Lionsgate Vice Chairman Michael Burns had to disappoint analysts who wanted him to open up about the big question of the day for his company: What’s going on with its reported merger talks with Summit Entertainment? “I’m not going to talk about any specific deal,” he said at the UBS Annual Global Media and Communications Conference. He noted, though, that a consolidation of independent film and TV companies is “a natural thing to happen.” He assured the group that Lionsgate is only interested in deals that add to its value, and don’t require it to either issue stock or take on additional debt. “We’re looking to delever, not lever up,” he says.
With that out of the way, he spoke candidly about the company’s plans for next year where he says “you’ll see us steady state for the first time” cranking out about a dozen movies and about three new TV shows. He’s encouraged about a plan to develop a TV series for ABC based on The Lincoln Lawyer – and Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management. ”I’ve known Charlie a long, long time,” Burns said. “Our goal is to keep Charlie working, keep him healthy — and we have a great partner in FX.” Burns says that a series it’s developing for Read More »
Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer sure talks as though the company’s looking to create a TV channel around Tyler Perry — Tyler TV – even though he says he “can’t comment” on a report about it. He told analysts this morning that “we strongly support” the idea of bringing Perry to “exciting new platforms.” That could include a “not fully distributed (cable) channel that we could buy” or nesting Perry at “a channel we already have. … We have a lot of options if we choose to go down that path.” The New York Times says this morning that the company is considering rebranding its struggling TV Guide Network, buying a channel such as Gospel Broadcasting Network, or teaming with Comcast, which promised federal officials who approved its acquisition of NBCUniversal that it would beef up programming for minority audiences.
Also on the call, Lionsgate executives talked up their plans for The Hunger Games. The first film in what’s likely to be a four-film series completes principal photography on Labor Day weekend ahead of a March 2012 release. But the studio says it won’t release the second film until Thanksgiving 2013 because it wants to take advantage of the big holiday season audiences — and to give itself time to work on the script and marketing plans. The productions won’t necessarily be filmed back-to-back, although there’s a chance that the second and third installments will be. Read More »
Of all the film franchises at Lionsgate, the most financially reliable are Tyler Perry’s. Tolerate his racial stereotyping or not, he’s a money machine for the studio especially when his films star his loathesome female alter ego Madea. That is also why, after his lobbying, Lionsgate released last year’s Precious. Remember how controversial that pic was? Well, trust me: Lionsgate doesn’t begin to understand yet what a PR nightmare will surround its movie For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf because Tyler Perry is at the helm. It starts screening in 2-3 weeks now that the studio recently moved up the release date from 2011 to November 5th. Look, just my reporting last September of Perry’s plan to make the pic elicited some of Deadline’s most vicious attacks on a filmmaker.
Now I’ve learned that even Tyler’s close pal Oprah Winfrey did not want him to make the film version of the iconic 1975 play by Ntozake Shange. And that her reaction echoed the outrage of many black females along the lines of, “How dare you!” because the storyline is profoundly their story, not any man’s, and especially not his. The play is a collection of 20 poems, dealing with love, abandonment, rape, abortion, and more, told by seven different women who are identified only by color. Perry’s version has given names to the women, and is described as a poetic exploration of what is to be of color and a female in … Read More »