Columbia Pictures’ The Dark Tower, a recent book to film adaptation of Stephen King’s magnum opus, may have been a flop as far as critics are concerned, but there’s no arguing that there is good money in movies based on books. Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit grossed nearly $3 billion, despite the fact that the director’s reinterpretation confusingly stretched a thin novel geared towards children into a bloated, action-packed fantasy epic. This phenomenon isn’t limited to the silver screen. HBO’s powerhouse series Game of Thrones, which is currently in its seventh season, is also based on a book series.
Lionsgate has taken notice of this trend, though the studio’s recent announcement goes beyond merely adapting existing book material, instead proposing to leverage their audience reach to inspire authors to resurrect their works in movie form. Jon Feltheimer, CEO at Lionsgate, recently hinted at his desire to see the Twilight and Hunger Games movie sagas continued, despite both franchises’ book and film series having run their respective courses.
Both fictional universes, at least according to Feltheimer, still have plenty of stories to tell. He made the comments while speaking at a quarterly earnings call with the studio’s financial analysts. The CEO contextualized his comments within a larger plan to enable content creators like Lionsgate to release their properties onto home viewing platforms, such as Netflix or pay-per-view and on-demand services, faster than current arrangements between studios and theaters allow.
Feltheimer told analysts that he sees a significant future in digital distribution, but that achieving his vision would require an open dialogue between the studios, theaters, and digital distribution services. The CEO also noted that there were significant legal hurdles to overcome thanks to anti-trust laws, but overall his tone was optimistic and forward-thinking. Feltheimer’s plan would mean a major shift in how the entertainment industry distributes its content, and while preliminary talks are underway, Lionsgate’s comments didn’t extend past the superficial.
Rather than simply using studio rights to create more pictures under the Twilight and Hunger Games banners, the CEO was careful to clarify that any continuation of these stories would only happen if series authors Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins, respectively, were involved. While fans would doubtless embrace further films, to date neither author has announced plans to continue their respective projects, nor did Feltheimer reveal whether or not the authors in question have been approached with any concrete plans.