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Lions Gate Roars for TV DVD

1 Aug, 2005 By: Thomas A., Erik G.

Lions Gate Entertainment president Steve Beeks announced a major push into the lucrative TV DVD market, fueled by series from it's content-rich TV division, at the studio's annual pre-show retailer summit at the Ritz Carlton at Lake Las Vegas.

“With five series on the air by fall 2005 and a sixth to hit the airwaves next year based on Paul Haggis' successful and critically acclaimed film Crash, Lions Gate Television is creating TV franchises that are sure to be big hits on DVD,” Beeks said.

The series coming this fall, and subsequently bound for DVD, are:

• “Wildfire,” an ABC Family Channel drama that follows a troubled teen who's given a chance at a new life on a ranch;

• “Weeds,” a single-camera comedy on Showtime, with Mary Louise Parker and Kevin Nealon, about a mom who sells drugs to support her family after her husband's death;

• “The Dead Zone,” with Anthony Michael Hall, in its fourth season on USA Networks;

• “Missing,” on Lifetime, with Vivica A. Fox and Mark Consuelos as an FBI agent and an evidence specialist who look for missing persons;

• and “The Cut,” a reality-TV show on CBS in which contestants vie for a chance to work as a fashion designer for Tommy Hilfiger.

Lions Gate Home Entertainment EVP of marketing Anne Parducci said Lions Gate is the fourth-largest provider of TV DVD product, with an 8 percent market share, largely due to the “Best of Saturday Night Live” series, which sold nearly 4.5 million units in 2004. SNL's The Best of Will Ferrell was the second-biggest-selling comedy DVD of 2004, Parducci said.

Lions Gate Family Entertainment will release its first theatrical feature, Food Fight, in early 2006. Parducci said the division has 7 percent nontheatrical market share and has high expectations for upcoming DVD fare: Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus 3-D; Care Bears Big Wish Movie; Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends; Inspector Gadget's Biggest Caper Ever; and Pinocchio 3000 Custom Network.

Declaring that Lions Gate will not “lose [its] independent roots,” Beeks said the studio — with more than 30 theatrical features released since its December 2003 merger with Artisan Entertainment and a library of 8,000 titles — should still be considered a full-blown movie studio, with theatrical revenue of $300 million in 2004 and home video revenue approaching $500 million for fiscal 2005.

Lions Gate has a 5 percent share of the DVD market and has become a major force, with The Punisher and Saw debuting at No. 1, and Diary of a Mad Black Woman selling 2.4 million units its first week in stores.

The Punisher was significant because it marked the first film in Lions Gate's partnership with Marvel Comics to develop and produce midrange movies. The alliance is scheduled to bow eight direct-to-video animated films.

Beeks also trumpeted Lions Gate's success in horror, where it claims a 20 percent market share in DVD. Saw was so successful — box office earnings topped $55 million and DVD sales were 4.5 million units — a theatrical sequel will bow by Halloween.

Beeks also noted the studio's early support of the Universal Media Disc, with 15 titles out or in the pipeline.

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