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David Poland

By David Poland

Icahn’s Gate

He tried to take over the bloated Lionsgate many different ways. But company leadership and their board have had too good a time building the company to let Icahn come in and do what they haven’t be able to do… make it work for Wall Street.

And so they fought. They fought him off in every way possible. And when smart people get focused and the #1 focus of the organization is not being taken over by Carl Icahn, positive results can be achieved. And so they have.

Ironically, he was paid less that he was offering to pay for shares of the company. (I thought he’d hold out to get what he had offered others… but I guess he was done wasting his time trying to fight the immovable object.)

Now what?

Lionsgate is a moderately successful studio and distributor of feature films with aging franchise titles, a nice sized TV division and a massive, massive library. Like MGM, they value the company much higher internally than the market does. And so, the opportunity to cash out on a high has never taken place.

A movie or two may be a huge or bomb… it doesn’t really matter. The company is much bigger than any movie (unless they get a Twilight or an Avatar).

So after two years of defensive maneuvering and years before that of doggy paddling, what is the future of this company?

I don’t know. And I don’t think anyone else really knows.

It’s still a tweener. Anyone who would ever buy it for an acceptable price to the management would have to sell pieces of it off to make it work for them. And clearly, management doesn’t like that idea. So it needs to get bigger or smaller.

“Bigger” was a bit of a disaster last year. But they can keep trying. If I were them, I would get very serious about streaming their library and making that work beyond the EPIX relationship. Even though they have more library product (and their complete TV library, which Par splits with CBS), they are living in Paramount’s shadow there. There is finally a real advantage – since the dawn of DVD – to having a very ling tail. Use it. The more expensive movie business… not so much.

“Smaller” means selling off some of the acquired holdings. Could try spinning off TV. Could turn the library into a separate business. Could make the production side even smaller.

I guess time will tell…

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4 Responses to “Icahn’s Gate”

  1. Madam Pince says:

    Lionsgate is banking on the Hunger Games becoming the next big franchise, right? I don’t know if that is going to pan out. Lots of talk about how the teaser was a huge let down. It looked oddly low rent to me. It didn’t have that expensive sheen I typically associate with mid-budget and up films. It had the aura of a direct-to-dvd slasher flick, with the frightened girl running through cheap woods. Even a random clip from Supernatural has a more cinematic quality than the Hunger Games teaser, and that is low budget TV.

  2. participant42 says:

    That’s sheer nonsense, Ms. Prince: there’s nothing in that clip the says low production values or any other negative. It clearly wasn’t intended as a “blow you away” action clip. And so what. Perhaps some 13-year-olds thought that the little tease should be boom-explosive.
    Just wait for the movie, and then make an *informed* judgement.

  3. Triple Option says:

    participant42, it seems as if Madam Pince was just offering an opinion based on an observation. You may not share the opinion but couldn’t you offer your rebuttal without the attack mode? Heck, up the sarcasm or snark but I think any point you were trying to make was lost in your presentation.

  4. Storymark says:

    Having seen many teens clustered around computer screens at school to watch that lackluster teaser…. I think it’ll do just fine.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

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My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
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“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon