As it looks to expand beyond its core business of making movies and television shows, Lionsgate has invested in Telltale Games, the developer of games based on AMC’s “The Walking Dead” and HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
Lionsgate declined to disclose the size of the investment other than to say it was “significant.” The figure is said to be around $40 million, according to sources familiar with the deal, Variety has learned.
The move by Lionsgate is certainly a significant one, and gives the company behind “The Hunger Games” and “Twilight” franchises, a major stake in a well-respected and successful gamemaker after having only just formed a games group in April 2014, under the leadership of Peter Levin, a digital entrepreneur who had sold Chris Hardwick’s Nerdist Industries to Legendary Entertainment.
Since then, he’s moved Lionsgate primarily into the mobile games space, and scored with titles based on “Hunger Games” and “John Wick.”
But with Telltale, Lionsgate’s backing will enable the company to develop new games, and work with Lionsgate to co-develop titles that can be turned into movies and TV shows.
As part of the deal, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer will join Telltale’s board of directors.
“Our partnership with Kevin Bruner and his team at Telltale continues to accelerate our momentum in the game space,” said Levin, who serves as Lionsgate’s president of Lionsgate’s Interactive Ventures & Games. “The convergence between premium filmed entertainment brands and original game properties is a natural direction in which to continue diversifying our content business, and Telltale is the perfect partner with whom to explore this dynamic area of growth.”
Telltale’s “Walking Dead” game broke out as a hit selling 8.5 million copies, and introduced a unique episodic storytelling structure in its gameplay, rolling out as episodes, a format that’s now been used for the company’s sequels, but also a new game based on “Game of Thrones,” and other releases.
It’s also behind “The Wolf Among Us,” an episodic interactive graphic adventure based on Bill Willingham’s “Fables” comicbook, and “Tales from the Borderlands,” Telltale’s adaptation of Gearbox Software and 2K Games title.
“Telltale is one of the premier storytellers in the gaming world today,” Feltheimer said. “Their leadership in narrative-driven episodic games, together with our investment and the potential opportunities created by our premium content expertise, will continue to strengthen their ability to offer exciting new avenues of storytelling to their next generation audiences across a broad range of platforms.”
“Lionsgate is one of the most innovative, entrepreneurial and impressive content companies in the world today,” said Telltale CEO Kevin Bruner. “I’m delighted to welcome an experienced executive like Jon, a leader who shares our unique vision, to our board. Lionsgate has a great track record in developing and marketing feature films as well as platform-defining premium scripted television. This partnership will accelerate Telltale’s ability to create not only original games, but episodic television series based on our game properties – an area at the cutting edge of industry growth.”