Lionsgate has acquired television distributor Debmar-Mercury Llc., which owns the distribution rights to SOUTH PARK. Debmar-Mercury will continue to operate, still headed by principals Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, under the Debmar-Mercury banner as a wholly-owned subsidiary.
In addition to the rights for Comedy Central's blockbuster animated sitcom, SOUTH PARK, Debmar-Mercury distributes the Lionsgate one-hour drama thriller, THE DEAD ZONE; the SCI FI Channel's FARSCAPE series, produced by Hallmark Ent. and the Jim Henson Co., and numerous other shows, as well as two major feature film packages from Revolution Studios and a feature film package from Lionsgate.
Debmar-Mercury also successfully tested Tyler Perry's first-run, original comedy series, HOUSE OF PAYNE, with select major market stations representing a cross section of key station groups. Lionsgate's acquisition of Debmar-Mercury extends the company's relationship with Tyler Perry across not only feature film and video product, but original television programming as well.
The acquisition follows on the heels of Lionsgate's move into international feature film and library self-distribution through the October 2005 acquisition of UK-based distributor Redbus (subsequently renamed Lionsgate U.K.). This acquisition creates a major new distribution portal for Lionsgate, giving it the capacity to syndicate its own television programming and feature film packages as well as creating a new television distribution revenue stream from third-party franchise properties.
"We again have the opportunity to combine our resources with a culturally similar, entrepreneurial company that is a leader in its market segment and whose principals we know well," said Lionsgate ceo Jon Feltheimer. "Debmar-Mercury has become one of the leading independent distributors in the industry. With our fiscal 2007 slate of nine prime time television series, the acquisition of Debmar-Mercury's television distribution capabilities across new and traditional media outlets is a natural growth opportunity for our content business."
"We are delighted to expand our current relationship with Lionsgate, since combining their television content and feature film properties with our distribution expertise is a perfect strategic fit," said Marcus. "Lionsgate's willingness to finance us and allow us to continue to operate in an entrepreneurial manner was an important and attractive component of this agreement for us."
"This transaction provides us with a great platform to continue to grow our distribution business with the same entrepreneurial spirit that made us a success," said Bernstein.
Debmar-Mercury is already preparing the syndication launch of Lionsgate's thriller, THE DEAD ZONE, which has just debuted in its fifth season on USA Network. Bernstein and Marcus each have more than 20 years' experience in television distribution. Bernstein had his own company, Mercury Ent., and, previously, headed domestic distribution operations for Rysher Ent., as well as serving as an international distribution executive for Lionsgate. Marcus, who founded Debmar Studios, was previously head of Buena Vista Television, the domestic television distribution arm of The Walt Disney Co.
Debmar-Mercury is a worldwide production and distribution media company specializing in network, cable, syndication, VOD/Pay-Per-View and Pay TV. The company was formed by the recent merger of Debmar Studios and Mercury Ent. In addition to its large catalog of distribution rights, Debmar-Mercury also provides strategic assessments of market opportunities in the motion picture, home video, cable programming, VOD/Pay-Per-View and other television sectors.
Lionsgate (www.lionsgate.com) is a leading independent filmed entertainment studio. Fresh off the Best Picture Academy Award-winning CRASH, its second consecutive year grossing more than $300 million at the domestic box office and the recent unveiling of an upcoming slate of nine prime time television series, Lionsgate is a premier producer and distributor of motion pictures, television programming, home entertainment, family entertainment and video-on-demand content. Its prestigious and prolific library of more than 5,000 titles is a valuable source of recurring revenue and a foundation for the growth of the company's core businesses.