Lions Gate Films

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Lions Gate Films is a Canadian film production and distribution company that is currently the largest and most successful independent film distributor/studio in North America. It is a subsidiary of Lions Gate Entertainment.

It focuses mainly on foreign and independent films, and is perhaps best known for distributing films that are too controversial for the large American companies like Fahrenheit 9/11 and American Psycho.

Lions Gate has existed in several incarnations under different managements. The original company was founded by director Robert Altman, who named it after a Vancouver landmark, Lions Gate Bridge. Among Lions Gate's first films (under Altman) included 3 Women (1977) and A Wedding (1979). In 1981 Altman sold the company to Jonathan Taplin. The current incarnation was initiated in 1997 by Frank Giustra, a Vancouver investment banker hoping to capitalize on the growing film industry in his home town. The company bought a number of small production facilities and distributors. Its first success was American Psycho, which began a trend of producing and distributing fare too controversial for the major American studios. Other successes included Affliction, Gods and Monsters, Dogma, and the Michael Moore documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 (which turned out to be the studio's highest grossing film in their history).

In 2000 Giustra left the firm and it was taken over by Jon Feltheimer and Tom Ortenberg. They decided to focus on the profits of videos and DVDs and began buying struggling firms that controlled large libraries. The two most notable acquisitions were Trimark and Artisan Entertainment. These two along with other firms gave Lions Gate the second largest DVD library of any company which includes everything from Total Recall to Reservoir Dogs, from On Golden Pond to Young Guns, and from Dirty Dancing to It's A Wonderful Life, in some cases via output deals with StudioCanal, ITC/Carlton, and Republic Pictures (the result of prior licensing deals with Lions Gate's home video predecessor Artisan).

Very rarely does Lions Gate co-produce films with major studios. For example, Lions Gate teamed with Miramax Films for the 2004 sequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights and with Paramount Pictures for 2002's Narc and 2004's The Prince & Me. Lions Gate was also a silent partner in 20th Century Fox's 2004 sci-fi film The Day After Tomorrow. And also in 2004, for the first time ever, Lions Gate joined forces with independent rival United Artists in producing Hotel Rwanda.

The company also has a television division that has made shows such as The Dead Zone. The company also recently has launched a record label.

The company is publicly traded under the symbol "LGF." The stock has nearly quadrupuled in the past year.

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