Lionsgate co-COO Joe Drake on Thursday told entertainment analysts during a morning call that a distribution deal for the major Asian market was in place.
Asked if The Hunger Games will number among the 20 foreign films okayed each year by Chinese authorities for cinematic viewing, Drake answered coyly: “We will be released in China.”
At the same time, the indie studio's first movie in the trilogy of adaptations from Suzanne Collins' novels, set for theatrical release on March 23, 2012, will not screen in Imax theaters. Drake said other large format theaters owned and operated by major exhibition chains will screen The Hunger Games, but Imax will not follow suit due to a pre-existing agreement with a rival studio.
With much hinging on how The Hunger Games performs in theaters, Lionsgate is also eyeing an aggressive merchandising program to emerge alongside a lucrative movie franchise from the teen book trilogy. Vancouver-based Lionsgate has lined up Striker Entertainment, the same licensing and merchandising agency that handles the Twilight franchise for Summit Entertainment.
“We have the same A-team on board. With their guidance, we will be strong in specialty stores, be very present, but not over-push merchandise going into the theatrical release,” Drake told analysts. The strategy is to first establish the theatrical movie brand before advancing aggressively into big box retailers with The Hunger Games merchandise.
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Exciting! China, no Imax, and a merchandising plan! Personally, all this is good news to me. Not everything needs to be on Imax these days, plus I love that they plan on having an "aggressive merchandising program" yet they are not going to over sell thing before the film comes out. What do you think? Do you think not having it in Imax will hurt it's success?
Let us know in the comments!