Lionsgate TV Boss On Studio’s Expansion, Deal Strategy, ‘John Wick’ & ‘Saw’ – Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: When a lot of the mud settled on the Covid-impacted 2020 broadcast pilot season, indie Lionsgate TV ended up with three new sequence orders — for Home Economics, which got off to a promising start at ABC, This Country at Fox and Ghosts at CBS —  on par with the key, vertically built-in studios and making for an ideal 3-for-3 pilot-to-series conversion ratio.

The latest foray into broadcast is one among a number of strategic shifts for Lionsgate as it’s adjusting to its twin position as the first studio of a premium community (company sibling Starz) and a third-party provider to different networks and platforms. They additionally embody a transfer to a extra decentralized “pod” mannequin counting on manufacturing partnerships with prolific, self-sufficient showrunners and firms, together with Courtney Kemp, who’s behind Starz’s Power franchise and Dirty Thirty within the works at HBO, in addition to majority-owned 3 Arts Entertainment, BBC Studios, the Tannenbaum Co. and Paul Feig, every of which have yielded a number of sequence, and up to date offers with The Timberman-Beverly Company and Rob Hardy.

As a consequence, Lionsgate has doubled its output, from 12 authentic scripted sequence in 2020 to 24 this yr, 13 of them at Starz, run by CEO Jeff Hirsch. The studio has two ongoing streaks: all six of its most up-to-date pilots have been picked as much as sequence (Minx and Julia at HBO Max, Ghosts at CBS, This Country at Fox, Home Economics at ABC, Run the World at Starz), and all six of its new sequence that launched in 2020 had been renewed for a second season (Love Life, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, Mythic Quest, Power Book II: Ghost, P-Valley, Hightown).

Kevin Beggs


In an interview with Deadline, Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs discusses the corporate’s broadcast and general deal technique and divulges particulars in regards to the studio’s high-profile John Wick TV offshoot The Continental at Starz, together with the sequence’ uncommon movie-style three-part format; which character the prequel will likely be centered on; and whether or not the movies’ Keanu Reeves will seem.

Beggs talks about Lionsgate’s 360 technique for mining IP that The Continental is a part of, reveals {that a} new sequence rake on American Psycho is within the works and addresses the long-circulating rumors a few Saw TV sequence.

He additionally speaks in regards to the challenges of filming throughout the pandemic, the headlines-making a number of stoppages on the studio’s sequence Mythic Quest over optimistic assessments and the modifications to the enterprise introduced on by Covid that he welcomes and plans to maintain.

Lionsgate Is Becoming Broadcast Force, Helped By Streaming Wars

Except for the 2008 NBC summer season anthology sequence Fear Itself, Lionsgate TV had finished just one scripted sequence on the key broadcast networks earlier than final season: the 2012 nation music drama Nashville, which began on ABC earlier than migrating to CMT.

When Lionsgate entered the TV enterprise within the early 2000s as a smaller, upstart impartial studio, the published mannequin was dominant, with studios raking in billions of {dollars} from hit, long-running sequence, promoting them in off-network cable syndication, broadcast syndication and internationally (later joined by DVD gross sales and most just lately streaming). But the mannequin additionally includes dangers as studios deficit-finance sequence, resulting in losses of tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} on a flop. Aside from HBO, which had already established itself as an authentic programming participant, the opposite cable networks, together with ad-supported, had been simply dipping their toes within the water, with main studios largely shunning them as a result of cable reveals’ revenue margins had been slim in comparison with the potential windfall in broadcast.


“Mad Men”

“But we were small, nimble, good producers, not a giant deficit capacity, so we were a perfect partner to USA on The Dead Zone, to Showtime on Weeds and Nurse Jackie, to AMC on Mad Men because they were doing budgets that were not quite as robust and as big as broadcast, but they also had deficits that were also not as big,” Beggs stated. “There weren’t 22 (episodes a year), they were 10 or 13, and they had no issues with a studio deficit and controlling international distribution where we could hopefully recover some of that deficit — if not all — before we even got to a downstream sale.”

Meanwhile, in addition to huge deficits, the problem in broadcast was vertical integration, with the networks giving preferential therapy to totally owned sequence from their sister studios versus co-production with outdoors studios, which they solely partially personal. Lionsgate TV was capable of break by way of with Nashville.



“I think it did very well, but it was caught a little bit in that transition period before the advertisers were getting any credit for Live+3 or Live+7 or Live+35 because it remains one of ABC’s biggest catch-up shows ever, but they couldn’t quite monetize that as well,” Beggs stated in regards to the soapy drama, which was canceled by ABC after 4 seasons and ran for 2 extra on CMT, the place it broke community score data.”

The huge conventional media corporations’ present streaming push has created linear alternatives for indies like Lionsgate TV.

“What’s happened most recently is that, as the vertically integrated conglomerates are prioritizing streaming a little bit more, the broadcasters for the first time in several years have been more open to third-party suppliers in a very meaningful way,” Beggs stated. “I think you’re seeing it at Fox, you’re seeing it at CBS, at CW,” Beggs stated. “You’re seeing all kinds of different models, Canadian shows are finding their way, a flurry of them, maybe accelerated by pandemic as well; that’s happened in the past during strike eras. But I think for us it’s an interesting opportunity, and (TV Group president) Sandra (Stern) has been very effective at essentially reinventing some of the models that can make it more favorable for both parties, and that’s also been a key for us to open some doors that might have been difficult for us to open before.”

Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

“Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”
Sergei Bachlakov/NBC

The mannequin tweaks have allowed Lionsgate TV, whose growth and present programming groups are led by Scott Herbst, Jocelyn Sabo and Lee Hollin, to beef up its broadcast presence with reveals at every of the Big 4 networks, sophomore Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist at NBC, Home Economics at ABC, Ghosts at CBS and This Country at Fox. “We’ve never had that much, and I can tell you, our distribution team, when we’re holding onto those distribution rights, those are very important because as stuff moves into more and more of streaming and closed-circuit systems, there aren’t as many available offerings the way there used to be for the international buyers,” Beggs stated. “There’s a little bit of a starvation of programming out there, and so something original and good that we distribute and own and control that’s coming off of a major platform is very valuable.”

Lionsgate’s 360 Strategy & Potential Saw Series

“Speaking on the 360, it was really something we adopted three or four years ago officially,” Beggs stated. “I feel it was at all times an unofficial, I used to say that it was Lionsgate’s elevator financial institution 360 as a result of what would occur is you’d be in an elevator trip with an government from one of many different inventive teams and it’d be like, hey, this selection is working out on this e book, and we haven’t been capable of put it collectively, perhaps it’s a TV present? Then we’d have 24 hours to make a deal. We realized that simply doing this informally wasn’t so good as a result of we had been at all times up in opposition to it on a clock on some deal, on a terrific e book, and all of us needed to learn it over the weekend and decide by Monday at eight. So that’s once I pitched to (Lionsgate CEO) Jon (Feltheimer) the thought of truly making it a working group, a 360 group that was comprised of movement image, tv, location-based leisure, which incorporates Broadway, podcasting, all of these extensions, and Starz, when the businesses joined. 3 Arts additionally has a consultant.



“And it’s only creative people because creative people are always leaning in to figure out how to say yes. There will be business obstacles, I’m sure, later, but in that room it’s just green fields and blue skies and what if. That has led to a lot of really great collaborations. We’ve just wrapped up Dear White People which was a really good experience, Blindspotting is coming up, American Psycho is in development. We’re always exploring what we can do in television with something like the Saw franchise, so that’s a conversation.”

Beggs wouldn’t elaborate additional, however I hear that Lionsgate TV is in early talks on a TV sequence adaptation of the e book of Saw, from Mark Burg and Oren Koules’ Twisted Television. The Saw movie franchise, one of many longest-running horror franchises in historical past and which has grossed over $1 billion on the field workplace, has lengthy been rumored as ripe for a TV growth.

The Continental Details – Enter Young Winston, Exit Keanu Reeves In 90-minute “Events”

Beggs singled out Lionsgate’s John Wick as illustrative of the 360 technique. “It’s such a successful franchise, it’s on its way to its fourth and fifth installments as a movie,” he stated. “It’s got such a great mythology and such interesting style, and the gun fu approach of these incredibly poetic stunt esthetics is just out of this world, which is why the movie with Keanu Reeves — who is so amazing in everything he does but particularly compelling as John Wick in our mind — it just cries out to be something in TV. Just like the Marvel Universe and the DC Universe from a TV perspective are incredibly opportunities, and that is our superhero franchise in the family.”

Lionsgate TV labored intently with Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake, president Nathan Kahane, president of manufacturing Erin Westerman and president of acquisitions and co-productions Jason Constantine, in addition to the movies’ producers Basil Iwanyk and Erica Lee at Thunder Road and Chad Stahelski and Reeves, to “find a way in that was additive, didn’t cancel out any other plans that they might have down the road for” future film installments, Beggs stated.

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Ian McShane as Winston in “John Wick”

“We took a lot of pitches, and then the creative team from this obscure little show called Wayne that was on YouTube came to us with their take,” he stated. “we were really blown away because it solved a bunch of problems and was super exciting, about a crumbling New York in the 1970s with a garbage strike that has piled up bags of garbage to the third floor of most brownstones, the mafia muscling in on that business which is why in The Sopranos he’s in the sanitation business, and other things that are really real as an interesting backdrop to explore the origins of The Continental which is famously within the movie franchise the assassin’s hotel in which you cannot kill anyone on the hotel grounds, but of course if you step one foot off you’re fair game, and that’s employed to great effect in many of the plots in the movies. Running all of that is Winston, who is played by Ian McShane (in the movies).”

McShane beforehand confirmed that he received’t seem in The Continental however might do voice-over work.

“What we’re exploring in The Continental is the young Winston and how it came to be that he and his team of confederates found their way into this hotel which we have met for the first time in the movie franchise 40 years later,” Beggs stated. “That’s the arena. I won’t give away more than that, but Starz really leaned into this take also, and they have been great collaborators. And how we’ve approached this first season is as three essentially 90-minute events which you could construe as a limited series or a limited event series.”

Initially, when The Continental was first introduced by Starz in 2018, the community’s brass stated that “you can expect to see Reeves at some point on the series.” A yr and a regime change later, CEO Jeff Hirsch refused to verify whether or not Reeves would seem on the sequence or not. Deadline requested Beggs to make clear the actor’s participation.

“Keanu is in talks to executive produce,” Beggs stated. “Because we’re way back in time, way back pre-John Wick and even pre-young John Wick, that character is not finding his way into the universe. We are in the John Wick universe, but it’s way back in time. Think about the Game of Thrones prequels before you know any of the players, but you do know the world. But Keanu and Chad have read every draft and been enthusiastic supporters of expanding this universe in a meaningful way. So, I never rule out anything, but at this point he’s pretty busy making his movies which are very important to us.”

Lionsgate’s Overall Deal Strategy

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“It’s a mix. There’s the showverall development deals which are built around proven creator-writer-producers that are already in the family,” Beggs stated. “Courtney Kemp and her company End of Episode, Rebecca Cutter who is the creator-showrunner of Hightown, we have a long-term relationship with Katori Hall who is an amazing writer-creator-producer of P-Valley. There are a few that are in essence shared, because Starz has a long-standing overall relationship with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and his G-Unit Film & Television who’re a part of the Power universe and so they even have a present that we’re all doing collectively referred to as BMF. They are very energetic in growing, and something that isn’t precisely proper for Starz we wind up working along with them on. (We wind up on the Starz issues as properly, however they’ve a mechanism in the event that they wish to take one thing off-platform).”

“We’re always open to fostering new voices, usually sourced from our own shows where you’ve discovered a talent. We have a relationship with Laura Chinn who created Florida Girls for us at Pop before Pop got out of the scripted business, and she is really remarkable and an amazing voice.”

“And we also made deals with Temple Hill and Timberman-Beverly, we’re in the early stages of that but already some great things that we’re cooking up. They’re incredibly prolific, quite independent, and we love that as well because we’re a small band, and experienced producers like the Tannenbaums, Timberman-Beverly, Temple Hill, Point Grey, Paul Feig and team who are just off to the races, they’re just letting us know what’s happening as opposed to hey, what should we do. That’s also a great asset in the family of deals because they’re out there, eating what they kill, if you will, and that’s helpful for us because again, we’re very lean.”

The Cost of Making TV During the Pandemic

Like all different Hollywood studios, in March 2020 Lionsgate rushed to close down all of its productions within the span of 1 weekend amid the escalating coronavirus pandemic. But it additionally was one among simply a few studios that had sufficient footage to place collectively a pilot/significant presentation final pilot season, attributable to some fast pondering on the a part of Feig, government producer of the corporate’s Fox comedy pilot This Country, an adaptation of the British format.

This Country

“This Country”

“The irony of This Country, which shot one day in Wilmington, NC, before we shut down, was that Paul told us that morning that he sensed that the curtain might be closing. So he changed the entire shooting schedule for that first day. He brought in every actor even though many were not scheduled, they were working later in the week, and ultimately from that one day of dailies we were able to cut a 16-minute pilot presentation to present to Fox, and it had everybody, which was really great.”

Out of that, Fox ordered the mission to sequence. Originally, solely the pilot was alleged to shoot in North Carolina, with the sequence based mostly in New York. But amid the pandemic, a choice was made to maintain the sequence in Wilmington, a extra rural location that match with the present’s outdoor-driven nature, and it helped get manufacturing up and working early.

“Expense is quite significant,” Beggs stated about filming throughout the pandemic with Covid protocols. “It’s like making another two episodes except you don’t get to see them on top of a whole season. Our network partners and we have navigated those thorny financial issues to figure out how to keep going and get it done with an expectation that over time, and hopefully with the vaccine rollout going quickly, that many of these costs will go away. The testing is probably perhaps some of the biggest.”

Mythic Quest‘s Rocky Season 2 Shoot Amid Pandemic

Lionsgate’s Apple TV+ comedy Mythic Quest, led by co-creator, government producer and star Rob McElhenney, was among the many first sequence to return to manufacturing final fall. Shooting on the CBS Studio Center, the office comedy noticed a slew of optimistic Covid-19 check outcomes which led to a number of shutdowns.

Mythic Quest Season 2

“Mythic Quest”
Apple TV+

“I’m happy to talk about Mythic Quest,” Beggs stated. “Every present has had its difficult moments, and Mythic Quest I feel greater than any present rose creatively to the event after they made their Covid episode, which was implausible, and so they obtained that finished in quarantine which was actually outstanding.

“And in addition they, after we explored many, many unique areas to maneuver the present, from Australia to New Zealand to Hawaii to Budapest, decided that we wanted to remain in L.A. and undertake the protocols, and mainly do every part proper. Of course in a pandemic you are able to do every part proper, and the virus will nonetheless meet up with you. It’s not a matter of if relative to infections on a present. We get a day by day replace, the testing and the protocols truly work. The fundamental factor is that they detect, and plenty of, a lot of this stuff are available in by way of extras, there isn’t any excellent NBA bubble in tv, there really isn’t. You’re taking pictures for months and months and months. It’s not like a film and everyone seems to be in Australia, you have got a lodge, and no person goes out and in.

“It’s very different, but I think really the measure of all these shows is how they respond and how they pivot, and Rob and team were insistent when infection did happen across the show to shut it down, forget about the normal responses, let’s just get those two more days and we’ll have an episode in the can, which a studio person like me typically would be saying to them. They did the right thing, and Apple supported us financially to do the right thing because as I said, these things are expensive, but we’ve had some other shutdowns on other shows as well, and sometimes it’s just the luck of the draw. Nobody has been immune. I can’t think of one show that hasn’t had infection. But now we’re seeing a nice drop-off. I hope it’s tied to weather and vaccination, and I think we’re going to be in a better place very soon.”

Covid’s Lasting Impact and “Silver Linings” Of Working During a Pandemic

“The protocols, I think many of them will last forever in terms of just extra thoroughness about health and safety in a non-pandemic environment, but also who knows what the next thing that might be around the corner,” Beggs stated. “You’re going to consider catering in a different way and the way you house folks on a set, and air flow, all the identical issues that everyone who’s working in an workplace atmosphere is wrestling with. So, I feel the prices will go down and they’re going to then simply turn into a part of all of the calculus of any present’s monetary image versus this bomb that dropped out of the blue on all people.

“We have found, there are some amazing silver linings in terms of productivity and connectivity which this has forced upon us in the Zoom, Webex, BlueJeans, Google Hang era. Everyone is up against the pandemic, so of course that brings everybody together, but I think we’re going to hold onto some of these meeting protocols, these communication and process protocols forever. I will never, ever, ever again do an overnight red eye — which was my specialty — to New York for a 10 a.m. meeting, back on the plane by the end of the day so that I wouldn’t incur another day of hotel costs. I’ve probably done that 40 times in my history at Lionsgate. That’s never happening again.”

Source Link – deadline.com

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