The Lions Gate Entertainment Corporation was founded on July 10, 1997 in Vancouver, British Columbia, by Frank Giustra and Avi Federgreen with a $16 million investment. They were supported with another $40 million from other investors, including Keyur Patel and Yorkton Securities' executives, such as G. Scott Paterson. After his retirement as the CEO of Yorkton, an investment bank, Giustra merged Lionsgate with Toronto Stock Exchange listed Beringer Gold Corp. Beringer's mining assets were soon sold off.
Lionsgate started a series of acquisitions to establish itself in the film industry. The company bought a number of small production facilities and distributors, starting with Montreal-based Cinépix Film Properties, later renamed as Lionsgate Films, and North Shore Studios, renamed as Lionsgate Studios, in Vancouver, British Columbia. Lionsgate also acquired Mandalay Television from Peter Guber for a 4% Lionsgate stake. In 1998, Lionsgate helped Guber to found Mandalay Pictures with a 45% investment. In June, Lionsgate purchased the International Movie Group Inc., a bankrupt film distributor previously invested in by Guber and Yorktown Securities, for its film library. Thereby, IMG's CEO, Peter Strauss, became the president of Lions Gate Entertainment, Inc., Lionsgate's U.S. film & TV production & distribution subsidiary.
Upon the completition of its first year of operation, Lionsgate registered a revenue of $42.2 million with a loss of $397,000. The company share price dropped to a low of $1.40, which limited the corporation's ability to make acquisitions via stock swaps. Instead, Lionsgate made its next acquisition of Termite Art Productions, a reality-based television production company, for $2.75 million by issuing three convertible promissory notes. Frank Giustra had the shareholders vote to move the company's public listing from the Toronto Stock Exchange to the American Stock Exchange, along with a two-for-one stock consolidation to qualify, for greater exposure that might boost share value.
In January 1999, Roman Doroniuk became president and Chief Executive Officer of Lionsgate, which caused the corporation's financial operations to be moved moved to Doroniuk's offices in Toronto in April. The corporate headquarters, however, remained in Vancouver. Lionsgate created US based Avalanche Films and acquired half of Sterling Home Entertainment, both in video sales. Again, Lionsgate registered losses in its second year of $9.3 million on revenues of $78.3 million. Most of these losses came from its stake in Mandalay Pictures. Therefore, Lionsgate placed its studios up for sale in summer, with no buyers. TV operations were changed to non-network hourlong series instead of riskier network shows, which led to the end of Lionsgate's relationship with Mandalay Television. The corporation sought out more capital and cash with a filing of a preliminary prospectus for the sale of preferred stock and common stock warrants and a $13.4 million line of credit.
In January 2000, an investor group including Paul Allen, former Sony Pictures executive Jon Feltheimer, German broadcasting company Tele-Munchen, and SBS Broadcasting SA, invested $33.1 million in the company. Thereby, Feltheimer became Lionsgate's new CEO, while Roman Doroniuk left the company. Feltheimer increased film making, including several $1 million films at Avalanche. However, co-founder Avi Federgreen still remained one of the primary owners of Lionsgate and is therefore deeply involved in the making of all their major movies. In June, Lionsgate acquired Trimark Holdings, Inc. for approximately $50 million in stock and cash, including taking on $36 million in debt.
To boost its distribution and expand its film library, Lionsgate continued to make profitable acquisitions over the course of the decade. On December 15, 2003, Lionsgate acquired Artisan Entertainment for $220 million. In 2004, Erik Nelson reacquired Termite Art and renamed it to Creative Differences. In 2005, Lionsgate started a partnership with Panamax Films to make movies for the Latino market.
Under the direction of two former Lionsgate executives, Brad Pelman and Laurie May, Lionsgate Canadian distribution unit was renamed as Maple Pictures on April 13, 2005. On August 1, 2005, Lionsgate acquired the entire library of Modern Entertainment, the U.S. film division of the Swedish television company Modern Times Group. On October 17, 2005, Lionsgate acquired the UK company Redbus Film Distribution for $35 million and renamed it as Lionsgate UK on February 23, 2006.
On March 15, 2006, Lionsgate sold Lionsgate Studios to the Bosa Development Corporation. Lionsgate then purchased Debmar-Mercury, an independent television distributor on July 12, turning the distributor into another Lionsgate subsidiary. On July 26, 2007, Lionsgate bought a partial stake in independent film distribution company Roadside Attractions. By June 2007, Lionsgate started up Lionsgate Music. On September 10, 2007, the company bought Mandate Pictures for $56.3 million, $44.3 million in cash and $12 million in stock, and took on $6.6 million of Mandate's debt. Mandate Chief Executive Joe Drake returned to the company as the co-chief operating officer of its film unit.
In January 2009, Lionsgate purchased TV Guide Network and TVGuide.com from Rovi for $255 million. In May of the same year, Lionsgate sold a 49% stake in TV Guide Network and website to One Equity Partners under pressure from shareholder Carl Icahn. In February 2009, Lionsgate cut back its distribution of films per year by four. Along with MGM and Paramount Pictures/Viacom, Lionsgate also became a co-owner of Epix, a pay TV movie channel which debuted on October 30.
On September 13, 2010, Lionsgate and Televisa formed a joint venture, Pantelion Films, to produce up to 10 films a year for the next five years, targeted for the U.S. Latino market. In September 2011, Lionsgate sold off its Canadian distribution unit, Maple Pictures, to Alliance Films.
Lionsgate announced on January 13, 2012, that it had acquired Summit Entertainment, producers and distributors of the Twilight Saga, for $412.5 million. The two companies have planned on merging since 2008. On October 6, 2012, Lions Gate Entertainment announced that Brian Goldsmith became the co-COO of the company along with co-COO Steve Beeks. In November 18, 2012, Lionsgate passed the $1 billion mark for the first time since its foundation, due to the success of The Hunger Games and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.
By December 2013, Lionsgate passed the $1 billion mark domestically and internationally for the 2nd year in a row, because of the financial success of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Now You See Me, Instructions Not Included and Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain. On April 14, 2014, Comcast acquired the remaining stakes in Fearnet from Lionsgate Films and Sony Pictures Entertainment. On April 21, 2014, Lionsgate announced to merge its movie marketing operations. A few days later, on April 30, Lionsgate announced that the studios planned to expand into the video gaming development.
On February 11, 2015, John C. Malone swapped a 4.5% stake with 14.5% of the voting power in Starz Inc. for 3.4% of Lionsgate’s shares while joining the company's board of directors. Fourteen days later, Starz CEO Chris Albrecht hinted at a possible merge with Lionsgate. On April 1, 2015, Lionsgate announced the creation of its new label, Lionsgate Premiere. This new label was planned to handle up to 15 movie releases a year, targeting young audiences at theaters and digital outlets. The new label, part of the company’s diversification effort, wwould incorporate Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment titles, including the Step Up film series and the Red film series, and then specialize in “innovative multiplatform and other release strategies” to reach “affinity audiences with branded content and targeted marketing.” Marketing and Research SVP Jean McDowell was responsible for the marketing, with distribution ran by Adam Sorensen, who currently manages Western Sales. On November 10, 2015, Malone's other company, Liberty Global, made a joint investment of $195-400 million in Lionsgate and acquired a 3.4% stake in the company.
on June 30, 2016, Lionsgate agreed to acquire Starz Inc. for $4.4 billion in cash and stock. As of December 2016, it became the parent company of Starz Inc. On July 13, 2016, Lionsgate acquired a minority stake in startup company Primal Media. It was launched by Matt Steiner and Adam Wood, who originally launched Gogglebox Entertainment, which was acquired by Sony Pictures Television.
Aside from the home media distribution of films sub-licensed from other studios, Lionsgate's library consists of films from the respective companies Lionsgate succeeded-in-interest, such as Trimark Pictures, Vestron Pictures and Artisan Entertainment, in addition to their in-house material. Their complete ownership depends on the worldwide regions of license.
Lionsgate Television produced several series, such as Nashville, Anger Management, The Dead Zone, Five Days to Midnight, Weeds, Nurse Jackie, Boss, Tyler Perry's House of Payne and the Emmy Award-winning Mad Men. Lionsgate also acquired the TV syndication foundation Debmar-Mercury in 2006, with 20th Television handling ad-sales with the exception for Meet the Browns, as the ad-sales were handled by Disney–ABC Domestic Television and Turner Television co-distributing the series. Lionsgate also co-owns the U.S. TV network Pop, along with CBS Corporation. In March 2013, Lionsgate signed with Mars One to produce a reality TV show.