Founding Lionsgate Investor to Fund Thunderbird Films
Canadian businessman Frank Guistra moved from mining to movies to television as he prepares to help the Vancouver company develop a bigger small screen presence.
Canadian businessman Frank Giustra, who has made millions in the mining business and was one of the founding investors in Lionsgate, has purchased a substantial interest in Thunderbird Films of Vancouver, with the intent to ramp it up as a TV production and distribution company, according to an announcement by CEO Tim Gamble and president Michael Shepard.
They would not say how much he is investing or what percentage of the company Giustra will own, only that it will provide funds to significantly build the TV business.
"Thunderbird will now have access to sufficient capital to focus on becoming a prominent entity in the production and distribution of television programming,” says Giustra, “with a special emphasis on rights management.”
Until now Thunderbird (which is in the process of changing its name) has been known for rights management – which means finding distribution for existing programming – as well as financing and packaging programming for distribution themselves. They have more than 400 hours of TV shows in their library. Their shows include Mr. Young, a series about a child prodigy which airs on Disney XD in the U.S. and on a network in Canada; End Game, which is shown on Hulu; and the Davinci Inquest, which was syndicated in the U.S.
“By providing producers with advances, we’re able to guide them into finance and production opportunities and continue to be flexible with distribution agreements, all of which opens the door to greater possibilities,” said Shepard.
Thunderbird also owns 50% of the 1982 movie Blade Runner, an interest they acquired from Jerrold Perenchio. The other half is owned by Perenchio’s former partner Bud Yorkin. A new version of Blade Runner is now being developed by Alcon Entertainment with original director Ridley Scott attached. It is expected to be released eventually by Warner Bros., where Alcon has an output deal.
Giustra in the 1990s was President and later Chairman and CEO of Yorkton Securities, which successfully invested in mining around the world. In 1997, he founded Lionsgate, where he was Chairman until 2003. He returned to Lionsgate’s Board of Directors in 2010.
Currently, Giustra is President and CEO of Fiore Financial Corporation, which is an advisor to Endeavour Mining Corporation. Giustra also serves as Chairman and President of Fiore Capital Corporation, which manages private equity investments.
He is also known for his charitable giving through his Radcilffe Foundation. He donated $31-million to former president Bill Clinton's foundation in 2006 and joined him to launch the charitable Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative fund in the summer of 2007. At the time, Giustra pledged $100-million to the new foundation as well as half of his future earnings. In 2010, Giustra joined with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim and President Clinton to create a $20 million fund to finance small businesses in Haiti after the big earthquake. He remains on the board of Clinton’s Foundation.