Lionsgate teams with Grupo Televisa


TORONTO -- Canadian producer Lionsgate on Monday unveiled a pact with Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisia to co-produce movies and TV series, among other joint pursuits.

The deal will help open the Latin American market up to Vancouver-based Lionsgate, which has already penetrated major English-speaking markets like the U.K. and Australia with self-distribution operations.

The Canadian producer also said it is set up well to weather a possibly prolonged Hollywood writers strike.

"I can't even predict what will happen at this point. We're pretty well locked and loaded, particularly in the film business, to prepare for a long strike," Lionsgate co-chairman and CEO Jon Feltheimer said.

On the TV front, a long strike could "hurt the economics" from Weeds" for Showtime" and "Mad Men" for AMC, he added.

Also on the TV side, Lionsgate has an eye on expanding internationally FEARnet, its multiplatform hybrid channel with Comcast and Sony Pictures Television, and other channel opportunities, especially in Asia. "We're looking at India and China in terms of some funds we could raise and grow some interesting opportunities in those places," Feltheimer said.

Lionsgate, free from debt and forecast to have $300 million in cash at year's end, has not ruled out acquisitions. "There's some pressure from shareholders in not carrying too much cash," Feltheimer said.

Lionsgate on Friday posted a fiscal second-quarter loss of $56.2 million, compared to a loss of $14.4 million a year ago, due to a $122.5 million P&A expense (HR, Nov. 12). The P&A spend for "3:10 to Yuma" alone rose from a projected $27.5 million to $38 million to accommodate an Oscar campaign.

Feltheimer told analysts that "Yuma," "War," "Good Luck Chuck," "Saw IV" and "Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?" will eventually gross an aggregate $230 million at the boxoffice and pay off nicely.