Monday, December 4, 2023

CinemaCon 2023 Recap: Lionsgate

Lionsgate wrapped up CinemaCon 2023 with the final studio presentation in sharp contrast to the other studios. While every other studio took hours to reveal its slate and trot out dozens of special guests, Lionsgate was short and sweet. The executives read down the list of upcoming releases, mentioned a few highlights, and that’s about it. They did, however, cap off their presentation with a full screening of their upcoming raunchy comedy “Joy Ride,” which went over well with the crowd of theater owners to loud laughs.

To support “Joy Ride,” Lionsgate brought out director Adele Lim, stars Ashely Park, Sherry Cola, Stephanie Hsu, and Sabrina Wu, along with writer Cherry Chevapravatdumrong and producer Seth Rogen. When asked why she wanted to make “Joy Ride,” Lim explained, “I had just come off a Disney animated movie, but I really just wanted to tell dick jokes.” She succeeded, crafting a new “Bridesmaids” for this decade. Lionsgate’s President of Distribution cheered the film on, mentioning the raucous screening at SXSW in March. “Anyone who questions whether theaters are still the best venue for comedies must not have been at SXSW.”

The other major highlight of Lionsgate’s presentation was “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” The team unveiled a new poster and trailer shortly before releasing both online. Visually, the prequel looks perfectly in line with the look of the original films with an appropriately gritty and grimy aesthetic which has always given this franchise some dramatic weight. They appear to have made use of lots of real locations and sets rather than green-screen environments, grounding the footage. Rachel Zegler and Tom Blyth fit right into this world. Audiences are already clamoring for this one, but they’ll have to wait until November 17th.

Otherwise, Lionsgate showcased no new footage of any kind for their upcoming releases, instead reading through their forthcoming slate and briefly describing each one. Some franchises are coming back to theaters this year, like “Expendables 4” (or “Expend4bles”) and “Saw X.” Building on the success of “Wonder” all the way back in 2017 is “White Bird,” which formerly had the subtitle “A Wonder Story.” Other films highlighted were “About My Father,” starring Robert De Niro, the horror-comedy “The Blackening,” directed by Tim Story, and the faith-based Hilary Swank-starring film “Ordinary Angels.” Fogelson also celebrated two new wildly different releases hitting theaters this weekend, “Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret.,” and “Sisu.”

As is the custom at CinemaCon, Fogelson made his commitment to the theatrical experience. “Nothing in any future I see can replace the theatrical experience,” Fogelson says. “Neither the advent of television, or the advent of videotapes, or the advent of DVDs, or the advent of streaming platforms, or even a global pandemic can stop that.” With films like “John Wick: Chapter 4” already boosting the box office this year, Lionsgate vows to keep that commitment to theaters strong in 2023.

What was your favorite piece of news from the Lionsgate panel at CinemaCon this year? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account.

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Daniel Howat
Daniel Howat
Movie and awards season obsessed. Hollywood Critics Association Member.

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