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NBA's Cuban Sets Sights on Film/Video Industry

16 Jul, 2002 By: Staff Reporter

Mark Cuban, the billionaire entrepreneur and owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, has set his sights on the film world, purchasing a 5.8 percent stake in independent producer and financier Lions Gate Entertainment Group.

According to a filing issued to the Securities and Exchange Commission this month, Cuban purchased 2.5 million shares of the Vancouver-based company June 27 for more than $5 million, making him the third-largest shareholder in Lions Gate after Fidelity Investments and Mark Amin, Lions Gate vice chair and founder of the indie film production company Sabini Films.

"This is a great affirmation of investor confidence," a Lions Gate spokesman said.

Cuban will remain a passive investor in the indie outfit, which recently scored with the Oscar-winning feature Monster's Ball. Lions Gate's upcoming theatrical slate includes the James Foley-directed Confidence, starring Dustin Hoffman, Andy Garcia, Ed Burns and Rachel Weisz, and Shattered Glass, starring Hayden Christensen and Greg Kinnear from screenwriter Billy Ray. On the small screen, Lions Gate is riding high on The Dead Zone, USA Network's successful new drama series.

People close to the situation expect Cuban to be a passive investor in the company, though there are likely to be some strategic dealings involving Lions Gate's film and home video library and Cuban's fledging HDTV channel, which offers high-definition programming through DirecTV's satellite TV platform. The HDTV channel has carried trailers for several Lions Gate theatrical releases in recent months.

Cuban, who sold his Internet broadcast company, broadcast.com, to Yahoo! at the height of the Internet bubble for $5.7 billion, was not available for comment. Sources said Cuban has long been friendly with Lions Gate CEO Jon Feltheimer and vice chairman Michael Burns, among others at the company.

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