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MONTREAL — Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. has secured a new C$20 million ($13.4 million) credit facility from the National Bank of Canada, and the Canuck company will use the cash to expand all its divisions, including its U.S. film distribution activities.

The money will allow Lions Gate Films to acquire higher-profile, bigger-budget pics, said Lions Gate president Roman Doroniuk. Lions Gate recently launched its widest release yet, Kevin Smith’s controversial Catholic comedy “Dogma.”

The credit facility will also allow Lions Gate to pick up more films for U.S. release, Doroniuk said. Lions Gate will release 15 pics this year, up from 10 last year. The company would like to increase that number next year, as well.

After bigger prey

“This gives us the financial capital to take more measured risks on bigger-budget projects, and that’s one of our goals,” Doroniuk said. “Also, we want to fill our pipeline with product, and we have to increase the quantity and maintain the same level of quality.

“This credit facility is the realization of a major goal in the company’s overall operating strategy. Building on the success of Lions Gate Films’ latest release, ‘Dogma,’ we intend to utilize this facility to enhance our reputation as one of North America’s premiere distributors and producers of independent feature films. We are very pleased to have formed a relationship with the National Bank, who have shown themselves to be astute entertainment industry leaders.”

Lions Gate also has plans to boost its homevideo activities in the U.S., via its wholly owned subsidiary Avalanche Home Video and its 50%-owned Sterling Home Video.

Doroniuk hinted that Lions Gate expects the credit facility with the National Bank of Canada to increase in the near future.

“It’s by no means the end,” Doroniuk said. “As we continue to grow, we’ll need more capital and the National Bank is an ideal partner for that.”

On Monday, Lions Gate announced its strongest financial results yet, with revenues and net earnings up significantly for the second quarter.