Games, and if you mash up Water for Elephants (with its rusty, sepia-tone-emulating style and romance) and I Am Legend (with its violence and poorly CGI-ed monsters), you’d end up with something living next door to the Hunger universe. Right? Now to complete the triumvirate, they need to hire Martin Lawrence. There’s gotta be a role for him.

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While many moviegoers might want to forget about Miley Cyrus‘s “film career” as a whole, it looks like they might not have to work so hard – one of the studios she’s completed a film for seems bent on doing it on their own. Cyrus starred in Lisa Azuelos‘s LOL, the English-language adaptation of the writer-director’s 2008 French film of the same name, back in 2010, and when it was picked up by Lionsgate for domestic distribution, the studio initially seemed excited about the project. Lionsgate’s then-production president, Allie Shearmur, said that it was “the kind of smart, fresh and accessible comedy that…is a great fit for Lionsgate’s release slate.” That’s apparently changed, however, as the L.A. Times (via Cinema Blend) reports that the studio has finally set the film for a release that clearly spells out how little they care about it – giving it a limited release in just seven cities on the same day The Avengers is released, May 4. Reportedly, “Lionsgate executives were not confident that they could successfully sell the picture, which centers on Cyrus’ character, named Lola, but features a series of interwoven tales involving teenagers.” Even worse, the film would have gone straight to DVD, but “contracts with foreign distributors contained a provision that the movie must be shown domestically in at least 100 theaters.” No matter, as apparently Lionsgate’s home entertainment division is handling the film’s marketing, not its theatrical marketing team. OMG.

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Genre dissections like The Cabin in the Woods are risky ventures. When filmmakers are clearly intent on both telling a story and offering a self-reflexive statement, there’s a significant chance that one impulse could overwhelm the other. The possible results — an ineffectual drama or a suffocating, pretentious satire — are not pleasant. So it’s fortunate that Cabin director/co-writer Drew Goddard, working closely with producer/fellow writer Joss Whedon, manages the tricky balancing act. His long-awaited horror movie, which has sat on the shelf for more than two years thanks to upheaval at original distributor MGM, is smart and fun, packing unexpected surprises while cleverly recalibrating genre expectations. The film’s about a group of five archetypal college friends — among them the jock figure (Chris Hemsworth), the stoner (Fran Kranz) and the “virgin” (Kristen Connolly) — who head to an isolated cabin for the proverbial weekend getaway. Naturally, something goes terribly wrong while they’re there, but it’s surely not what you think.

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First, there was some question as to whether he’d be back. Then there was word that he was still taking meetings. Now, it’s double super official: Gary Ross won’t be directing Hunger Games follow-up Catching Fire. According to Deadline Russell, the direct issued a statement claiming that the truncated preparation and shooting schedule was not acceptable. So now, Lionsgate is back to square one and facing down a movie that has to be wrapped by January in order to set Jennifer Lawrence free to turn back into a member of the X-Men. The question now: who should replace Ross? A deeper question: should it necessarily be a female director?

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After Rob won Best Headline last week with the story about Gary Ross potentially leaving The Hunger Games movies over a money issue, it appears as if it’s all still on the table. He’ll be meeting with Lionsgate today to talk about whether they have the pockets deep enough to woo him on back. That’s the story at least. The inner workings of all this will remain secret until someone writes a book that no one buys, but all that really matters is that Ross is in talks to come back on board as the clock ticks down to a shooting schedule that starts in August so that Jennifer Lawrence can fight oppression before she has to start her second year at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in January. For those who loved the movie, and for those that hated it, is Ross the right choice to return to the franchise, or is there a better director out there just waiting for a phone call? [THR]

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Per The Playlist, the rumors have now been confirmed. Gary Ross will not be returning for the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire. The film is set to begin production this fall (which should allow time for star Jennifer Lawrence to start working on the X-Men: First Class sequel come January) so this doesn’t appear to leave a lot of time to find a new director. But Ross wasn’t initially contracted for more than the first film, unlike the cast, so presumably Lionsgate has been thinking about this for some time. Which would be good. Wouldn’t want to have to rush the choice and end up with one of the Weitz brothers (who’ve never met a teen franchise they didn’t like). The Hunger Games was Ross’s third film as director, and he did a solid job with the material. Initial speculation was that he and the studio were at odds over pay for the sequel, but as The Playlist rightly points out, that’s most likely not the case. Ross’s more consistent career is in screenwriting (Big, Dave, Pleasantville, The Hunger Games), and with his three directorial efforts being spread across fourteen years, it’s clear he’s choosing his films carefully and knowingly.

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When it was announced that WWE Films would be teaming up with Lionsgate to reboot the Leprechaun franchise, it seemed like the fledgling film studio was on the verge of making a bunch of big moves due to the leadership of its new president Michael Luisi. And they are…but some of their moves are proving to be better thought out than others. WWE Films was originally conceived as a production studio that would develop film projects for WWE pro-wrestlers to star in, and there’s two new bits of news on that front. The first concerns the aforementioned Leprechaun reboot. Variety has a report that states the new project has an official title, Leprechaun: Origins, and it also mentions that the film is indeed intended as a starring vehicle for WWE’s resident leprechaun, Hornswoggle (Dylan Postl), which many have theorized since the project was first announced. This is good news as far as WWE’s film future is concerned. I mean, if you have a leprechaun living under your ring, you might as well find a way to make some money off of it. The less fortunate news involves WWE main-eventer Randy Orton. One of the WWE’s most recognizable current grapplers, Orton seemed like a solid choice to star in the third installment of WWE Films’ Marine franchise, The Marine: Homefront. So far every Marine movie has been about a super badass member of the U.S. Marine Corps getting a family member kidnapped and then having to go after them, and Homefront […]

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The Cabin in the Woods isn’t much of a deconstruction of the horror genre. In actuality, it’s a love letter from writer/director Drew Goddard and co-writer Joss Whedon to the genre. Some have labeled the horror-comedy as being in the vein of the Scream series, but The Cabin in the Woods should not be mistaken as a satire. Aside from a few winks here and there, Goddard stays away from smug self-referential storytelling. He tells his own story, rather than making fun of others. Forget the conventions you know about the horror genre, because what you know won’t help you say “I saw that coming!” while watching The Cabin in the Woods. It takes turns we haven’t seen before, making the film all the more difficult to discuss, especially with Drew Goddard. Here’s what Goddard had to say about The Cabin In the Woods and making out with wolves:

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Once you’ve already taken a film franchise both to space and to the hood, there aren’t really any other ways left that you can keep it going other than to bite the bullet and opt for a full reboot. So that’s what Lionsgate is doing with their Leprechaun films. Because heaven forbid we live in a world without more Leprechaun. Lionsgate isn’t just going to be attacking this project alone, however. In order to give us a new take on a little green Irish demon who is murderous in the protection of his gold they’re teaming up with Vince McMahon and his World Wrestling Entertainment. WWE Films started out as a division of the pro wrestling company meant to produce wide release features for its wrestling talent, but after the luke warm responses for films like The Marine and See No Evil, they’re regrouping and changing up their game plan a bit.

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There’s no director set. No cast. And Lionsgate wasn’t just thrilled about getting another Kick Ass out into the streets. Apparently none of that matters because comic creator Mark Millar is boasting a summer shooting schedule for a movie that has appeared dead since early last year. Of course, this comes after the last time Millar claimed Kick Ass 2: Balls to the Wall would be moving forward, and the time before that. In his latest interview with the Daily Record, Millar upped the ante by stating that the sequel to the Matthew Vaughn-directed ode to violence would start shooting this summer in addition to a film version of his comic “American Jesus.” A movie he first announced three years ago. He also claimed that he was responsible for Marvel’s success and the hype surrounding The Avengers, that he turns down tons of huge projects, and that he refuses to move to LA because he has major Hollywood players coming to him anyway. Seriously. The interview feature is a must-read simply for how bodacious it is. His newest sci-fi book will be the biggest franchise since Star Wars? This guy has brass bollocks. It’s a shame not even half the stuff he says publicly comes to pass.  

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There’s something great about the female-centric advertising coming out of a generic comedy based on an advice book for mothers about to deliver a bun fresh from the oven. The marketing team has faith in the women, and Lionsgate has faith in a woman-driven adult comedy. It’s clearly propelled by the success of Bridesmaids, but the more perverse secondary effect that that raucous comedy had on the studio math world is that crass women now equal box office gold. And thus, the posters for What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Again, it’s great to see women used so overtly for marketing without oversexualizing them (or, using their image months after their being sexualized?), but shoving bad lines with buzzwords in them reeks of desperation to appear edgy without actually having to be edgy. They won’t set back the women’s movement or anything, but they’re at least 10% heinous. Check them out for yourself:

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The Hunger Games

Our wise overlord Cole Abaius recently pointed out one of the most burning questions in Hollywood this year: will The Hunger Games be the next big thing? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since the project was announced. The fanbase is there, but doesn’t come close to matching the Twilight nation. And an even bigger question is whether this adaptation will reach non-fans, which will remain up in the air until the film’s released. The trailer was a mess and I can’t see this run-of-the-mill poster (courtesy of Moviefone) catching the eye of anyone who doesn’t obsess over the books. However, even if the marketing continues to rely on this image of Jennifer Lawrence looking like a plastic doll, my main hope will remain intact. It’s been over eight years since Gary Ross’s last film, so it’ll be nice having him back, franchise hit or not.

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