BREAKING: Not that anybody thought he was leaving, but Lionsgate has announced a contract extension for Jason Constantine to continue as President of Acquisitions and Co-Productions at the studio’s Motion Picture Group. Constantine continues to play key roles in the studio’s projects and he steers the acquisitions team. The 13-year Lionsgate veteran has helped with recent acquisitions including the Expendables franchise, Cabin In The Woods, Arbitrage and the upcoming Joss Whedon pic Much Ado About Nothing, Girl Most Likely starring Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening, and the Gwyneth Paltrow-Mark Ruffalo starrer Thanks For Sharing.
What became clear to me while covering the Sundance Film Festival is how pivotal Constantine has been in working with Roadside Attractions accomplices Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff to make multi-platform releasing an eminently viable alternative for films that might not otherwise cut it as theatrical releases that need big P&A spends.
They cracked the door open with Margin Call and then blew the doors off the hinges with Arbitrage. That Nicholas Jarecki-directed film, which starred Richard Gere at a time he wasn’t exactly hitting them out of the park, grossed $8 million in theaters, and did a whopping $12 million in VOD in the U.S. Studies showed that people who saw it in theaters didn’t know it was on TV and vice verse. Had they not puzzlingly priced the VOD film lower than it costs to buy a movie ticket, it would have grossed more, but according to Jarecki, that film is on course to exceed $50 million in worldwide receipts in its first revenue run. As a bonus, it cost them less to market, and Jarecki told me that they keep around seven of every 10 dollars, as opposed to the 50/50 split for straight theatrical. And there hasn’t been a penalty for awards awareness. These VOD-centric deals have really given hope to festival films with iffy acquisition prospects.
He joined Lionsgate in 2000 from Trimark Pictures, where he was Director of Acquisitions.