Lionsgate Pacts with Frank Giustra & Thunderbird Films


SANTA MONICA/VANCOUVER: Lionsgate is teaming up with founder and former chairman Frank Giustra and his Thunderbird Films outfit for a new venture, Sea to Sky Entertainment.

The television partnership is aimed at producing programming for broadcast and cable networks. Sea to Sky Entertainment will focus on generating a broad range of scripted programming. Lionsgate and Thunderbird will jointly manage the new venture, sharing production and distribution costs for any series picked up by a network.

There are already a number of projects in the works, including content from the development and production deal with R.J. Cutler. Sea to sky has optioned the rights for the upcoming book An Uncommon Youth, set in 1970s Italy. Anne Thomopoulos will lead the project as a limited series for international co-production. The new venture will also develop a one-hour drama from Dennis Lehane, the author of Mystic River.

"We are delighted to be reunited with our old friend and founder Frank Giustra," said Jon Feltheimer, Lionsgate’s CEO. "Frank has had a tremendous impact in the financial community worldwide as well as in the realm of global philanthropy, and we believe that he can have a significant influence in helping the ongoing diversification of our television business as well. Teaming with Frank and Thunderbird will help us explore new strategies for producing programming for the broadcast networks cost-effectively as well as expanding our TV business into other exciting new areas."

"I’m thrilled to return to my Lionsgate roots and partner with Jon Feltheimer, Kevin Beggs and the rest of the Lionsgate team," added Giustra. "They have built Lionsgate’s television business almost from scratch to a nearly $400 million-a-year diversified operation since I founded Lionsgate, and I’m pleased to participate in the continued growth of the company’s television business. I have sought to make a difference with all the ventures I have launched, and I hope Sea To Sky will be no exception as Lionsgate and Thunderbird work together to create and deliver exciting television programming to audiences hungry for original content and fresh ideas."

"I’m delighted to reteam with Frank, who was chairman of Lionsgate when I first joined the company nearly 15 years ago,” said Kevin Beggs, the president of Lionsgate’s television group. “He has always been a visionary in recognizing the potential of new markets, new companies and new ideas. The quality of the talent relationships his new company has already formed for its first wave of projects is testament to the level of programming we believe they can bring to our buyers and the role they can play in the ongoing diversification of our television business."