“We have high goals for this one….we’re feeling very, very bullish,” Lionsgate Motion Picture Group co-chairman Rob Friedman told analysts this morning as execs talked up the financial opportunities for the recently announced epic film from veterans of the studio’s hit Hunger Games franchise.
Indeed, CEO Jon Feltheimer says that Lionsgate’s deal for The Odyssey with director Francis Lawrence “contemplates more than one movie.” And Friedman noted that “there’s also this wonderful book called The Iliad, so we’ve been thinking about the opportunities.”
Execs assured Wall Street that the studio won’t take a huge financial risk on the project, to begin production early next year: Many Lionsgate projects use a lot of special effects, and take advantage of tax credits, international sales and investment partners. “You can assume we’ll have a similar mix with The Odyssey and not go outside of our franchise model,” Feltheimer says.
They’re also counting on the film to have a strong appeal to oversees audiences. “We actually see tremendous opportunity for Latin America, and particularly with our partners at Groupo Televisa,” says Feltheimer, who recently joined the Mexican broadcast company’s board. They’re “already having significant conversations.”
In addition to director Lawrence, Hunger Games writer Peter Craig and producer Nina Jacobson will work on The Odyssey.
Along with the talk about the film, Feltheimer said that there’s “early planning” for Now You See Me 3. Now You See Me 2 is in production and is targeting a June 2016 release date.
He also noted that Lionsgate, MGM and Viacom have renewed their film licensing deal with Epix, which they co-own. The CEO doesn’t see the involvement with the premium channel as an obstacle to a possible deal with Starz now that its largest shareholder, Liberty Media’s John Malone, is on Lionsgate’s board. “It’s a great opportunity to be involved with both of them,” he says. The relationship with Malone also puts Lionsgate “in the orbit” of other companies he controls including Charter Communications and Discovery. “I’m not going to speculate about those today,” Feltheimer says.