Saban Films has purchased distribution rights to an interesting new IP: sci-fi thriller Guns Akimbo, starring Daniel Radcliffe. The movie has already premiered at a Toronto Film festival, and Saban Films holds the right to distribute it in North America.
It’s impossible to predict how the movie will fare upon its release, but the star power behind it and the interesting script seem well-geared towards a young audience.
Jason Lei Howden wrote and directed the film, which tells the story of a nerdy video game developer participating in an illegal, live-streamed deathmatch. The key cast is rounded out by Samara Weaving, Rhys Darby, Natasha Liu Bordizzo and Ned Dennehy, and is produced by Four Knights Film’s Tom Hern.
The main draw to the movie is Radcliffe himself, who plays a leading role. He brings his unique skills to the screen and is well-suited to the protagonist’s nerdy yet earnest vibe.
It’s never easy to nail down the intended audience for a film, especially when it’s unclear what niche market the film will find. However, in this case, the topic is gaming and streaming, so it will likely garner a younger more tech-savvy audience. There’s quite a lot of drama in the streaming and gaming community, and few films seek to speak to that audience in an authentic or relatable way.
At this point, the distribution deal covers only North American markets: dictated by negotiations between Saban Films and Endeavor: a company representing filmmakers in regards to their rights within US markets. The deal says nothing about international distribution, and international rights have not yet been secured.
Altiuted Film Sales is the distribution company that will represent the filmmakers when it comes to negations concerning international distribution rights. As of now, no settlements regarding international rights have been made public. The most coveted international market is likely China, which has a large gaming fanbase.
Saban Films is a part of the Saban Investment Group: a larger parent media company focused on multiple types of media besides film. The company has been in operation since 2014. Their main work is in the acquisition and distribution of films in North America. They work in conjunction with Lionsgate, a studio partner. Lionsgate was established by Haim Saban and is operated by Bill Bromelly.
Since it has yet to be released in North America, reception is hard to gauge. Reviews from film critics and the small audience present at the Toronto premiere are currently all we have to go by. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 71% score, and Metacritic has given it a score of 43 out of 100. Certainly “mixed reviews”, but the results are based on only four reviews from those who have seen the film thus far.
Jason Lei Howden
The movie is directed by Jason Lei Howden. His career is an interesting and unusual one. Guns Akimbo is his first film credit as director, but he is hardly a novice in the industry. Howden has worked on some of the decade’s biggest blockbusters, such as visual effects artist for War of the Planet of the Apes. He worked in the same role on Avengers and penned the screenplay for Deathgasm.