Lionsgate is a fast-expanding "mini-major" movie and TV production and distribution company with a growing presence in the US cable TV sector. It produces and distributes its own movies, as well as third-party releases, offering an intriguing selection of arthouse and mass-market titles mixed with "genre" horror pictures. In 2012, it launched the first movie of the Hunger Games series, which proved to be one of the top-grossing films of the year; three further installments followed. The biggest, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, grossed $865m worldwide. These were followed by another set of young adult novel adaptations, the Divergent series, which proved significantly less popular. Other hits include The Expendables franchise and magic-based thriller Now You See Me, as well as the enormously lucrative Saw and Tyler Perry's Madea franchises. In 2012, the company absorbed rival indie Summit Entertainment, former home of the Twilight series. La La Land, released in early 2017, is the company's most critically acclaimed release to-date, and its biggest commercial hit outside Hunger Games and its other "young adult" releases with a global gross of almost $450m. Family drama Wonder was another commercial success in 2017, grossing over $300m worldwide. In TV, the company produces several critically acclaimed shows including Mad Men, Orange Is The New Black, Anger Management and Nurse Jackie. In 2016, the group paid $4.4bn for pay TV channel Starz, which has 24m subscribers in the US, in a deal engineered by investor extraordinaire John Malone. The company still has a stake in cable channel Pop (co-owned by CBS), but sold its stake in what is now a rival service, Epix, back to partners Viacom and MGM for a large profit. Jon Feltheimer is CEO, and has led the company since 2000. Boosted by the addition of Starz, revenues for the year to March 2018 jumped 28% to $4.1bn. The group is seen as a potential takeover target for another corporate keen to jump into the media sector. During 2018 it held talks with toymaker Hasbro, but these ended without a deal. Hedge fund MHR is Lionsgate's biggest shareholder with 18%; its principal Mark Rachesky is Lionsgate's chairman.
Capsule checked 18th December 2018
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Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Jan 2017: Last weekend's Golden Globes ceremony kicked off the 2017 Awards season, and earned Netflix its most prestigious accolade to-date. Lavish royal series The Crown was named Best Television Drama, while Claire Foy, playing Queen Elizabeth, collected the trophy for Best Actress in drama. It was Netflix' first ever Best Drama award from any major organisation, and is unlikely to be the last, with The Crown firmly on-course to pick up a shelf full of other accolades before the year is out. Despite more nominations than any other TV producer, HBO went home empty-handed. In movies, La La Land, from mini-major Lionsgate, set a new record for wins at the Golden Globes, taking home the trophy in every major category for which it was nominated: seven in all. The previous record holder was Midnight Express, way back in 1979, with six trophies. Since then, no film has received more than four.
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th July 2016: Voracious investor John Malone - a man with not just fingers but both whole hands in multiple different media pies - pulled off a long-simmering deal to merge movie and TV mini-major Lions Gate entertainment with pay-TV channel Starz. Malone is the largest shareholder in Starz, the #3 premium cable or streaming channel after Netflix and HBO, and a board director and 3% shareholder in Lions Gate, best known for The Hunger Games movies and Orange Is The New Black TV show. Lions Gate will acquire Starz for $4.4bn, and is expected to surrender its 31% stake in smaller rival Epix, co-owned by Viacom and Time Warner. Malone continues to be the controlling shareholder in US-based investor Liberty Media, its sister company Liberty Broadband which controls newly enlarged cable giant Charter Communications, and international cousin Liberty Global (which owns Virgin Media etc), as well as channel owner Discovery Communications. Seriously, how much media can one man consume?
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Nov 2015: Mini-major entertainment studio Lionsgate - whose final Hunger Games installment is out now - forged closer ties to media and telecoms investor John Malone. The company sold small parcels of its equity to Liberty Global and Discovery Communications, two other media groups in which Malone is the controlling investor. Each acquired a 3.4% stake for $195m. "This agreement creates tremendous strategic opportunities to grow our content initiatives around the world," said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer. Malone is also said to be attempting to engineer a merger of Lionsgate with cable channel Starz in which he also controls a sizeable shareholding. Starz already has a 3.4% stake in Lionsgate as a result of a deal earlier this year.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th Oct 2015: Veteran investor John Malone is still on the prowl for US media deals. He is currently engineering a merger of cable movie channel Starz with Lionsgate, the mini-major entertainment studio that controls the Hunger Games and Divergent movie franchises and TV series Orange Is The New Black and Mad Men. Malone was already an investor in Starz, and acquired a stake in Lionsgate earlier this year through a stock swap. He is reported to be backing a merger of the two company under Lionsgate's management, but with a key role for Starz' leader Chris Albrecht, himself the former head of HBO.
Adbrands Weekly Update 9th Jan 2014: Movie studios enjoyed another record year in the US in 2013, with total box office gross edging up just under 1% to $10.92bn, despite several well-publicised flops. Attendance figures were more or less level with the previous year at 1.36bn tickets sold. Arguably the biggest overall success of the year was The Hunger Games sequel, which managed to accumulate an extraordinary $407.5m in little more than a single month, making it the #2 movie overall behind Iron Man 3, which took four months to achieve a US gross of $409m. Only two of the Top Ten moves - Frozen and Gravity - were original material rather than sequels or adaptations, although there were eight originals in all among the Top 20. (That was somewhat better than the six original movies in 2012's Top 20 and just two in 2011). Warner Bros was the overall champion by box-office with a total US gross of $1.86bn from 25 movies. Disney's Buena Vista held second place with $1.71bn from just 10 releases. Sony came 4th, despite the fact that its most popular release, Grown Ups 2, only just scraped into the Top 20. Worldwide, Disney's Iron Man 3 was the single biggest release of the year with total global gross of $1.2bn, followed by Universal's Despicable Me 2 ($919m) and Lions Gate's Hunger Games: Catching Fire ($831m).
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