CinemaCon 2024: Lionsgate Focuses on Franchise-Building

Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur, Courtesy of Lionsgate

Lionsgate is back with a robust theatrical slate, and their CinemaCon 2024 presentation went a long way in assuaging exhibitors’ concerns over the output they can expect outside of the legacy studios. Adam Fogelson, chair of the studio’s motion picture group, opened the Lionsgate presentation with a clear statement of ambition: 2023 was about reviving existing franchises like John Wick, Saw, and The Hunger Games; 2024 will be about developing new franchises like Highlander, Naruto, The Blair Witch Project, and Monopoly; and by 2025 it plans to deliver three to four tentpoles annually, in addition to a diverse slate of genre titles. Here is a recap of what we saw from Lionsgate’s presentation:

In the Grey | Jan 17, 2025

Director Guy Ritchie is becoming a brand name action franchise of his own at Lionsgate, helming the imminently released Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare (April 19) and the upcoming In the Grey (January 17, 2025). The topline cast for In the Grey—Henry Cavill, Jake Gyllenhall, and Eiza Gonzalez—have all previously featured in a recent Ritchie film.

Unsung Hero | April 26th, 2024

Lionsgate has stepped up its output of faith-based films in recent years, and 2024 is no exception. The studio’s working relationship with the Erwin Brothers’ faith-based production company, Kingdom Story Company, will see the release of Unsung Hero this April. The film follows the story of Christian recording artists For King & Country, a marketing boost that will likely help the film’s profile with its core audience. 

The Strangers: Chapter 1 | May 17th, 2024

Lionsgate looks to have franchise ambitions for the latest entry of this home invasion horror thriller. The original Strangers earned $52 million in its 2008 run, but the 2018 sequel fell short of expectations with a $24 million haul. Lionsgate’s relaunch of the series will give us a series of prequel entries that look to reignite interest from the horror community. 

Borderlands | August 9th, 2024

This long-delayed video adaptation from director Eli Roth will finally hit theaters at the end of the summer. When it does, it will find a very different box office landscape for video game movies. The success of Sonic, Uncharted, and The Super Mario Bros. Movie has redefined expectations for these properties. Whether or not Borderlands can fulfill that box office potential will come down to how it plays with general audiences unfamiliar with the game, a tall order considering the source material.

The Crow | August 23, 2024

The Crow is coming back to theaters—slightly later than originally intended. Lionsgate pushed the release of the latest entry from June to August ahead of the presenation. Footage screened at the presentation delivered a gritty, violent action flick that looks to appeal to the series’ core fans by expanding on the original’s legacy rather than trying to replace it.

Good Fortune | TBD

Good Fortune director-star Aziz Ansari was on hand at Caesars Palace to present an extended look at this (currently undated) comedy coming from Lionsgate. The film casts Keanu Reeves as a guardian angel assisting a struggling gig worker played by Ansari himeslf. The director lit up the CinemaCon crowd by going off-script on stage, but it was his comments on his confidence in making more big screen comedies that really endeared the crowd. 

John Wick Presents: Ballerina | June 6, 2025

This John Wick spin-off has has to evolve on the fly, seeing record box office numbers for the main series throughout its development. As a result, Ballerina has gone through changes throughout its production to keep up with the commercial expectations of one of Lionsgate’s most important franchises. Fogelson revealed that new setpieces from John Wick director Chad Stahelski have been incorporated into the film, introducing the first footage of Ballerina ever screened in front of an audience. From what we saw at Caesars Palace, it is clear that Ballerina will have close stylistic ties to the Wick franchise, with appearances from several of the core series’ characters in the film. Ballerina will side step questions over the fate of John Wick at the conclusion of John Wick 4, being set in between the third and fourth installments of the franchise. 

Michael | April 18, 2025

The real coup of the Lionsgate presentation came at the end, with the first look of early footage from Michael, the studio’s upcoming Michael Jackson biopic currently in production. Producer Graham King revealed that the film will incorporate 30 songs from Michael Jackson throughout the film, and that director Antoine Fuqua has shot recreations of iconic concert performances from the artist’s career for the film. Musical biopics have had an inconsistent performance at the box office, but the footage we saw from Michael confirms that Lionsgate has high expectations for this title. A year ahead of release, Michael has the potential of being one of the biggest cinematic events of 2025.

Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur, Courtesy of Lionsgate

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