EXCLUSIVE: We hear that Lionsgate has closed motion picture rights to produce a hybrid live-action movie based on Ubisoft's Rabbids video game franchise. Mandeville Films’ Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman, who were behind such mega hits as Beauty and the Beast and Wonder are producing with Jason Altman and Margaret Boykin for Ubisoft Film & Television.
Todd Strauss-Schulson at‘Isn’t it Romantic’ film premiere, Los Angeles, USA, Feb. 2019. Matt Baron/Shutterstock
The studio and producers are in advanced talks with Isn’t It Romantic‘s Todd Strauss-Schulson to direct. Alex Young from Mandeville will serve as an executive producer.
The Rabbids video games has sold more than 15M units to date and the animated television show airs in more than 110 countries. Rabbids are wild rabbit-like creatures who like to cause havoc and mischief, speak gibberish and yell “BWAH!” whenever they experience adrenaline rushes. They were initially introduced as antagonists in the mid ’90s video game franchise Rayman before going on to have a successful spinoff life of their own. The series consists mainly of party video games, though other genres have been explored as well.
The existing screenplay is being written by Matt Senreich, Tom Sheppard & Zeb Wells, and was revised by Todd Rosenberg, that was previously developed at Sony. Meredith Wieck and Chelsea Kujawa will oversee development for Lionsgate.
Strauss-Schulson, who is repped by WME, 3 Arts Entertainment and Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal Laviolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman, also helmed such pics as New Line’s A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas, and the critically acclaimed horror comedy Final Girls.
The deal was negotiated by Dan Freedman. Strass-Schulson’s deal was negotiated by Freedman, WME and Greg Slewett at Ziffren. Mandeville's deal was negotiated by Freedman, and by Aloni and Stewart Brookman at Hansen Jacobson. I hear that the deal took a year to hammer out and encompasses even merchandising.
Hugely successful movie franchises are often prime material for brilliant fan theories, and Keanu Reeves' John Wick series is certainly one of them. Already the inspiration for a few inventive theories, such as each movie representing one of the stages of grief, another one has emerged that will definitely make you rethink what you've seen. The theory gaining steam online at the moment posits that the entire universe is actually set within a video game, and once you start digging into it, it makes a disturbing amount of sense.
The theory speculates that the whole world of John Wick is based on video games, and includes many of the same tropes and things you'd expect to see. The theorist suggests that 'John Wick moves through the movie killing NPCs before encountering an end-stage boss who is usually more difficult, as well as there being 'minimum dialogue during the action scenes'. They quite rightly point out that most of the 'dialogue takes place before and after the action scenes' which could very well suggest that these scenes are 'like cut scenes in a movie'.
The video game theory also goes on to explain how John Wick is so indestructible, managing to continue fighting on despite being at the sharp end of some pretty violent attacks and injuries.
'John Wick is injured regularly as he goes about John Wicking, but when he is, the injury effects are short-lived. It is as if he is picking up health packs along the way. He shouldn't be walking, let alone fighting after getting stabbed, cut, sliced and shot.'
The theorist then adds some clarity to the mysterious currency that exists in the John Wick universe, explaining that 'coins are used in the movie in exchange for goods/services ok, the idea of currency did not originate in video games but gold coins remind me of Mario and Zelda'. Coins and other similar shiny talismans that can be collected are certainly a staple of video games. They also explain the peculiar obliviousness of the everyday public to the violent world around them, saying that 'the background characters mostly seem quite indifferent to the rampant violence, like typical nonchalant NPCs'.
The theory even includes a video game explanation of the mysterious hotel The Continental.
'The Continental is the shop / game admin area where John Wick goes to recharge his health, get supplies and save the game. In this place, the game's action stops per the rules of the Continental but these rules are flouted as John's awareness of the game around him unravels.'
It really does make a lot of sense, and possibly makes the John Wick movies the greatest video game movies ever made. The theorist then elaborates on what they believe will happen with the rest of the franchise, suggesting that things could get very meta indeed.
'Future John Wick films will progress the story plot of John Wick realising he is a person controlled character in a video game and him trying...
The cuts, numbering in the high teens, go into effect this week.
Lionsgate has laid off a number of employees within the film marketing and distribution team, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
According to a source familiar with the matter, some 15 to 20 employees across the entire company were given pink slips, many as part of an ongoing restructuring of the film group's marketing and distribution divisions. The source added that the layoffs had been in the works for months and were not impacted by the shutdowns caused by the growing coronavirus pandemic. No other layoffs are currently planned at the studio, which concludes its fiscal year on March 31.
Lionsgate's movie studio has seen success with Rian Johnson's Knives Out which grossed $311 million worldwide, and with a sequel in the works, Jay Roach's Bombshell $60 million worldwide and its newest release, the faith-based film I Still Believe which grossed $10 million earlier this month before theaters shuttered.
The layoffs come as Hollywood grapples with the closure of film and TV productions and movie theaters going dark to prevent the growing spread of COVID-19 amid the global coronavirus pandemic.
Lionsgate was forced to push back the bows of the upcoming films Antebellum originally slated for April 24, Run May 8 and Saw spinoff Spiral May 15, opting to hold for a theatrical release rather than an early VOD release. I Still Believe and Brahms: The Boy II are receiving early digital releases to cater to the audience at home.
This is the second round of layoffs under Joe Drake, who was named chairman of the film group in 2018. In January 2019, some 25 employees were let go from the marketing and distribution teams in the company's Santa Monica headquarters amid restructuring of the theatrical marketing division, run by Damon Wolf.
In its most recent earnings report, the studio's motion picture revenues were $473.9 million, up from $362.3 million a year ago, on strong box office from Knives Out and John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum.