Lionsgate Acquires Debmar-Mercury

Jul 12, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Independent film and TV studio Lionsgate has acquired television distributor Debmar-Mercury for about $27 million.

Helmed by principals Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein, Debmar-Mercury will continue to operate under the company’s own banner as a wholly owned subsidiary of Lionsgate.

As independent operations not owned by major media conglomerates, both Lionsgate and Debmar-Mercury are rare entities in today’s market.

The companies already were working together on the syndication launch of the Lionsgate drama “The Dead Zone,” which recently launched its fifth season on cable network USA. Debmar-Mercury also distributes a feature film package for Lionsgate.

“Combining their television content and feature film properties with our distribution expertise is a perfect strategic fit,” Mr. Marcus said in a press release. “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.”

Debmar-Mercury currently distributes the Comedy Central animated half-hour “South Park” in syndication, as well as the Sci Fi drama “Farscape” for Hallmark Entertainment and the Jim Henson Co.

In June, Debmar-Mercury ran a limited test run of its original comedy series “House of Payne,” the first new first-run sitcom to be introduced in syndication in more than a decade. “Payne” is created by Tyler Perry, who also created and starred in the profitable Lionsgate features “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” and “Madea’s Family Reunion.”

Besides Mr. Perry’s films, Lionsgate holds a library of about 5,000 film and TV titles. The company behind the 2006 Oscar winner “Crash,” Lionsgate also produces Showtime’s “Weeds,” ABC Family’s “Wildfire” and Sci Fi’s upcoming series “The Dresden Files.”