CBS Films will cede its wide-release distribution operations to Lionsgate beginning in 2015 as part of a multiyear output agreement the two companies unveiled this morning. The deal kicks in with CBS Films’ teen comedy The Duff that is due out early next year. After that pic, Lionsgate will also take over exclusive international sales for all CBS titles.
Under terms of the deal, the boutique CBS Films will still acquire or produce films and shepherd marketing efforts under president Terry Press. Lionsgate in turn will oversee distribution across all media including theatrical and home entertainment and add a new source of branded wide-release films for its pipelines.
“Making movies is only half of the equation – today’s marketplace demands a strategic approach to marketing and distribution that is fluid and creative, and no company has demonstrated more vision and innovation than Lionsgate,” Press said in the release announcing the deal. “As we build our homegrown slate and expand our efforts in the acquisition space, we’re thrilled to partner with the outstanding Lionsgate team on a plan that provides the flexibility to handle these ambitions.”
It is the latest shift for CBS Films, which over the summer quietly segued co-president Wolfgang Hammer to consultant status focusing on digital content, leaving Press alone at the top. Under Hammer, Les Moonves’ label went from an original mission to create homegrown films to became a significant player in the acquisitions game in the last few years. After its first buy under Amy Baer with The Mechanic, those included Oscar nominee Inside Llewyn Davis, its highest-profile deal, made by Press via her relationship with Scott Rudin and the Coen brothers. Other big festival pickups included the Toronto acquisition Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, on which CBS Films and Lionsgate partnered. (Lionsgate and CBS are also partnered in TVGN, now being rebranded as POP.)
Among its homegrown successes was Last Vegas, acquired years before by Baer and greenlighted by Press. It made $134.4M worldwide after its November 2013 bow.
CBS Films most recently opened Pride in September and just wrapped The Duff. Upcoming for CBS Films is Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, The Husband’s Secret and The Exes coming together.
“CBS Films has emerged as a creative force that will serve as a commercially exciting and reliable source of quality mainstream theatrical releases for years to come,” said Lionsgate co-chief operating officer and Motion Picture Group president Steve Beeks. “Our partnership unites two companies with powerful brands, complementary strengths and similar entrepreneurial cultures in a distribution agreement that extends the terrific Lionsgate/CBS relationship.”