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Lionsgate slate costs $400 million

Mini-studio makes mega money movie move

Lionsgate has closed a $400 million slate financing deal to cover 23 films over the next three years.

The mini-studio announced Tuesday that the financing — arranged by Goldman Sachs — covers production, acquisition, marketing and distribution of theatrical features and includes Lionsgate’s matching contributions.

Pics include “Bug,” which opened mildly over the weekend with $4 million; “Good Luck Chuck,” starring Dane Cook and Jessica Alba; “War,” starring Jet Li and Jason Statham; and a remake of “3:10 to Yuma” starring Russell Crowe and Christian Bale directed by James Mangold.

But the deal excludes Lionsgate franchise pics such as the upcoming “Saw 4” and movies from Tyler Perry.

News of the financing first emerged early this year (Daily Variety, Jan. 16). Lionsgate will receive a distribution fee of 15% — on the high side for slate deals. That figure’s an indication that hedge funds have remained interested in Hollywood despite mixed results and shows that Lionsgate has impressed Wall Street with its track record and its model of modestly priced pics.

Lionsgate said Tuesday that the deal creates funding entity LG Film Finance I, which is co-owned by Lionsgate and privately owned Pride Pictures.

“This deal underscores our commitment to maintain our conservative risk profile while preserving the upside potential of our releases as we continue to grow the business,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer in a statement. “This partnership is a win/win for Lionsgate and the other participants in the financing. It is the next logical step in the ongoing execution of our business plan, and we will continue to explore other innovative financing opportunities as well.”

As part of the transaction, Pride Pictures closed on a set of financing deals, raising $204 million that will be committed to the financing after fees. Lionsgate will provide the balance.

Goldman Sachs handled the Pride Pictures transaction. Goldman Sachs and Jefferies & Co. arranged the mezzanine debt facility and equity, and Goldman Sachs Credit Partners and JPMorgan Securities acted as joint lead arrangers on the senior debt financing.

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