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Lionsgate Extends Vice Chairman Michael Burns’ Contract to 2022

In a major vote of confidence, Lionsgate’s board has extended Vice Chairman Michael Burns’ contract to 2022 — two weeks after giving CEO Jon Feltheimer a similar renewal to 2023.

The studio, which is due to close its $4.4 billion acquisition of Starz by the end of the year, made the disclosure in an 8K regulatory filing on Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Burns, 57, and Feltheimer, 65, have run Lionsgate for 16 years.

Burns’ previous contract would have expired on Oct. 30, 2017. The filing said Burns’ salary will remain $1 million a year with a performance bonus of 75% of that amount. He has an option to buy 950,000 shares at $19.01 per share — the closing price of the stock on Thursday for Lionsgate earnings, which topped estimates. Shares of Lionsgate rose nearly 10% on Friday in the wake of the earnings news and several analyst upgrades, and closed at $20.83.

The filing also said Burns has the option to buy 950,000 shares at $23.76, starting in November of 2017, along with a $4 million bonus that’s related to the company’s performance target that will be set by the Compensation Committee after the Starz deal closes.

Burns’ compensation for the fiscal year, which ended in March, totaled $11.5 million.

The Starz acquisition has been touted by Feltheimer as doubling Lionsgate’s scale — giving the combined entity more leverage to compete with corporate behemoths such as Disney and improving its ability to exploit fast-growing digital media platforms.

Lionsgate’s executive ranks had remained stable in recent years until September, when Rob Friedman departed as co-chair of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group and was named special advisor to Feltheimer.

Lionsgate has seen its largest success from “The Hunger Games” movies, which launched in 2012, grossed nearly $3 billion, and transformed Jennifer Lawrence into a worldwide star. But it has struggled to duplicate that since with the “Divergent” series and misfires like “Gods of Egypt.”

Its top grosser this year is “Now You See Me 2,” which grossed $334.9 million worldwide. But its “Deepwater Horizon” — which carries a $110 million price tag —  has performed only moderately.

Lionsgate has a pair of potential awards season contenders in Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” and Mel Gibson’s “Hacksaw Ridge” — both of which earned strong reviews. Other prominent upcoming titles include “Power Rangers,” which opens in March, and Boston Marathon bombing drama “Patriots Day,” starring Mark Wahlberg.

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