Brit beachhead for Lions Gate

Indie reels in distrib Redbus

Continuing its drive to grow through acquisitions, Lions Gate is buying British distrib Redbus for $35 million in cash and stock.

Deal gives the indie studio a means to distribute pics in the U.K. as well as a source for content coming out of Blighty.

It also gets U.K. rights to more than 130 pics in the Redbus library including “Bend It Like Beckham” and “The Mothman Prophecies.”

As part of the transaction, Lions Gate has signed long-term contracts with Redbus co-founders Simon Franks and Zygi Kamasa as well as head of theatrical distribution Chris Bailey.

Companies got to know each other as Redbus distributed Lions Gate pics such as “Open Water” and made plans for the upcoming “Rize.”

“We can compete better with big studios by buying multiple territories,” Lions Gate CEO Jon Feltheimer said. “We will have more access to content from the U.K. and interesting financing options.”

Redbus will continue to distribute other studios’ pics in Blighty under its new owner.

Like all of Lions Gate’s acquisition targets, Redbus is profitable and is expected to contribute to the bottom line.

Starting next year, it will begin distributing pics on DVD from Lions Gate’s library, including “Dirty Dancing” and “The Princess Bride.”

Lions Gate recently purchased a minority share in DVD producer-distrib Image Entertainment with an eye to buying the whole company. It made an unsuccessful bid for Blighty kidvid company Hit Entertainment.

In 2003, it bought Artisan Entertainment for $160 million.

Company will continue to look at other acquisition opportunities to expand overseas and grow its library.

Upcoming slate for Redbus includes “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Wicker Man,” “The Contract” and “Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story.”

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