Lions Gate Entertainment, a production and distribution company based in Marina Del Ray, U.S., is set to acquire Santa Monica-headquartered Artisan Entertainment for US$160 million plus the assumption of Artisan debt. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of the year, following the approval of closing conditions and anti-trust regulators.
With the agreement only recently announced, neither party is willing to forecast potential job losses or changes to structure once the two entities become one. At press time, Artisan was taking a firm ‘no comment’ stand, and Lions Gate failed to return RealScreen‘s calls. However, redundancies seem inevitable.
Both companies have been active in the non-fiction arena. Lions Gate Films counts director Steve James’s doc Stevie among its stable of film titles, and Lions Gate Television produced No Boundaries, a reality-TV series that was funded mainly by the Ford Motor Company in what some considered a progressive sponsorship package. Last January, Artisan Entertainment joined forces with U.S. pay-TV channel hbo to release Lee Hirsch and Sherry Simpson’s doc Amandla! a revolution in four-part harmony, and has distributed such non-fiction films as Wim Wenders’ Buena Vista Social Club, Paul Justman’s Standing in the Shadows of Motown and Dana Brown’s Step into Liquid.
The U.S. theatrical distrib head count is also down a player in New York. Cowboy Pictures has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and ceased operations. Founded by John Vanco and Noah Cowan in late 1997, the company specialized in independent movies and documentaries and was a regular on the festival circuit. Among the factual titles it represented were: I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, director Sam Jones’s film about the band Wilco; the Oscar-nominated doc Promises, by Justine Shapiro, B. Z. Goldberg and Carlos Bolado; and A. J. Schnack’s Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns), about the band They Might be Giants.