Lionsgate threw very strong support behind its country music drama Nashville which was cancelled by ABC earlier this month after four seasons, telling analysts this morning that “the fans and everyone else is clamoring for many more seasons … our near-term plan is to get another season.” They said they are “getting a lot of inbound inquiries” and that they are concentrated on Season 5 with Marshall Herskovitz (and Ed Zwick) as the show-runner and that “they hope to talk about this show for years to come.” Indeed, they have been working on stories for next season.
In addition, with the end of its Hunger Games franchise and the lacking performance of the last installment of the Divergent Series: Allegiant (which they admit that they probably rushed to meet the distribution date), the company is turning its attention to Power Rangers, telling analysts that they hope to do “five, six or seven of them.” Power Rangers, the feature version based on the popular and long-running kids series of the same name, bows March 24, 2017. They said that they will be releasing photos shortly of the costumes.
The company noted that the Top Ten movies have historically taken in anywhere from 26% to 36% of the overall box office pie, that leaves close to $7B to $8B and, co-chair of the Motion Picture Group Rob Friedman said, “We plan to take a pretty healthy piece of that. We believe very much of our strategy of offering more product for wider audiences and clearly at a more efficient price. If you look at the first Twilight and the first Hunger Games … we were planning for doubles and ended up with grand slams.” With a budget $100M less than previous years, they said they have more product now with less cost and talked up upcoming movie fare LaLa Land, Now You See Me 2 and also Nerve (which it moved into the summer to July 27, they said, based on the fact that it tested so well with audiences; the trailer has already garnered 20 million views).
Clearly, on the film side, they need another franchise to hit. Still, Lionsgate’s shares were up about 11% this morning, mostly due to yesterday’s news that its March quarter beat expectations. That was largely due to its successful television operations, with production up over 100% and profits up 860%.
They noted that they were focused on rights retention in any deals that they do and also on library growth. Lionsgate executives said that its library — which is 90% film and 10% TV titles — continues to generate revenue (roughly $520M with cash flow approaching $200M). The company added 600 titles to the library in the past year with deals with New Regency, Hearst, Skydance and with a major stake in Pilgrim which put the company squarely in the unscripted TV business.
The deal gave Lionsgate and Pilgrim a combined roster of nearly 80 TV series across 40 networks. They said that they are “already collaborating with Pilgrim on several new shows.”
Lionsgate also mentioned that it had a $200M to $300M adjusted EBITDA for 2017. They said that with the “unpredictability of the film business … with 15 new TV and 16 films still scheduled we thought it appropriate to provide a wider range of guidance.”