A big topic of conversation for me lately has been Lionsgate’s business plan. Or rather, the lack of one. The studio seems morally averse to any movie that isn’t in the Saw franchise, and them buying your picture is certainly not a good sign. While Midnight Meat Train isn’t the greatest film ever made, it’s really commercial, yet Lionsgate shit on it by dumping it in dollar theaters (to fulfill a contract). When My Bloody Valentine 3D made a bunch of money and director Patrick Lussier announced he and writer Todd Farmer had a great sequel idea, the studio opted to not bother with another film. Why do you even remake a slasher movie like that if you’re not going to try and get a franchise out of it?
Other Lionsgate purchases have been dumped straight to video. The Burrowers is a big screen movie that 99.99% of its audience will only ever experience on their TVs. It’s a trend with this company – if the movie doesn’t sell itself, I feel like they don’t know how to sell it. Look at a movie like Punisher: War Zone, which was mishandled right into the grave.
So where does that leave Kick-Ass? Today Lionsgate picked up Matthew Vaughn’s ultraviolent adaptation of Mark Millar’s comic book. While that’s nice – the movie apparently kicked ass at Comic Con without a distributor* – I wonder how the hell Lionsgate is going to deal with this film.
Despite the snark in the headline, they likely won’t dump it. They paid 50 million dollars for it, after all, which is a big deal for them. But that still doesn’t mean they’ll have the slightest clue on how the hell to market the picture. Look at how the studio sold The Spirit. They just don’t seem to have the know-how to really get a picture out there (and yes, The Spirit stinks. But that has never stopped a studio from opening a picture before. That’s what good marketing teams do: they open bad pictures), and Kick-Ass is not an easy sell. Yeah, all of us are going to see it, but that’s just about one fifth of Lionsgate’s investment.
And Vaughn needs a hit. A nice guy, I just wonder if he’s a great director. I liked Layer Cake plenty but Stardust was middling to terrible (if a pleasant middling to terrible). This is a risky picture – it features a murderous ten year old girl! – and if this doesn’t work he may be back to producing British gangster movies.
I hope nothing but the best for Kick-Ass. I really want to see the film. But now that it’s at Lionsgate, I’m not holding out a lot of hope for it.
* a number of undistributed films came to Comic Con this year. Is the convention turning into a marketplace?
UPDATE: HitFix reports that Lionsgate has committed to 3500 theaters, so Kick-Ass won’t be getting Meat Trained.