New Alliance Launching With R.J. Cutler Deal, Dennis Lehane And Getty Kidnapping Projects, Will Continue To Diversify Lionsgate TV Slate
SANTA MONICA, Calif. and VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 13, 2012 /CNW/ - Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF), a leading global entertainment company, announced today that it is teaming with global financier and philanthropist Frank Giustra, who founded Lionsgate and served as its Chairman for six years, and his Thunderbird Films television production, distribution and financing company in a television partnership to produce programming for broadcast and cable networks as part of the ongoing diversification of Lionsgate's television business.
The new venture, called Sea To Sky Entertainment, will generate a broad range of scripted programming for mainstream commercial audiences designed to have resonance with U.S. and Canadian viewers alike. Lionsgate and Thunderbird will jointly manage Sea To Sky, which is designed to share production and distribution costs for any series picked up by the television networks, allowing the two parties to cofund network television programming while mitigating risk.
Sea To Sky already has several projects in the pipeline and will encompass the development and production deal with prolific Emmy Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated reality producer and documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler (THE WAR ROOM, AMERICAN HIGH, BLACK WHITE) that Lionsgate and Cutler announced two weeks ago. Lionsgate is already teaming with Cutler and Academy Award-winning writer Callie Khouri on NASHVILLE, a steamy ABC drama about love, country music, family, politics and sex set in Nashville.
Sea To Sky also has optioned the rights to the upcoming book "An Uncommon Youth," a riveting first person account of the events and family dysfunction surrounding the Getty kidnapping in Italy in the 1970's. Veteran producer Anne Thomopoulos will shepherd the project as a limited series for international coproduction.
In addition, the new venture will develop a one-hour drama from American master Dennis Lehane, the author of MYSTIC RIVER, which was made into an Academy Award winning-movie, and GONE BABY GONE, adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film.
"We are delighted to be reunited with our old friend and founder Frank Giustra," said Lionsgate Chief Executive Officer Jon Feltheimer. "Frank has had a tremendous impact in the financial community worldwide as well as in the realm of global philanthropy, and we believe that he can have a significant influence in helping the ongoing diversification of our television business as well. Teaming with Frank and Thunderbird will help us explore new strategies for producing programming for the broadcast networks cost-effectively as well as expanding our TV business into other exciting new areas."
"I'm thrilled to return to my Lionsgate roots and partner with Jon Feltheimer, Kevin Beggs and the rest of the Lionsgate team," said Giustra. "They have built Lionsgate's television business almost from scratch to a nearly $400 million-a-year diversified operation since I founded Lionsgate, and I'm pleased to participate in the continued growth of the Company's television business. I have sought to make a difference with all the ventures I have launched, and I hope Sea To Sky will be no exception as Lionsgate and Thunderbird work together to create and deliver exciting television programming to audiences hungry for original content and fresh ideas."
"I'm delighted to reteam with Frank, who was Chairman of Lionsgate when I first joined the Company nearly 15 years ago," said Lionsgate Television Group President Kevin Beggs. "He has always been a visionary in recognizing the potential of new markets, new companies and new ideas. The quality of the talent relationships his new company has already formed for its first wave of projects is testament to the level of programming we believe they can bring to our buyers and the role they can play in the ongoing diversification of our television business."
Thunderbird finances, produces and distributes all genres of television programming for the world market. Mr. Giustra recently announced a significant investment in Thunderbird to become one of its major shareholders and he plans to diversify and expand the company's television business activities. The new television programming partnership with Lionsgate is one of the first initiatives announced.
Thunderbird's catalog is comprised of over 400 hours of Canadian and U.S. television content, and its programming airs on broadcast, cable, online and wireless networks around the globe.
Giustra is President and CEO of Fiore Financial Corporation, an exclusive advisor to Endeavour Mining Corporation. Giustra also serves as Chairman and President of Fiore Capital Corporation, a private financial advisory firm managing a broad portfolio of private equity investments across North America, focusing on investment opportunities where its capital can assist entrepreneurs and management teams to grow their businesses to the next level of success.
Giustra is a strong believer in philanthropy and devotes much of his time to a variety of causes. In 1997, he established The Radcliffe Foundation and holds the position of President. The Radcliffe Foundation supports a wide variety of international and local charities.
In 2007, Giustra and former President Bill Clinton launched the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative (CGSGI), with the focus of creating social and economic development programs in parts of the world where poverty is widespread, including Colombia, Peru and Haiti.
Since 2005, Giustra has become an active executive member and significant contributor to the International Crisis Group, widely recognized as the leading independent, non-partisan source of analysis and advice to policymakers on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict. He is a member of the board of trustees of the William J. Clinton Foundation, the International Crisis Group and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Lionsgate is a leading global entertainment company with a strong and diversified presence in motion picture production and distribution, television programming and syndication, home entertainment, family entertainment, digital distribution. new channel platforms and international distribution and sales. The Company has built a strong television presence in production of prime time cable and broadcast network series, distribution and syndication of programming and an array of channel assets. Lionsgate currently has 15 shows on more than 10 networks spanning its prime time production, distribution and syndication businesses, including such critically-acclaimed hits as the multiple Emmy Award-winning "Mad Men", "Weeds" and "Nurse Jackie" along with the Golden Globe-winning drama "Boss" and the syndication successes "Tyler Perry's House Of Payne", its spinoff "Meet The Browns", "The Wendy Williams Show" and "Are We There Yet?".
Its feature film business has been fueled by such recent successes as THE LINCOLN LAWYER, TYLER PERRY'S MADEA'S BIG HAPPY FAMILY, THE EXPENDABLES, MARGIN CALL, THE LAST EXORCISM and the critically-acclaimed PRECIOUS. With the January 2012 acquisition of Summit Entertainment, the Company now has the two leading young adult franchises – the blockbuster TWILIGHT SAGA, which has grossed more than $2.5 billion at the worldwide box office, and the HUNGER GAMES franchise, whose first film will be released on March 23. Recent Summit hits include RED, LETTERS TO JULIET, KNOWING, the STEP UP franchise and the Academy Award winning Best Picture THE HURT LOCKER.
Lionsgate's home entertainment business is an industry leader in box office-to-DVD and box office-to-VOD revenue conversion rate. Lionsgate handles a prestigious and prolific library of approximately 13,000 motion picture and television titles. The Lionsgate and Summit brands remain synonymous with original, daring, quality entertainment in markets around the world.
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Peter D. Wilkes
For Thunderbird Films
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