Lionsgate UK & Europe CEO Zygi Kamasa Talks Box Office Opening For ‘Knives Out’, The Studio’s Widest Ever Release In UK

Daniel Craig and Chris Evans in 'Knives Out'
Claire Folger/Lionsgate

EXCLUSIVE: “This is a great reflection on story-telling,” says Lionsgate UK & Europe CEO Zygi Kamasa about Knives Outs solid UK debut of $3.8M, including two days of previews.

Rian Johnson’s movie, which landed second behind Frozen 2‘s colossal $19M, is Lionsgate’s widest ever UK release on 630 sites, surpassing box office sensation La La Land. Damien Chazelle’s 2017 musical did double the opening of Knives Out in the UK but it was something of an anomaly.

Knives Out, an original crime-comedy IP, has made an impressive $70M global over its first weekend off a budget estimated to be around $40M. Lionsgate financed the film with MRC.

The starry ensemble, about a detective (Daniel Craig) who investigates the death of a patriarch (Christopher Plummer) to an eccentric family, has had strong reviews in the UK.


“It’s a good, fun alternative for most ages, but especially adults,” explains Kamasa (pictured left). “It’s a terrific result for us and its reach is a reflection of how much exhibitors have embraced the film. Today, people say cinema has to be an event, with the majors moving towards $200-300M movies to guarantee that event. Knives Out is a movie set almost entirely in one house. It’s good enough that the material has driven people to see it.”

Lionsgate had its own spectacle pic recently in the shape of big-budget indie movie Midway, released three weeks ago in the UK for a cume of only $2.6M. “Midway won’t gross near Knives Out here”, says Kamasa. “It shows that it isn’t all about spectacle. Audiences want great story-telling.”

But to what extent is $3M really a “terrific” opening, factoring in P&A? “Films can open to many different numbers,” admits Kamasa. “Everything is relevant to brand and size. Frozen opened on not many more screens than us and grossed $19M in the UK. The thing to remember about Knives Out is that it wasn’t a very expensive movie. It’s a contained, murder-mystery with a terrific ensemble. It will be very profitable for Lionsgate. Everything is relevant to cost.”

“We opened here against the Charlie’s Angels reboot, which cost more than Knives Out. I don’t think that movie did as much on the weekend as we did in our previews. Audiences are either outright rejecting a movie or embracing quality. That’s where we’re finding our place.”

Kamasa predicts Knives Out will cross at least $13M in the UK and $200M global, “I think we’ll hold on all our screens next weekend in the UK. This coming weekend is relatively quiet. Frozen will of course remain gangbusters but I think we’ll hold top five for at least a few weeks. There are some big movies coming the shape of Jumanji and Star Wars but exhibitors are saying they think it will play through to the New Year.”


“This rounds off a good year for us,” the London-based executive continues. “It’s one of our best years since we had The Hunger Games. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum ($13.5M), Angel Has Fallen ($9.6M), Fighting With My Family ($7.7M, pictured left), Rambo ($3.3M), have all done well. The majors will have a few monster movies making 20, 30, 40 million but we will have four-five movies making in the $10-13M range.”

Coming out early next year for Lionsgate UK are U.S. pipeline movies such as Bombshell and Brit fare such as BIFA winner The Personal History Of David Copperfield andĀ Military Wives. Saoirse Ronan-Kate Winslet starrer Ammonite, The Father and Ironbark are likely to be second half of 2020 and are all British awards contenders, Kamasa predicts.

“None of those are typical ‘event movies’ but they will be ‘events’ because they are so good. We expect good box office for all of them.”

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