Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., doing business as Lionsgate, is an American entertainment company. It was formed on July 10, 1997, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and is currently headquartered in Santa Monica, California, United States.
In addition to its flagship Lionsgate Films division, which generated the seventh-highest gross revenue in North America in 2015, the company contains other divisions such as Lionsgate Television and Lionsgate Interactive. It owns a variety of subsidiaries such as Summit Entertainment, Debmar-Mercury, and Starz Inc.
Lionsgate was formed in 1997 by Frank Giustra with a $16 million investment including another $40 million from other investors which included Keyur Patel and Yorkton Securities' executives such as G. Scott Paterson. Giustra had recently retired as CEO from Yorkton, an investment bank, and Paterson was then president. Giustra then merged Lionsgate with Toronto Stock Exchange listed Beringer Gold Corp. (founded in 1986) to take the company public. Beringer's mining assets were soon sold off.
Lionsgate then began a series of acquisitions to get into the film industry. The company bought a number of small production facilities and distributors, starting with Montreal-based Cinépix Film Properties (renamed as Lions Gate Films) and North Shore Studios (renamed Lions Gate Studios) in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mandalay Television was acquired by Lionsgate from Peter Guber for a 4% Lionsgate stake. In 1998, Lionsgate helped Guber form Mandalay Pictures with a 45% investment in Mandalay. Lionsgate followed that up with a June purchase of International Movie Group, Inc. (IMG), a bankrupt film distributor previously invested in by Guber and Yorktown Securities, for its film library. IMG's CEO Peter Strauss became President of Lions Gate Entertainment, Inc. (LGE), the American parent company for Lionsgate's U.S. interests. The Lions Gate Media subsidiary was also formed to produce for television.
Completing its first year of operation, Lionsgate had revenue of $42.2 million with loss of $397,000. The company share price dropped to a low of $1.40. This limited the corporation's ability to make acquisitions via stock swaps. Lionsgate instead made its next acquisition of Termite Art Productions, a reality-based television production company, for $2.75 million by issuing three convertible promissory notes. Giustra had the shareholders vote to move the company's public listing from the Toronto Stock Exchange to the American Stock Exchange, along with a two-for-one stock consolidation to qualify, for greater exposure that might boost share value.
In January 1999, Roman Doroniuk was named president and chief operating officers of Lionsgate, which led to the corporation's financial operations being moved in April to Doroniuk's offices in Toronto, Ontario while corporate headquarters remained in Vancouver, British Columbia. Lionsgate created US based Avalanche Films and acquired half of Sterling Home Entertainment, both in video sales. Again, Lionsgate registered losses in its second year of $9.3 million on revenues of $78.3 million with most of the losses were from its stake in Mandalay Pictures. Thus in the summer, Lionsgate placed its studios up for sale with no buyers. TV operations were changed to non-network hourlong series over riskier network shows and ended its relationship with Mandalay Television. The corporation sought out more capital and cash with a filing of a preliminary prospectus for the sale of preferred stock and common stock warrants and a $13.4 million line of credit.
Lionsgate increases and new CEO
Additional acquisition funding arrived in January 2000 as a $33.1 million investment from an investor group that included Paul Allen, former Sony Pictures executive Jon Feltheimer, German broadcasting company Tele-Munchen, and SBS Broadcasting SA. This led to Feltheimer taking over as CEO from Giustra thus the passed over Doroniuk left the company. Feltheimer increased film making including several $1 million films at Avalanche. However, Federgreen still remains one of the major owners of the company and is extremely involved in the making of all their major movies. In June, Lionsgate acquired Trimark Holdings, Inc. for approximately $50 million in stock and cash including taking on $36 million in debt.
Lionsgate continued making acquisitions during the decade to boost distribution and its film library. On December 15, 2003, Lionsgate acquired Artisan Entertainment for $220 million. In 2004, Erik Nelson reacquired Termite Art and renamed it to Creative Differences.
Lionsgate partnered with Panamax Films in 2005 to make movies for the Latino market which only produced two films. On April 13, 2005, Lionsgate spun off its Canadian distribution unit into a new distribution unit called Maple Pictures under the direction of two former Lionsgate executives, Brad Pelman and Laurie May. On August 1, 2005, Lions Gate Entertainment acquired the entire library of Modern Entertainment, the U.S. film division of the Swedish television company Modern Times Group. On October 17, 2005, Lionsgate acquired UK company Redbus Film Distribution for $35 million and became Lionsgate UK on February 23, 2006.
On March 15, 2006, Lionsgate sold Lionsgate Studios to Bosa Development Corporation. On July 12, Lionsgate purchased Debmar-Mercury, an independent television distributor, which has continued operations as a Lionsgate subsidiary. The company agreed in August to lease term with New Mexico State Land Office and the city of Rio Rancho for a new 52.8 acres studio near Rio Rancho's under construction city center and arena.
On July 26, 2007, Lionsgate bought a partial stake in independent film distribution company Roadside Attractions. Lionsgate started up Lionsgate Music by June 2007. On September 10, 2007, Lionsgate bought Mandate Pictures for $56.3 million, $44.3 million in cash and $12 million in stock, and taking on $6.6 million of Mandate's debt. Mandate Chief Executive Joe Drake returned to the company as co-chief operating officer of its film unit.
By July 2008, Lionsgate has not made any progress on building its new film studio in Rio Rancho or on setting up the corporation to run the studio per its agreement with New Mexico. In November, Lionsgate Music established a joint venture with music publishing company Wind-up Records.
In January 2009, Lionsgate purchased TV Guide Network and TVGuide.com from Rovi for $255 million cash. In May 2009, Lionsgate sold a 49% stake in TV Guide Network and website to One Equity Partners under pressure from shareholder Carl Icahn.
Lionsgate cut back its slate of films per year by four in February 2009. In April, Relativity Media signed with Lionsgate for a 5 picture per year multi-year film distribution. In August, Lionsgate signed with Redbox for a five-year same day release deal worth $158 million. Lionsgate, along with MGM and Paramount Pictures/Viacom, was also a co-owner of Epix, a pay TV movie channel which debuted on October 30.
Lionsgate announced on January 13, 2012, that it had acquired Summit Entertainment, producers and distributors of the Twilight Saga films, for $412.5 million. The two companies have planned on merging since 2008. On October 6, 2012, Lions Gate Entertainment announced that Brian Goldsmith became the co-COO of the company and joining co-COO Steve Beeks. On November 18, 2012, Lionsgate announced it has passed over the $1 billion mark for the first time with the success of The Hunger Games and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.
On December 23, 2013, Lionsgate announced they have crossed over $1 billion domestically and internationally for the 2nd year in a row with the success of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Now You See Me, Instructions Not Included, and Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain.
On April 14, 2014, Comcast acquired the remaining stakes in Fearnet from LGF and Sony Pictures Entertainment. On April 21, 2014, Lionsgate announced that they will merge its movie marketing operations. A few days later, on April 30, Lionsgate announced that the studios will expand into the gaming development.
On February 11, 2015, John C. Malone swapped a 4.5% stake with 14.5% of the voting power in Starz Inc. for 3.4% of Lionsgate's shares while joining the company's board of directors. Fourteen days later, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht hinted a possible merger with Lionsgate.
On April 1, 2015, according to Deadline, Lionsgate announced it has created its new label, Lionsgate Premiere. This new label will handle up to 15 releases a year, targeting young audiences at theaters and digital outlets. The new label, part of the company's diversification effort, will incorporate Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment titles (including the Step Up film series and the Red film series) and then specialize in "innovative multiplatform and other release strategies" to reach "affinity audiences with branded content and targeted marketing." Marketing and Research SVP Jean McDowell will handle marketing, with distribution to be run by Adam Sorensen, who currently manages Western Sales.
On November 10, 2015, Malone's two other companies, Liberty Global and Discovery Communications (now Discovery, Inc.), made a joint investment of $195–400 million in Lionsgate and acquired a 3.4% stake in the company. Then on June 30, 2016, Lionsgate agreed to acquire Starz Inc. for $4.4 billion in cash and stock. As of December 2016, it became the parent company of Starz Inc.
On November 12, 2015, Lionsgate created a partnership with Armenian American television producer Craig Piligian when the studio acquired more than 50% of his Pilgrim Studios company worth $200 million. Piligian retained his position as CEO of the company while Pilgrim will continue to operate independently under Piligian. The deal made Lionsgate a major unscripted player.
On July 13, 2016, Lionsgate acquired a minority stake in British unscripted television production startup company Primal Media. It was launched by Matt Steiner and Adam Wood, who originally launched Gogglebox Entertainment that was acquired by Sony Pictures Television.
On December 15, 2017, the weekly US financial newspaper Barron's revealed that Malone was selling nearly 108,000 class B shares in Lionsgate for $3.2 million, or $29.63 each, from December 4 to 13. Malone now owns directly and indirectly 6 million nonvoting class B shares, as well as beneficially about 6 million class A shares, which carry one vote each.
In January 2018, it was reported that Lionsgate was being subject to a bidding war for a possible acquisition, with Amazon.com, CBS Corporation, Comcast, Verizon Communications, and Viacom having made offers.
Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns has stated in an interview with CNBC that Lionsgate is mostly interested in merging with CBS and Viacom. Viacom and Lionsgate were both interested in acquiring The Weinstein Company.
On February 27, 2018, a month after the bidding war announcement, Variety reported in a detailed article that toy manufacturing company Hasbro (which had collaborated with the company in the 2017 film My Little Pony: The Movie via its Allspark Pictures theatrical film financing unit which is in turn owned by its Allspark division) came close to also acquiring Lionsgate, but the deal fell through.
The distribution of selected recent non-in-house films for pay-per-view and on-demand are under the supervision of NBCUniversal Television Distribution under Universal Pictures (Universal formerly held home video and television rights to many of the early Lionsgate films), while all others (particularly the in-house films) are distributed for both cable and broadcast television through Lionsgate's syndicated division.
Aside from home video distribution of films sub-licensed from other studios, Lionsgate's library consists of its own in-house productions, as well as films from Summit Entertainment and several defunct studios, including Trimark Pictures (acquired in 2000), Artisan Entertainment (acquired in 2003), Overture Films (Starz's former feature film division whose library Lionsgate acquired after the 2016 Starz merger), Hearst Entertainment, Tribune Entertainment, Zoetrope Corporation (with certain exceptions), and Vestron Pictures (acquired by Artisan in 1991). Their complete ownership depends on the worldwide regions of license.
Lionsgate has a home video library of more than 13,000 films with all of the former Artisan Entertainment releases (many the result of output deals with other defunct studios such as Vestron Pictures), including such titles as Dirty Dancing, Earth Girls Are Easy, Army of One, Total Recall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the Rambo series. Lionsgate also distributes select NBC programs such as Will & Grace, Little House on the Prairie and The Biggest Loser; Mattel's Barbie-branded videos and Clifford the Big Red Dog videos from the Scholastic Corporation and was also the former home video distributor of HIT Entertainment titles, including Barney & Friends, Thomas & Friends, and Fraggle Rock.
Video properties currently owned by Lionsgate Home Entertainment include those from Family Home Entertainment, Vestron Video, Lightning Video (a former Vestron company), and Magnum Entertainment. Lionsgate also has a home video deal with StudioCanal in the US on selected titles in their library (most of which were previously released by Anchor Bay Entertainment).
Lionsgate Interactive Ventures and Games
Lionsgate Interactive Ventures and Games is the video game development division of Lionsgate. It was created in April 2014 and is headed by Nerdist Industries co-founder Peter Levin. This division is dedicated to producing and distributing multiplatform games based on Lionsgate franchises, and investing in digital businesses.
Lionsgate Entertainment World
Lionsgate Entertainment World is an indoor interactive experience centre based on Lionsgate's blockbuster films, such as The Hunger Games, The Divergent Series and Now You See Me, is set to open on Hengqin, Zhuhai, China in the first half of 2019. The Lionsgate project is an investment by Hong Kong conglomerate Lai Sun Group and designed and produced by Thinkwell Group.
Lionsgate Television produced such series as Nashville, Anger Management, The Dead Zone, 5ive Days to Midnight, Weeds, Nurse Jackie, Boss, Tyler Perry's House of Payne and the Emmy Award-winning Mad Men. Lionsgate also acquired TV syndication firm Debmar-Mercury in 2006 with CBS Television Distribution handling ad-sales with the exception for Meet the Browns, as the ad-sales are handled by Disney–ABC Domestic Television and Turner Television co-distributing the series. In March 2013, Lionsgate signed with Mars One (a Dutch nonprofit with space agency and aerospace backers intent on colonizing Mars) to produce a reality TV show. In August 2018, Lionsgate signed a first-look television development agreement with Universal Music Group.
The company owns Starz, a premium-tier cable network, and related channels including Starz Encore, and Movieplex. In addition, Lionsgate also co-owns Celestial Tiger Entertainment with Saban Capital Group and Celestial Pictures.
- Lionsgate Films (Lionsgate Motion Picture Group)
- Lionsgate Premiere
- Summit Entertainment
- Summit Premiere
- Summit Entertainment Records
- International Distribution Company, LLC (joint venture with Pedro Rodriguez)
- Pantelion Films (50% with Televisa)
- Roadside Attractions (45%)
- Grindstone Entertainment Group
- Studio L
- Globalgate Entertainment (joint venture with Televisa (Mexico), Tobis Film (Germany), Nordisk Film (Denmark), TME Films (Turkey), Gaumont Film Company (France), Lotte Entertainment (South Korea), Belga Films (Belgium), PKDN Films (Japan), Paris Filmes (Brazil), Cine Colombia (Colombia) and Rai Cinema (Italy))
- Good Universe
- Lionsgate Home Entertainment
- Lionsgate UK
- Elevation Sales (joint venture with StudioCanal UK)
- Primal Media
- Potboiler Television (joint venture with Potboiler Productions)
- Lionsgate India
- Lionsgate Interactive Ventures and Games
- Lionsgate Global Franchise Management
- Lionsgate Music
- Starz Networks
- Pantaya (joint venture with Hemisphere Media Group)
- Laugh Out Loud (joint venture with HartBeat Digital)
- Tribeca Shortlist (joint venture with Tribeca Enterprises)
- Celestial Tiger Entertainment (joint venture with Celestial Pictures and Saban Capital Group)
- Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Anchor Bay Films
- Video Treasures
- Burbank Video
- Artisan Entertainment
- Codeblack Films
- Comic-Con HQ
- Defy Media (19%)
- Epix - Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer acquired Lionsgate's stake in the network in 2017
- Epix Drive-In
- Epix Hits
- Family Home Entertainment
- Fearnet - NBCUniversal acquired Lionsgate's stake in the network in 2013
- Film Roman - acquired by Waterman Entertainment in 2015; pre-2014 library retained by Starz
- Mandalay Pictures (1997-2002)
- Mandate Pictures
- Maple Pictures
- Modern Entertainment
- Overture Films
- Pacific International Enterprises
- Pop - 50% stake; sold to co-owner CBS Corporation in 2019
- Prism Pictures
- Starz Distribution
- Termite Art Productions
- Trimark Pictures
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