Control of content will remain the key for Lionsgate’s financial viability, vice chairman Michael Burns told an industry confab on Saturday.
“We built this company controlling as much content as possible,” Burns said panel at the Producers Guild of America’s “Produced By” conference Saturday at Sony Studios. PGA veep Gary Lucchesi, who worked with Lionsgate on “The Lincoln Lawyer,” conducted the discussion with Burns.
Burns’ advice came in two parts: “Control great material” and “don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole.” He explained that the latter meant that producers should delay a project if it isn’t ready.
Though Burns didn’t mention a specific project, his admonition came a day after Lionsgate decided to delay moving forward on its “Dirty Dancing” reboot for a year.
Lionsgate completed a $412.5 million purchase of Summit in January, but Burns noted that the earlier buyouts of Trimark, Artisan and Mandate had helped Lionsgate build a library with over 13,000 titles — which generates $150 million in annual cash flow.
He stressed that Lionsgate plans to continue generating content — features, TV and online — amid the explosion of digital delivery systems.
“Whichever platform takes off, we have to create content,” he added.
Burns also said that despite the stellar performance of “The Hunger Games” — now at $400 million in domestic box office — Lionsgate won’t significantly change its financing strategy of moderate budgets and pre-sales of foreign rights. Even with “Hunger Games” and its $80 million budget, the average risk per film is about $15 million.