Lionsgate (or sometimes Lions Gate) is a "mini-major" movie and TV production and distribution company with a foothold in the US cable TV sector. However, it has begun to find itself outflanked by larger competitors in a rapidly consolidating industry. The company is best-known for producing and distributing 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 and John Wick franchises 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. After a weak 2018 - A Simple Favour was its biggest hit at $98m globally - John Wick 3 and Knives Out were considerably more successful in 2019 with global grosses of $327m and $300m respectively. In TV, the company has produced several critically acclaimed shows including Mad Men, Orange Is The New Black, Anger Management and Nurse Jackie. Recent shows have been rather less notable. In 2016, the group paid $4.4bn for pay TV channel Starz in a deal engineered by investor extraordinaire John Malone. A rival to WarnerMedia's HBO and CBS's Showtime, it has around 25m subscribers in the US. The company sold its stake in what is now a rival service, Epix, back to partners Viacom and MGM for a large profit; and also its 50% stake in cable channel Pop to partner CBS. Jon Feltheimer is CEO of Lionsgate, and has led the company since 2000. Revenues for the year to March 2019 were $3.7bn. Movies and media networks (ie Starz) each accounted for around 40% of revenues and TV production for the rest. However, financial expenses and the shortage of hit movies resulted in a net loss of $300m. The group is weighed down by significant financial expenses. It has been seen for several years 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 19%; its principal Mark H Rachesky is Lionsgate's chairman.
Capsule checked 18th December 2018
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Adbrands Daily Update 13th Mar 2019: CBS added to its cable portfolio by buying out Lionsgate from their 50/50 cable joint venture Pop. The channel mostly runs repeats of sitcoms and the occasional drama, but has gained a wider following with the original series 'Schitt's Creek', something of a cult hit, and 'Flack'. Though available in around 70m homes in the US, Pop's audience is still small, only around 150,000 prime-time viewers.
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.
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