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Lions Gate Buys British Beachhead

21 Oct, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Seeking to self-distribute product in the United Kingdom, Lions Gate Entertainment has acquired London-based Redbus Film Distribution Limited.

The cash and stock deal worth about $35 million gives Lions Gate international distribution rights to Redbus' independent catalog of more than 130 titles, including Bend It Like Beckham, Jeepers Creepers, The Mothman Prophecies and The Gift.

The deal does not include online video rental service Video Island, which Redbus founded in 2002.

Redbus, which will continue to be operated by co-founder Simon Franks, president Zygi Kamasa and head of theatrical distribution Chris Bailey, previously distributed the Lions Gate titles Open Water and Cabin Fever, and is set to distribute Rize, Hard Candy and Catacombs in the coming months.

Lions Gate also has rights to Redbus' upcoming theatrical slate, including Nicolas Cage in a remake of the 1973 classic The Wicker Man; and Bruce Beresford's The Contract with John Cusack and Morgan Freeman.

Media analyst David Miller, with Sanders Morris Harris in Los Angeles, said the deal underscores Lions Gate's interest in third-party film libraries and distribution channels, including its recent unsolicited $90 million stock bid for Image Entertainment.

Lions Gate Family Entertainment (LGFE) also acquired the home video rights to the children's TV series “The Doodlebops” from Cookie Jar Entertainment. Under terms of the deal, Lions Gate received the rights to 26 existing episodes and 26 episodes in production for a 2006 release. “The Doodlebops” currently air on The Disney Channel's Playhouse Disney.

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