Lionsgate Film, Distribution Chiefs Talk Possible Studio Business Spinoff, Starz Rebrand
Lionsgate haven’t revealed any megadeals, but top executives from the Hollywood studio discussed the potential benefits of possibly spinning off its studio business at an investor conference on Wednesday.
“It’s definitely going help every part of the ecosystem, not just an individual franchise like Hunger Games or John Wick ,“,” Packer said to the Wells Fargo TMT Summit in a webcast session. Packer, who has recently inked licensing deals for the upcoming John Wick TV origin story The Continental at Peacock, the comedy Ghosts at Paramount and Schitt’s Creek at Hulu, insisted the studio will be able to continuing selling titles to a host of streaming platforms, and not just Starz, as the traditional premium cable channel pivots to the streaming space.
Joe Drake, chairman of Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group said that there would be no disruption to his film division as the studio investigates its options for Starz. This includes a possible separation between the studio operations and the streaming and pay TV business. The goal seems to be to create two separate companies so that investors can evaluate the Starz assets and studio assets separately.
“I don’t think we’re going to operate that way.” Drake stated that it will give everyone real visibility into the studio’s activities and the value it creates. Like other Lionsgate executives, he and Packer renewed their long-term contracts. This is as Lionsgate explores the possibility of spinning off its studio business. It renamed its StarzPlay streaming platform Lionsgate in a number of markets outside the U.S .
Starz is being considered by some potential suitors, but others are considering Lionsgate and its programming collection as an option to acquire indie studios as digital giants like Amazon and Apple push into Hollywood. Packer said that Lionsgate has more opportunities to sell its content globally due to the rise of ad supported streaming platforms.
He also noted a slight dip in streamers’ acquisition budgets recently. Packer reported that there was some trimming.
Drake stated that the studio continues to weigh the strengths of streaming and multiplex platforms when it comes time to commercially launching movies. Drake stated, “Because we still believe in the theatrical space and because Jim and his staff can sell to anyone in the world and to every strategy and we are not beholden by our pipeline, we are able to flexe and do all things.”
Packer also pointed out that Apple TV is now buying movie products from outside suppliers, Amazon continuing its MGM library purchase, and Netflix needing product to stream its ad-supported streaming service. This suggests that Lionsgate will continue seeing a strong market among streamers for its TV and film content.
Packer stated that if the ad product is successful, which I believe it will, because Netflix is a smart company and they’ll figure out, I think they’re going want more of their content ad-friendly. That’s a new revenue source we haven’t really tapped into yet.”
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