Earlier this year, Lionsgate was reported to be actively shopping their Starz streaming service for sale to its larger streaming competitors such as Amazon and Netflix. During these talks, Lionsgate expressed its desire to focus on the company’s film studio operations.
Within the same year, the strategy has flipped and now Lionsgate is said to be pursuing opportunities to sell off its studio, allowing it to focus on streaming. If the studio can be sold, the company’s streaming service would be rebranded as Lionsgate+.
It may be that both studio and streaming are up for sale, and the change is merely a question of timing. Like many entertainment businesses, Lionsgate has suffered a dramatic fall in its market valuation, from $7 billion at the heights of 2018 to a measly $1.8 billion in the currently distressed market. There may be more current demand for the film studio (and library) than for a second-tier streaming service.
If Lionsgate’s film studio were to be scooped up by a major streaming provider, exhibitors might be left with fewer titles to play in their theatres, since streaming-first providers have shown a propensity to undervalue theatrical releasing, even with franchises and stars that have been successful at the box office.
One current example of this is Netflix’s decision to skip a traditional theatrical release for its upcoming GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY sequel. If profitable franchises such as Lionsgate’s JOHN WICK are removed from the theatrical release calendar, it would be another blow to the vitality of exhibitors.