The Quorum

CinemaCon 2024: Faith And Violence Dominate Lionsgate Slate

Lionsgate films can, for the most part, be sorted into three groups: 

Horror Films

Hard-R Action

Faith Based

In a bit of news making, Adam Fogelson, the Lionsgate moderator, kicked off the panel by highlighting five projects and properties in development. 

  1. HIGHLANDER has been mostly dormant since HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME in 2000. Filmmaker Chad Stahelski, helmer of the four JOHN WICK films for Lionsgate, is bringing the swordsman back with Henry Cavill stepping into the Christopher Lambert role. 
  2. NARUTO – The anime classic will be turned into a feature. As Fogelsonm pointed out, with over 200 episodes in the TV series, there’s plenty of source material to draw from. 
  3. NOW YOU SEE ME – The first film in 2013 made $118M domestic. The second one, released in 2016, only made $65M. Perhaps a rebound is in the cards with NYSM3
  4. BLAIR WITCH – The last time Lionsgate gave us the simply titled BLAIR WITCH, it flopped to the tune of only $21M. Jason Blum is shepharding the franchise going forward.
  5. MONOPOLY – Margot Robbie’s production company will be bringing the board game to the big screen in partnership with Hasbro. Let’s hope it’s more like BARBIE and less like BATTLESHIP

In terms of presentations, Lionsgate kicked things off with Guy Ritchie’s upcoming THE MINISTRY OF UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE. Fogelson used this opportunity to introduce Ritchie’s next film, IN THE GREY, and Henry Cavill, the star of both films. Adding in HIGHLANDER, and Cavill is deep in business with Lionsgate. GREY certainly has the gun-toting swagger of most Ritchie films, though this one feels more plot driven and accessible than some of his other recent titles. 

Back in 2019, Lionsgate forged a partnership with faith-based content creator Kingdom Story Group. The pairing gave is the surprise hit JESUS REVOLUTION, which grossed over $52M in 2023. While ORDINARY ANGLES couldn’t quite match the success of JESUS, the upcoming UNSUNG HERO aspires to be a stronger performer when it opens on April 26th.

Also part of this partnership, we got our first look at THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER arriving in theaters on November 8th. Starring Judy Greer and Pete Holmes, it appears innocuous enough, though it’s a mystery why Lionsgate is releasing the film seven weeks before Christmas. It may not even make it to Thanksgiving.

From there, Fogelson made a detour to BORDERLANDS, starring Cate Blanchett, Kevin Hart, Jamie Lee Curtis and newcomer Ariana Greenblatt, who came on stage with director Eli Roth. It appears as though Greenblatt steals the movie from a bunch of heavy hitters. An irreverent ensemble based on a game, BORDERLANDS shares some of the same DNA as last year’s DUNGEONS & DRAGONS. Hopefully it will do better. 

As Fogelson noted himself, this one’s been collecting dust for some time. Shot before Blanchett made TAR, this one may have an uphill battle at the box office, though it’s nice to see Kevin Hart in his first major theatrical role in five years after a string of Netflix films. 

Though we didn’t get footage of the upcoming SAW XI, most likely because there isn’t any, we saw that Lionsgate is leaning heavy into horror. We got an extended clip of THE CROW as well and an introduction to NEVER LET GO, a horror film starring and produced by Halle Berry, who made an appearance on the stage. GO tells the story of a mom and her two kids who are stuck in their house, each tethered to a rope. They can go outside as long as that rope is in place. Bad things happen if that line is broken. 

This was following by THE KILLER’S GAME starring Dave Bautista as a hitman who learns he has three months to live. With little time left, he hires a hit on himself, only to learn that his diagnosis was an error. Now he’s got to fend off the people he hired on himself. 

Mark Wahlberg came next in the film FLIGHT RISK directed by Mel Gibson (why Lionsgate? Why?). Set almost entirely on a small cargo plane, this looks like very intense. And wait until you see what they did to Wahlberg’s hair.  

And, as expected, there was a clip from the John Wick spin-off BALLERINA due next summer. Ana de Armas stars in the title roll. The footage looks fine. Keanu makes an appearance in the trailer, though oddly, Armas only has one line at the very end of the clip.

Between SAW, THE CROW, NEVER LET GO, KILLER’S GAME and FLIGHT RISK, Lionsgate is leaning hard into R-rated action films, with a few looking like bad xeroxes of WICK. There were several gruesome deaths on the big screen today, which stood in sharp contrast to the studio’s partnership with Kingdom Story Group. 

We also got a look at GOOD FORTUNE, written, directed and starring Aziz Ansari. It also features Seth Rogen, Keanu Reeves, Keke Palmer and Sandra Oh. It’s a super high concept piece that speaks to class and privilege through body-swapping. Does it work? Hard to tell. But it’s an original big swing. We’re rooting for it. 

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