Lionsgate, Relativity Set Film Distribution Deal

Lionsgate and Relativity Media announced a multi-picture partnership to make and distribute movies together

Last Updated: March 11, 2010 @ 11:51 AM

Lionsgate and Relativity Media announced a partnership on Monday in which the movie studio has acquired U.S. distribution rights for up to five Relativity productions per year.

The first movie in the distribution-production partnership will be “Brothers,” by Jim Sheridan, the Oscar-nominated director of “In America” and “My Left Foot.” The movie is about two brothers in love with the same woman and stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire.

The two companies had already partnered on films including “3:10 to Yuma” and “The Bank Job.”

Under the terms of the pact, Kavanaugh will put up all P&A and production costs for the Relativity films.

Lionsgate has been hungry for more product to distribute through its high-overhead distribution pipeline. Relativity Media, led by Ryan Kavanaugh, has managed to continue raising money despite the financing drought from Wall Street, and has another significant distribution agreement in place with Universal.

Last September Relativity announced a deal with Elliott Associates to provide at least $1 billion to co-finance no fewer than 75% of Universal Pictures’ films over the next four years. Under the deal, Relativity Media  shares in the profits of roughly 45 films through 2011, while Universal will be able to exclude up to two films a year.

Meanwhile Lionsgate has also been fending off moves by takeover titan Carl Icahn, who owns a minority stake in the studio and had been seeking more control through board seats and an offer to buy company debt from bondholders.

In a news release, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group President Joe Drake said, “Ryan Kavanaugh and his colleagues at Relativity Media have built an extraordinary company that is one of the industry’s most prolific suppliers of broad-appeal, talent-driven motion pictures.

This agreement solidifies the long-term relationship we built together through successful partnerships on ‘3:10 to Yuma,’ ‘The Forbidden Kingdom’ and ‘The Bank Job.’

Relativity CEO Kavanaugh said, “This deal represents a big step in the evolution of a partnership between two forward-thinking companies.

Lionsgate is defined by its keen ability to take smart risks on compelling films.

Lionsgate treats its distribution of films as an owner, thinking creatively about how to approach every film uniquely and maximize the value of each and every project.

These films are in great hands thanks to this relationship.”

Relativity recently bought Rogue Pictures, the 4-year-old company which specializes in horror films. 

The second film to be distributed will be “Season of the Witch,” starring Nicolas Cage.