Lionsgate is already home to such popular young adult book-turned movie franchises as The Hunger Games and Divergent, and the studio is aiming to relaunch the Power Rangers brand on the big screen in 2016. Meanwhile, the studio is planning to turn the film Now You See Me - an original property that grossed $352 million on a $75 million budget last year - into another lucrative brand, having just set a 2016 release date for the sequel, Now You See Me 2 (which looks to be the official title after all).
Now You See Me 2 will pickup with the magician group known as the Four Horsemen (once again played by Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, and Woody Harrelson) as they embark upon a new adventure, as based on a script by Now You See Me co-screenwriter Ed Solomon and scribe Pete Chiarelli (The Proposal).
Variety is reporting that Mark Ruffalo is also set to return for the sequel, as are both Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, but makes no mention of Mélanie Laurent reprising as Interpol agent Alma Dray in Now You See Me 2. Meanwhile, Now You See Me director Louis Leterrier has been replaced by Jon M. Chu (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) on the followup, which is on course to begin production by either late 2014 or early 2015 (not this month, as was previously reported), in order to make a June 10th, 2016 release date.
Sony's Uncharted video game movie is the only other title currently set for release on the same day as Now You See Me 2; despite overlap in their target audiences, the two films ought to be able to coexist peacefully enough at the box office. 2016 in general is looking decent for Lionsgate financially, which is good news since, outside of Divergent and no doubt Mockingjay - Part 1 this fall, 2014 will go down as a real dud year for the studio, as far as the box office goes (see: The Legend of Hercules, I, Frankenstein, Draft Day, The Expendables 3).
Elsewhere, on the non-franchise related news front, Lionsgate has set a release date for the upcoming comedy Dirty Grandpa - and no, it's not a sequel to the Jackass film Bad Grandpa. The project is described as a comedy, starring Rober De Niro as an rough-edged ex-army general who gets to know his grandson (Zac Efron) while they go on a road trip together. The project was penned by John Phillips (who also wrote an as-yet unused script for Bad Santa 2) and has Dan Mazer (the co-writer of Borat and Brüno) directing, so it's probably safe to assume that Dirty Grandpa will be an R-Rated affair.
Dirty Grandpa is set to hit theaters on Christmas Day 2015 - the same day such films as Mission: Impossible 5 and the western/thriller The Revenant are due to arrive. De Niro's movie will have competition in the comedy section from the Tina Fey/Amy Poehler laughfest The Nest, which opens a week earlier. Dirty Grandpa is also going to have to try and carve a slice of the box office pie for itself when such movies as Star Wars: Episode VII and Kung Fu Panda 3 are also playing in theaters.
Will Dirty Grandpa survive the box office brawl - or will it fail to leave a dent, like Grudge Match (another De Niro comedy) in last year's Winter Holiday season? For the time being, the latter scenario seems more likely, though pairing De Niro with Efron (who's coming off the hit comedy Neighbors) could lead to a (slightly) better outcome. We'll see, of course.
Dirty Grandpa opens in U.S. theaters on December 25th, 2015, followed by Now You See Me 2 on June 10th, 2016.