UPDATED with comments from conference call: Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said the studio is currently shooting 19 scripted TV series and another 20 unscripted shows around the world despite the ongoing pandemic. Five feature films are back in production along with three ones. It will start production on Wonder sequel White Bird, Shotgun Wedding, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Borderlands and John Wick 4 in coming months for release next year.
He referenced Starz announcement earlier today that greenlit collaboration with 3 Arts on The Serpent Queen, the story of French royal Catherine de Medici from Bohemian Rhapsody’s Justin Haythe. There are 13 series in the works for Starz and another 14-15 for outside of Starz with demand at an “all time time high” execs said on a conference describing a content boom made possible by Lionsgate’s improved cash position and spurred by the proliferation of streaming outlets.
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The content also feeds a library that in the quarter achieved a record $765 million in revenue for the past twelve months.
Feltheimer said the streaming landscape will come into sharper focus soon since — with the exception of Paramount+ which launches in March — “All the players are kind of on the field now. We will see [them] competing on ad spend, and price, and bundling.” Starz, which targets women and underserved audiences, sees itself as a complement, not a competitor to the big names.
Execs when asked skirted a hard analysis of the impact on their business of the shift in windows that’s dominating the industry with many theaters still closed. They said theatrical release will remains key to driving some titles but that PVOD releases have been beneficial financially, in terms of targeting marketing spend, for one. Films are greenlit now more than ever before in a collaboration across divisions based on how and where they’ll be released.
Lionsgate said Thursday television production revenue jumped 20% to $228 million last quarter and swung to a profit of $29 million from a $5.7 million loss, driven by strong library sales and 3 Arts Entertainment.
Motion Picture revenue of $250 million plunged from $474 million reflecting fewer theatrical releases due to ongoing cinema closures amidst Covid-19. Segment profit of $50 million was about flat.
At media networks global subscribers led by Starz hit 28 million last quarter, with global OTT subs, a focus of the company now, rising by 900,000 to 14.6 million. Starzplay International OTT subscribers grew 26% in the quarter, domestic OTT subscribers gained 300,000.
Lionsgate posted total revenue for its fiscal third quarter of $836 million, down from $998 million the year before but ahead of forecasts. Ditto with adjusted, diluted EPS that came it at $0.21, up from $0.14.
Net losses narrowed to $17 million to $97 million. Shares were up 3.45% in after-hours trading.
“We’re pleased to report our fourth strong quarter in a row – strong in terms of financial results, global subscriber growth at STARZ and another outsized library performance, all reflecting the continued resilience of our business model,” said Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, who recently extended his contract to 2024.
“With the strong year we’re having in F21, we’re in great shape to take advantage of the imbalance between content supply and demand in the current environment with an increased investment in content and marketing across our core businesses in F22,” he said.
Execs are hosting a conference call to discuss the numbers and business at 5 pm ET.
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