I’ve seen a number of reactions to the news that Lionsgate has signed on distribute Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass,” and I’m curious to see how this plays out.
I’ll confess that part of me was a little disappointed at first that it’s at Lionsgate instead of Universal or Warner Bros., who were both also heavily in the running, but then I started thinking about it.
Lionsgate has something to prove with the film. I mean, they spent $50 million to pick it up. That would be a ton of money for a major studio, but for Lionsgate? That’s pushing all the chips to the center of the table and betting on red. That’s not what you do if you’re going to half-ass a release. I’m not sure how much of that $50 million was cash up-front and how much was a guarantee of P&A money, but overall, that’s a heck of a price tag, and I think it indicates how serious the studio is.
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Already I’m seeing bloggers compare this to “Midnight Meat Train,” assuming this is going to get dumped, but they’re not looking at the other factors. “Midnight Meat Train” was a movie that got caught in an executive shuffle, a sacrificial lamb. This, on the other hand, was an acquisition that was bought as part of a bidding war, and it’s THE priority for the company next year. This movie should be a slam dunk home run theatrical smash for the right marketing team, and I’d say this is a defining moment for Lionsgate. They’ve got marketable stars, they’ve got more than enough “holy crap!” moments to cut three or four different trailers, and they’ve got an easy concept with a tagline that’s been in place since before they started shooting: “With no power comes no responsibility.” All they have to do is spend right… not necessarily spend big, but spend right, really building a sense of “What the hell is that?!?” in the months leading up to the release, which is aiming for 3500 screens or more. That’s a huge committment on the part of Lionsgate. I’m not sure, since I can’t find the statistics, but that may be their widest release ever. I’ve heard that the reason they won out over the bigger studios, even those who were interested, is that Lionsgate is the one distributor that didn’t see scared of any element of the film. When you’re releasing a movie that’s filled with controversial and difficult material like this, you can’t act like you’re afraid of it, and it sounds to me like Lionsgate is looking forward to this particular challenge.
Man, I hope so.
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