Lionsgate, Saban Team With Celestial In Asian JV

HONG KONG (AP) — Hollywood independent studio Lionsgate and U.S. media investment firm Saban Capital said Thursday they’re teaming up with a Malaysian-owned company in a pay TV joint venture to tap the expanding Asian entertainment market.

Lionsgate, Saban and Malaysia film and TV company Celestial Pictures said the new venture, Celestial Tiger Entertainment, will get a “significant capital investment” from Saban. The amount wasn’t disclosed.

The new company will be headquartered in Hong Kong. It will offer three pay TV channels from Tiger Gate Entertainment, an existing Asian partnership set up by Lionsgate-Saban in 2010. Celestial Pictures will contribute three Chinese-language pay TV channels.

Celestial Tiger also plans to expand by adding new channels or buying other operators. It will also be the sole sales agent for Lionsgate movies and TV shows in Southeast Asia and China.

The joint venture is the latest in a string of partnerships with Asian entertainment companies formed recently by Hollywood studios looking for growth in Asia, where a burgeoning middle class is driving demand.

Earlier this year, Relativity Media and Legendary Entertainment announced partnerships with Chinese companies.


The Asia-Pacific region is already the world’s biggest pay TV market, with 57 percent of global subscriptions, which were forecast to exceed 745 million in 2011, according to an ABI Research report earlier this year.

Lionsgate productions include the hit TV series “Mad Men” and recent films such as “Margin Call” and “The Expendables.”

Media mogul Haim Saban’s Saban Capital is best known for licensing the Power Rangers from Japan in the 1990s.

Hong Kong-based Celestial Pictures is owned by Malaysian pay-television operator Astro Holdings.

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