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DAILY NEWS: Lions Gate Strategizing and Dying

DAILY NEWS: Lions Gate Strategizing and Dying

DAILY NEWS: Lions Gate Strategizing and Dying

by Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE

>> Flying High After Busy Toronto Fest, Lions Gate Relocating?

(indieWIRE/ 9.19.00) — Amidst Lions Gate‘s recent buying frenzy at the
Toronto International Film Festival, word spread this weekend that the
company is shutting down its New York City operations. A number of people
approached indieWIRE over the weekend asking about the fate of the company,
even as it made offers on a number of Festival films.

In a conversation with indieWIRE yesterday, Lions Gate Releasing
Co-President Tom Ortenberg indicated that Lions Gate Entertainment Vice
Chairman & CEO John Feltheimer and Vice Chairman Michael Burns are
indeed concentrating senior management in Los Angeles, but assured that
it is “business as usual at the company.” Explaining that it “wouldn’t
be fair” to employees to discuss the situation in depth before details
are discussed internally, he added that there “will be some movement,”
but said that he could not discuss “how and when.”

The move is consistent with Lions Gate’s recent strategy. As indicated in
The Hollywood Reporter two weeks ago, the company is pursuing a path that is
proving successful in rebounding its stock price. Lions Gate recently
announced the acquisition of Trimark (a deal that is about to close
according to Ortenberg) and it also secured $200 million in financing.

Indeed the company was active in Toronto. In the conversation with
indieWIRE, Lions Gate’s Ortenberg indicated, ” We actually saw quite a few
films in Toronto that we like,very good films and viable films commercially

Continuing, Ortenberg added, “We think that ‘Weight of the Water‘ will be
the scoop of the Festival,” referring to the Kathryn Bigelow project that
debuted at the Festival. “We were pleased and stunned that it wasn’t more
sought after.”

During the Festival, Lions Gate also announced deals for “Amores Perros” and
Vulgar.” The company is also pursuing “Chasing Sleep,” but a deal has yet
to close. Ortenberg teased that other deals, outside of the Toronto
festival, are on tap and will be announced soon.

Lions Gate, according to Ortenberg, intends to release 15 – 18 films next
year — a mixture of “smaller art-house films” and also a handful of
larger-budgeted movies.

“While acquisitions will be an increasing part of what we do,” said
Ortenberg, “That will now be more balanced by a production slate.”

Bryan Johnson’s “Vulgar,” a film which polarized audiences, actually
inspired a number of people to walk out of screenings, putting the
company again in the position of releasing controversial movies.
Lions Gate has not shied away from controversy with its releases,
recently embracing Mary Harron‘s “American Psycho” and Kevin Smith‘s “Dogma.”

“We don’t invite (controversy), but we are not going to run away from it,”
Ortenberg told indieWIRE. “To run away is doing an injustice.” Continuing,
the executive added, “There is nothing fun about safe, if we were all
concerned about safe, I don’t know about how many of us would be doing
what we are doing.” [Eugene Hernandez]

>> Another Dotcom Death as Closes

(indieWIRE/ 9.19.00) —, the alternative webcasting network, shut down yesterday, joining the list of recent dotcom failures. Founded in 1994, the site was a home for niche web content, including cable-access style shows focusing on Hip Hop, gaming, sex and fashion. For a time the site even featured an indie film program, dubbed FilmBytes, which included episodes created with indieWIRE.

Pseudo had a staff of 175, according to The publication
reported that Pseudo sent the entire staff home yesterday afternoon after
failing to reach a financing deal to keep the doors open. According to
Inside, the site was burning through $2 million per month.

The news is yet another blow for high-profile web efforts aimed at
entertainment and webcasting. While the news follows the recent demise of
the unlaunched, Pseudo’s death mimics that of DEN, which recently failed amid high costs and legal troubles for its top management.
[Eugene Hernandez]

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