Canadian film producer Lions Gate Entertainment on April 13 said that it had spun off its Canadian distribution arm to reduce its overhead.


TORONTO (The Hollywood Reporter) -- Canadian film producer Lions Gate Entertainment on April 13 said that it had spun off its Canadian distribution arm to reduce its overhead.

Former Lions Gate executives Brad Pelman and Laurie May acquired the business through a management buyout financed by RBC Royal Bank Media and Entertainment Group and have created a new Canadian independent distributor, Maple Pictures Corp.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. As part of their agreement, Vancouver-based Lions Gate will retain a 10% stake in Maple Pictures and has inked an exclusive output agreement to ensure that its film, video and library product will be handled by the new entity.

Lions Gate spokesman Peter Wilkes said his company spun off its Canadian distribution arm to reduce its overhead while retaining a minority stake in a business run by executives it knows and trusts.

Lions Gate president Steve Beeks will serve on Maple's board of directors, the new distributor said.

The management buyout follows a 2003 decision by Canada's largest independent film distributor, Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc., to spin off a 49% stake in its movie distribution business in order to help reduce its debt load.

May, most recently senior VP business and legal affairs at Lions Gate's Toronto office, said Maple Pictures acquired most of Lions Gate's interest in Christal Distribution and a number of other businesses in Canada.

"We want to make a mark in the Canadian marketplace, being a distributor of Can-con [Canadian content] product, while also going out to markets beginning with Cannes and becoming the Canadian distributor for interesting international product," May said.

Pelman most recently was Lions Gate's executive VP sales and distribution, also based in Toronto.

The deal makes Maple Pictures the second-largest independent film distributor in Canada, behind Alliance Atlantis.