Lionsgate launches new specialty distribution label

Lionsgate launches new specialty distribution label
Lionsgate's corporate headquarters in Santa Monica. (Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times)

Lionsgate announced the launch of a new specialty distribution label that will focus on multiplatform release strategies in an effort to cater to next-generation audiences.

The Santa Monica-based studio said Wednesday that the new label, Lionsgate Premiere, will release a slate of up to 15 films annually. The Chinese film "Dragon Blade," which stars Jackie Chan, Adrien Brody and John Cusack, will kick off the slate in fall 2015.

"Lionsgate Premiere embodies the unique attributes of our motion picture business – our diversity, our focus on audiences in our sweet spot and ability to create release strategies attuned to next generation moviegoers," Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger said in a joint statement. "We're thrilled to launch our newest label with a wide-ranging slate that features films from horror maestros, star-driven action thrillers as well as a blockbuster that has already conquered the Chinese box office."

Other films in the label's upcoming slate include "Cooties," which stars Rainn Wilson and Elijah Wood; comedy "Don Verdean," which stars Danny McBride and Will Forte; horror-thriller "Knock Knock," from writer-director Eli Roth; and action film "Extraction," which stars Bruce Willis and Kellen Lutz.

Lionsgate Senior Vice President of Marketing and Research Jean McDowell will lead marketing initiatives for the new label, under Lionsgate Chief Marketing Officer Tim Palen.

Adam Sorensen, who serves as manager of western sales at Lionsgate, will oversee Lionsgate Premiere's distribution operations.

The announcement of the new label comes less than a month after the studio finalized agreements with China's Hunan TV & Broadcast Intermediary Co. As part of the agreement, the Chinese broadcaster will provide Lionsgate with $375 million in production financing over the next three years, making it the biggest Hollywood deal by a Chinese company to date.

Besides the popular "Hunger Games" series, Lionsgate's film properties include the young-adult "Divergent" and "Twilight" series. Other recent Lionsgate films include "John Wick" and "Mortdecai."

Shares of Lionsgate were down 65 cents, almost 2%, to $33.27 in Wednesday trading.

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