Music offers scores of options at Lionsgate

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Jon Feltheimer and Michael Burns continue to take their little indie film company that could to a higher level.

Lionsgate has grown from a market cap of $30 million in 2000 to $1.4 billion this year, according to the company. And the momentum keeps building, especially with the recent acquisition of indie film company Mandate Pictures and Lionsgate's stake in Roadside Attractions.

Through it all, music remains a top priority. Lionsgate not only is interested in soundtracks and scores for its TV and film properties but also is building a music publishing company and signing acts. This offers yet another solid alternative business model for artists: sign a publishing deal with Lionsgate and get first crack at getting into the film and TV business. Film and TV are the new radio, right? And Lionsgate gets some return on its huge marketing investment on music. The company is so bullish about music publishing that it is seeking catalog-acquisition opportunities.

"We are looking for strategic fits; we are serious about making bids," says Jay Faires, president of music and publishing at Lionsgate. "We have over 1,000 syncs a year that we have to fill. With music publishing, we can creatively service our film and TV slate with music. It's a two-way street with artists and managers because of the marketing value they get off of working with us."

And Lionsgate also is simply putting good old-fashioned original music into its properties.

For example, "Good Luck Chuck," which opens Friday, has new music from the Flaming Lips, the Dandy Warhols and the Honorary Title. The recently released "War" has new music from Dr. Dre, RZA and Mark Batson. Faires says the upcoming films "Bachelor No. 2," "Spirit," "Addicted" and the "Punisher" sequel will be music-driven. He's even looking into single-artist deals for some projects; think Sondre Lerche and "Dan in Real Life."

On the TV side, the acclaimed new AMC series "Madmen" has a soundtrack in the works with music from Vic Damone, Percy Faith, the Andrews Sisters, Ella Fitzgerald, Astrud Gilberto and Rosemary Clooney. Lionsgate also recently closed a deal to turn best picture Oscar winner "Crash" into a TV series. Faires says the music opportunities with that are endless.

The company also is staffing up its music department, including DreamWorks alum Lenny Wohl and Karen Rodriguez from Windswept.

"We want to find artists to work within our model," Faires says. "With over 20 films a year and 10 TV shows, I think its a great opportunity for the right artist."
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