Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Chairman Joe Drake continued to emphasize the studio’s commitment to theatrical today, telling analysts on today’s 4Q earnings call that “we believe that people are anxious to get out of the house and do things” following the nationwide sheltering-in from COVID-19.
Drake also emphasized about the future of moviegoing, “We’re bullish on people coming back to theaters, but we’re not naive about the environment that we’re entering and that we’re in fluid situation and there’s a lot of things that have to happen for audiences to feel comfortable and safe in theaters.”
Yet while the marketplace could use some smaller, mid-sized, counter-programming titles to get exhibition primed up and running before big event movies like Warner Bros.’ Tenet and Disney’s Mulan open respectfully on July 17 and 24, there’s a financially savvy reason why Lionsgate has pushed their titles to late summer and fall; their next three theatrical releases being Antebellum on Aug. 21, Fatale on Oct. 30 and Voyagers on Nov. 27.
Essentially by going later, it allows Lionsgate “to operate in an agile way,” said Drake. The more data that Lionsgate can collect on how people go back to the movies, they can adjust their expenses accordingly, or re-date quickly. In addition to Lionsgate’s own tracking studies, the studio “will be monitoring audiences’ willingness to come back to theaters.”
“We’re about 6 weeks out from the first big wide release movie. That will give us an opportunity to see how audiences are leading up to that…and on that opening weekend, and triangulate data points,” added the Lionsgate Motion Picture co-Chairman.
Drake mentioned that Lionsgate is “in touch with exhibitors on a daily and weekly basis,” and commended them on how they’re preparing for audiences’ return with proper safety protocols.
Additionally Drake told analysts that the distributor is working with exhibition to re-license and play their catalog titles during the initial weeks when exhibition comes back.